Bryant on Bowls – top tips An extract of tips from David Bryant‟s book that will come in useful for a bowler at any level (in no particular order). Never be afraid of experimentation. Always concentrate on control – line and length. Ensure that each and every delivery is well grounded. Look at the line and never the target. Try different sizes, weights and bias before buying a set of bowls. If uncertain, ask a coach or experienced player to help you choose. Once you have decided on your shot, banish half-heartedness. Imagine the path of your bowl, deliver it firmly and take good care of your follow through. Applaud when your opponent makes a good shot…then tell yourself quietly, „and now I‟ll show you a better one‟. Accidents are the result of poor preparation. Ensure that every detail is right each time you walk on the green. If you are to play a match, get to the green early, absorb the surroundings and try to foresee how the green will play. Be sure you know the rules back to front. Remember, they often change. Remember, the cradle grip is best on heavy greens but fast greens need a good touch. That comes best from your fingers. If you bump or skid your bowl when delivering, your accuracy will suffer. So always take care to „ground‟ each delivery. If you are leading, your task is to outbowl your opposite number…but from where the skip (not you) wants the mat and the jack. Accurate drawing to the jack depends enormously on leg control so never neglect your leg- strengthening exercises. Remove tension with inner calmness to ensure your delivery is always relaxed, smooth and flowing. Always be ready to move that mat and jack around if your opponent is less adaptable than you. Remember it‟s easier to adjust to a slower green than to a faster one. A compatible team is considerably stronger than a group of self-centered stars. So always play a positive part in maintaining tranquillity and enthusiasm. Be glad if you suffer from pre-match nerves. It means you are mentally ready for action. Just fix your mind on smooth, imaginary shots and „see‟ them scoring point after point. When tiredness creeps in skills seep out. So always have a little carbohydrate food and a drink in your bowls bag. Through intensive, intelligent practice, help your subconscious develop a clear picture of your delivery. Then you will be able to draw on it when „gremlins‟ occasionally cause you troubles. Tension tends to „choke‟ deliveries. So take care in crises to let your arm and body flow right through and your head stable when you deliver. Keep it in mind. In a two hour singles you will only apply active concentration for around ten minutes. Teach yourself how to make utmost use of those other 110 minutes of passive concentration. Accept that anyone can wreck many of your finest shots or heads. That is an occupational hazard that your must ride…and then hit back. When skipping, be clear and positive with your instructions…and also very confident. Do not take silly risks when ahead. Keep the ends tight. Being brash often gives away a five, shatters confidence and concentration and leads to ultimate defeat. Try and work out a flexible match plan well before you start to play. Live completely in the „now‟. Total concentration on each second prohibits negative thoughts and eases tension. Stay calm when fortune seems against you, so preventing your opponent from winning the next end as well as the one that has just finished. Forget about feeling sorry for yourself; your turn will come. If the spectators are noisy and partisan, concentrate on your breathing and stay calm. On no account be tempted to risk an “I‟ll show you how super-shot”. That‟s asking for defeat. No matter how long the match, believe you can keep trying longer than your opponent, stay unwaveringly patient and hang on until he breaks down. Bowls championships are won on the practice green and in your mind. So begin your preparation for any special event in plenty of time. Never fear defeat because if you do you will never dare to use your best shots to win in a crisis. A true professional in any sport must remain cool, unemotional in the application of his shots yet be sensitive enough to raise his game in a critical situation. In golf they say “never up, never in”. In crises many more bowls are short and thin than wide and long. Arm tension is usually to blame. The tighter the situation, the more the need for a relaxed delivery. Be meticulous in giving your opponent possession of the green the moment your bowl stops running. Otherwise the umpire may warn or penalise you and spoil your attention and concentration. On very slow greens it is extremely difficult to curl round short woods and winkle through to the jack. So concentrate on plugging shots into the head to stop a big score against you. If there is a cluster of bowls in front of the jack, waste no time, use your third man or even number two to clear some away so you can have room to manoeuvre. If your lead beats theirs and you have one or two bowls near the jack, defend at once with a bowl round the back of the jack. When skipping, strive in creating a head that allows you to draw on either hand. Minimise your need for „great shots‟ to stay level. If you feel tension taking control, walk up the green, study the head with full concentration and soothe your nerves by using breathing as you calmly walk back to the mat. Make your mind take control of your body and then play your shot. No one can sustain his „ideal-performance state‟ for fifty-two weeks of the year. So strive for your IPS at the three or so most important events of your year. Good sportsmanship makes friends, and friends help you to like yourself. Liking yourself is an important factor in your total mental make-up. Your concentration can vary as quickly as every three or four seconds. Learn from experience your best time from „on the mat until grassing your bowl‟ and then try to stick to it. Each time you deliver, be aware of which hand should bring you the best outcome. Do not cast out sensible analysis and stick unthinkingly to one hand shot after shot.