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Talking Tactically

August 2006 Spotting talent, competing naturally (column 192)

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Lachlan Tighe…..Talking tactically
Lawnbowls com.au/weeklycolumn

(column 192, August 2006 a view on bowls coaching)
‘Spotting talent, competing naturally’

Like many of you, we here in Australia can watch bowls weekly on national television. Having seen these squads first hand, it is interesting to see the national coaches and High Performance team behave with players during the competition.

Firstly, to all you bowlers, get out and watch, and rewatch, the best bowls performances, on television or elsewhere. By doing that you, like these players, build a storage of ideas / approaches to better your bowls, to employ tactics seen in these games, to find a formula for your success.

But, let’s ensure you understand that real talent is a product of diligent practice and I think nurtured instinctive play (encouraged in training). My favourite male players are the Malaysian pairs team, a ripper duo. Yet the lead was always encouraged to spend some time enjoying the skill of driving. Sure enough in one game he was asked once, only once, to drive full steam ahead and yes he belted the target whammo ! Similarly the skip when he played the semi final of the world indoor at Warilla had four drives on one end….he trained to make the judgement call, though his four drive choice surprised both spectators and commentators.

Some approaches to coaching are forcing the players to ‘toe the line’. Good training enables players to get a feel for the possibilities and options and their level of skill for all these. Then in the game they instinctively choose that option where they see greatest possibility, feel most comfortable at this time. Ask any sports psychologist and see what answer you get to the above.

I like the introduction of younger players in bowls squads. Australia has done it well, Malaysia has done it now for a decade.

Those states and countries who have yet to foster youth wholeheartedly will continue to remain in arrears. But don’t read into this that I forego good older players because they are older. No, simply if there is equal performance between old and young go the youth.

Why ?

I like the natural appetite for training, fun and games, intense competition, that young players bring to bowls. I like their natural optimism which they bring to a team. And their capacity to develop is greater than the older comparable player. We see too many glum chums throughout our sport trying to preserve ‘their spots’. Go look at your club as a start if you doubt me. That mindset travels up the ‘pathway’ to international level.

As a coach I endeavour to seek out that appetite, that hunger and whet it, harness and direct it where possible. Might I say that I have not always succeeded with some young players who I coached over time. That’s part of the journey.

I subscribe to the view that my role / joy is to support and assist the players to achieve. We train diligently and do so encouraging each player to compete instinctively when in the heat of battle. They make the decisions. Too many of us on the sidelines as spectators, managers, selectors, coaches carry on about (the one) decision made by the player.

Hey, the player did’nt have time to hold a committee meeting. Though sometimes watching the BA squad and their HP team it seems they are all compiling the agenda pre the meeting.

Anyone I coach I simply trust in their preparation and only want to hear their response as….I chose to play or call that shot with utter confidence. Full stop !

Spotting talent has variations. I have read stories where young footballers did not get early consideration at elite level because their club did not rate them highly. When of course an elite coach saw them in their sport he / she wants them elevated immediately.

That just shows individual coaches and selectors view players differently. That is no different in bowls.

You young bowlers have to persist. You may be quite good but somehow don’t set the coaches or selectors on fire, yet.

How do we (coaches / selectors) spot that rare gem ?

Is there something special ?

Then again a fleeting show of excellence might give off all the right vibes to the coaches and selectors. Two or three of the young ladies I have coached over time had that rare quality, but the added ingredient is that work ethic. One cannot go without the other.

For the NZ readers, it is well known that the great rugby champion flanker Michael Jones did not make it into the under 21 side, though he went on to be an international great.

All that shows is that opinions vary and in the respectful view of the then selectors he was’nt right.

That time.

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