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Talking Tactically

September 2006 GRAND PRIX GRAND PERFORMANCE (column 197)

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Lachlan Tighe…..Talking tactically
Weekly coaching column

(column 197, September 2006 a view on bowls coaching)

Firstly, congrats to Joyce and Nathan for winning the Barham Grand Prix last week. And to Willow and Shane for doing so well, so near yet so far.

It is what was reported on the BA website, gee that sites improved, that is the Lesson to Learn for bowlers and coaches everywhere.

Far too many good bowlers look enviously, nay cynically, over the green to the top elite bowlers and mutter comments about being as good as those players (over there). By the end of September I will do four more training / coaching workshops at either club / squad level and it would not surprise me to overhear similar mutterings from the good players about the few very good elite players in any of these groups.

What pricked my ears, caught my eye from the BA website ?

It was the comments quoted from the four mens and womens singles finalists at the conclusion of their games. Read it, hear it, and see how you react to it.

One winner quoted ‘…..I have been practicing set play formats for two and half years’. How many bowlers out there entering these Prix events can say that. Well the winner did, no wonder she wins, regularly. Coaches have a duty to set the training to prepare players for these formats. You don’t have a coach ! Gee you are falling off the pace nowadays if that is the case. Listening to Sarah, as the previous Grand prix singles winner talk enthusiastically about her coach Jason was a revelation. Preparing Judy for the 2007 world title will include training for formats as above. Players it takes effort, yet effort wins Prix events.

One runner-up quoted ‘… brain went missing – it was purely a mental thing’. That happens to all of us, too frequently. Though again that mental focus can be trained so coaches have to introduce a program that provides an intensity of focus which can automatically flow from the training into the event. Tune out for a second and second is where you come.

The other runner up quoted ‘… the tie break the winner took the opportunities when presented’. Training sessions have to include such situations. The simple ones such as add a shot to your score with your last bowl. Block an obvious entry for the opponent when you hold a few shots. Set the heads in training and repeat the practice routine. Over and over and over again.

A runner up was quoted ‘……the pressure was starting to build, if you are struggling for line and length, you are gone’. Firstly pressure is what you perceive. I encouraged the Malaysians to see the game at this elite level as an enjoyable challenge, not as pressure, and I did so through continuous reinforcement at training. The pressure comes because of the expectation from the outcome in being titleholder, famous, financially rewarded, etc. Coaches need to train the players in ‘pressure’ situations so when a player appears in major events their eyes, ears and motor memory can say…been there, done that (in training). Of course that works if you do in fact train that way.

Hello, where are you all !!! Training the better way for a higher performance I hope.

And that other wording ‘….you are gone’ from our runner up. This is truly a state of mind. The whole purpose of the better level of training is to be able to fall back on what you do well to get yourself out of that deep hole of despair, bowling poorly. Bowl poorly, think hardly. You need mechanisms to allow you not to be preoccupied for too long with the substandard deliveries. You need to be trained in mental and tactical skill approaches.

Yet both these runners up perform superbly for a week. Their comments show how little things (mostly above the shoulders) can detract from the winning performance. If, however, the two runners up don’t go out and do it better in training, then, maybe, the big prizes may elude them again in the future.

The rest of you bowlers reading about those four singles players already should be out doing supervised training as you did not reach the dizzy heights of a Grand Prix win. As Sarah will vouch one Grand Prix win is truly satisfying, however to win another is hard yards as all the field of bowlers are learning each major event.

Again, thanks to the finalists in both the Barham Grand Prix singles as your finals were valuable lessons for all of us to learn from in future.

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