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Talking Tactically

September 2006 Dumb & Dumber: Experience, Skill (column 196)

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Lachlan Tighe…..Talking tactically
Weekly coaching column

(column 196, September 2006 a view on bowls coaching)
Dumb & Dumber: experience, skill

I have a constant frustration in having to listen to ‘experienced’ people in bowls, especially if they harp on the point of ..we don’t need to change (to succeed), or reinforcing old and false approaches.

Per instance listening to the Victorian juniors express concern that I am encouraging them to be vocal and supportive when training and playing when they are told at their clubs not to do that at all. What utter rubbish ! Why adhere to standards that are the essence of mediocrity. When are we prepared to say enough is enough and lets thoroughly enjoy the game, it is a game remember !

Oh, be careful to not assume I am asking all of you to be raucous, noisy. Simply let yourself be seen or heard to be in support through your body or verbal language.

Anyway to my point. Heck in the 1950s/ 1960s it was not unusual for the top rugby and AFL players of the day were known to do warm ups, analyse skill elements and undertake rehearsal features in training.

I listened to a football coach retell a story of his earlier life in coaching recently. Essentially a top player did his own thing rather than perform a set pattern of play and the team won. The coach exploded because that player had not practiced ‘his own thing’.

The coach argued that having the team know via trained practice what to do in set situations gave everyone a sense of certainty. It also gave each team member a game plan that equipped them to compete, to cope with the pressure to be applied in a competition.

That one player, like too many ‘experienced’ bowlers, did not understand because all he could see was that the team won. This time! It is not about him, it is ALL about the team. And it is about knowing the expected.

Skill is what makes the complex look so simple. As Rowan said to me once while viewing a state test match….the highly skilled bowlers appear so composed. The Malaysians undergo rigorous and varied skills training. They are a delightful squad of people, and, they have a high degree of self discipline.

It did not come because of ‘experience’. That skill level is acquired through a program of proper preparation and acceptable standards.

The essence of bowls is pretty simple. However pressure for elite competitors, and us other folk too, is executing the delivery with utmost precision when it counts, or as pressure mounts.

Whether it works, i.e. they get the shot or not, is not the point. The point is you want to perform in those difficult and stressful situation. Doing it easily when you are winning is never a concern.

‘Experience’ in bowls terms is Tuesday and Thursday practice games at the club pre or post beer. That experience is widespread and for elite sport levels utterly useless. Try telling your top club bowlers that and they will harangue you out the proverbial door. Guess what they would'nt know because their experience of elite performance is limited.

Acquiring skill, and excellence, is performing and persisting at training so that these deliveries required in elite competition can be played with an assurance (that the skill and work are there to call upon).

Next time someone at your club sprouts forth about them being ‘experienced’; check their performance credentials before allowing their words to enter into your historical brain.

Ric Charlesworth is acknowledged as one of the greats in Olympic coaching through his gold medal successes in hockey. He maintained …….experience is overrated unless you LEARN from the experience.' With his credentials I am paying full attention to Mr Charlesworth.

Excellence has never been out of fashion.

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