Keeping your concentration is a key skill in lawn bowls. Its a game that can last several hours, and a drop in concentration at the wrong moment can cost the game. Here is a list of 5 things you can do to improve your concentration when playing.
Concentration is key in bowls. From the moment you plan your shot to the moment you release you need to be fully focused on delviering the bowl down your taget line as smoothly and deliberately as possible.
From bitter experience it is a horrible feeling to lose concentration at the worst moment in a game, and find yourself down a sack full of shots!
In this article I’ll take you through 5 ways to improve your concentration when playing lawn bowls. Lets dive in…
Why Concentration is important
First, we need to understand why concentration is so important in bowls. For me, there are 3 reasons:
- match awareness
- shot awareness
- body awareness
Firstly, match awareness. You need to be concentrating enough to be able to be aware of the state of the match. Concentrating on the match means you can adjust your shot selection on what is needed, as well as adjusting your tactics based on what you are seeing.
For example, if it’s the last end and you are up by 3 in the match, you don’t need to play a risky firing shot if you are only down 1 on the end. This is an extreme example, but a game of bowls can be won and lost on many of these small situations.
It is very common, especially among players who play lead, to not be fully aware of what shot they should be playing.
Getting into a rhythm of playing the same draw shot is beneficial, but it is important to keep concentrating on what shot needs to be played. This is again linked to match awareness, and being aware of unnecessary risks, or not being aware of possible benefits.
The worst kind of shot awareness is when you arrive on the mat not fully committed to what shot you are about to play. Keeping your concentration before you even pick up your bowl is key, so when you are on the mat you can focus 100% on delivering the shot.
The number one reason for bad deliveries is not delivering the bowl the same each and every time.
Common faults is the cause of these “1-in-4 bad bowls”. The things we see all the time like:
- not following through fully
- stepping across your body
- swinging the arm across your body
This is caused by not having the correct body awareness when we deliver the bowl.
When you practice you should have in your mind the key one or 2 things that you need to do to deliver the bowl correctly. Things like, alignment of the hips, or the path of the arm. These should always be part of your body awareness when you bowl.
A loss in concentration in any of these 3 things can impact on your game.
Reasons why you lose concentration
It’s all well and good knowing why concentration is important, but it can be just as important to know why you’re not able to concentrate. Lets look at a couple.
If you are a recreational bowler, then it’s likely that you’re playing your games in an evening after working all day. This is also a compounding issue as you will get more tired as you play the game.
There are other reasons why tiredness creeps in. Particularly hot weather, or dehydration can make you feel tired, as well as playing multiple games in a day during a tournement.
Tiredness is probably the biggest reason why you aren’t able to concentrate during a game.
Not prioritising it
Some newer bowlers just don’t realise concentration is a big deal. They just rock up with their set of bowls and chuck them down.
The first step in improving your concentration, and improving your game is understanding it’s importance to your performance.
Now lets look at how you can fix it.
5 Ways To Improve Concentration
Here are my 5 tips on improving concentration when playing bowls.
#1 Focus on the shot, not the score
One big problem for bowlers is concentrating on the wrong things. Focusing on the score, or the outcome of the game will simply use up the concentration you do have, leaving little left for the acts which you can control.
As long as you are focusing on what you can control, you will see a marked improvement on your ability to concentrate on your game when it matters.
#2 Take your mind off the game when you can
Being “switched on” all the time is draining. Eagerly watching your opponent’s shot wick off three bowls in the head and rest on the jack isn’t helpful, or encouraging.
Try practicing not watching from time to time. When you look at the head you can focus on what opportunities are presented to you. You are not concentrating on what just happened, because you didn’t see it!
You can simply focus on what you need to do now to win the game.
#3 Trust the process
Similar to the first point – focusing too much on outcomes is counter-productive.
It is much better to make a plan, focus on that during the game, and trust it will bring results. So long as the process is right the results will come.
In game trust in the process and let the rest follow.
#4 Practice visualisation
I’m a huge fan of visualisation. It’s been proven to increase performance, and helps prepare your mind for n upcoming game.
An additional benefit to it is improved concentration, as it is effectively a version of meditating. Practicing visualisation creates clarity of thoughts and actions, both of which allows you to stay concentrating on your actions for longer.
#5 Have a routine
A proper pre-mat routine not only repairs your body for the shot by getting yourself aligned correctly, but it also prepares your mind.
As you practice your routine more and more your mind gets used to the idea that when you are preparing you are about to deliver the bowl. This in-turn “switches on” your brain and concentration.
Staying focused on your routines helps you get in the right mental state, which leads to better body awareness.
Concentration is key in bowls. Keeping it going, and keeping on what you need are just as important.
Follow the 5 tips in this guide and you’ll find your concentration improve, and in turn so will your results.