The key to improving your game is a smooth, consistent delivery. However, it often feels like there are always issues with our game, and one of the most frustrating ones is “dumping”.
Dumping can lead to a variety of issues, not just the poor result of the shot. It has knock on effects to your weight control in the game, as well as affecting your confidence.
In this guide I will take you through the main causes of dumping, and how you can fix it.
What is “dumping”?
In lawn bowls “dumping” refers to when you release the bowl too soon and it bounces into the ground at force.
Ideally a bowl should roll out of the hand in a smooth motion, however a dumped bowl will hit the ground before it begins it’s journey up the rink.
Why is it a problem?
A dumped delivery causes many issues, including:
- a loss of weight in the shot
- the bowl taking the incorrect line
- possible injury
Lets look at those in a bit more detail.
Loss of weight on the shot
When the bowl hits the ground it will lose a lot of the force allied to it in the delivery motion. Basically, when it hits the bowl will slow down – often significantly – which will result in the bowl coming up short
Bowl taking the incorrect line
As the bowl effectively bounces when it is dumped, it can be up to luck as to whether the bowl stays on the right line.
A dumped bowl can bounce off of it’s intended line, or it can cause a wobble in the bowl, which will also affect how much it turns.
In rare instances a dumped bowl can cause injury. A bowl can get jammed between the ground and the bowlers hand, which can hurt the fingers.
Again, as the bowl is bouncing, it can bounce up as the hand is going through the follow through. In rare occurrences, the two can collide, which can cause injury.
What causes dumping?
A dumped bowl happens when the bowl is released too soon. The incorrect release timing can be either through choice (a timing issue) or by accident (a grip issue).
The first task in fixing the issue is to work out which you are doing, then mindfully practising to reduce the risk of it happening.
How to fix
There are for stages to fixing your dumping deliveries. These are:
- fix timing issues
- fix release issues
Lets take a look in turn.
Before you can fix the issue you need to fully understand the problem. To do this you need to investigate what is the root cause of your issue – is it a timing issue, or a grip issue?
There are a couple of ways to do this:
- memory – The best investigation tool you have is your memory bank of every time it has happened recently. I certainly remember each one well! How does it feel when it happens? Big clues are if you had been struggling for a grip on the bowl, or if the rest of the delivery didn’t feel the same
- record yourself – this can be a tricky one, both in the setup and trying to capture the issue. This is especially true if its only an intermittent issue. However, it can be beneficial to set up a camera (your phone will be fine) side on as you have a roll up (be sure to note which deliveries dumped). Watch the video back and see if you can spot differences
- have others watch you – this can be a great tool, especially in a team game, as you will always have 2 or three teammates you can watch out for any issues
Using these three tools you should be able to work out what the root cause is – poor timing, or a poor grip.
It’s OK to not know the exact reason at this time, its just important for you to know where to focus.
NOTE: It can be possible to have “a bit of both” causing your dumping, however they rarely happen at the same time, so you can focus on the one causing the most issues.
Timing issues are the hardest to fix. Grip issues can be handled before you begin your action, whereas the timing problem needs to be fixed as you release the bowl. The best way to get around this is to use a reference point that you can use to train your mind to release the bowl.
One trick to help with timing your release is to focus on the point of the ground where your hand meets the grass. This is your release point. Practice your bowling motion without a bowl – imagining the exact point at which you will let go of the bowl.
Another option is to focus on the toes on your front foot – again using it as a reference point to release the bowl. Often the hand reaches the ground in line with the toes. This makes it an ideal reference point.
This will likely require some free practice to find what works for you.
If you have found that the grip is the issue, and you’re having problems maintaining control of the bowl through out the delivery, then you have a couple of options.
The first thing to investigate is to check the grip you use. To find out more on this check my guide on the best lawn bowls grips.
Following that there are several steps you can take to improve the grip. Something like using a polish on our bowls as a grip enhancer can improve your grip no end. In extreme cases moving down a size or two on your bowls. To find out more check out my guide on how to improve your grip.
Try out a few different techniques and products and see what works for you.
Finally, once you have identified the main issue you need to practice on the green.
The key to embedding a new improvement is to be mindful of the change to begin with, until it becomes second nature.
Find something in your delivery routine that forces you to get into the right place to deliver the bowl. For example, if you have changed your grip, be sure to place your fingers into position deliberately.
The same goes for timing issues. Find a point in your delivery that “triggers” you to release the bowl.
Dumping your bowls is incredibly frustrating. It causes so many issues with your delivery, affecting both line and weight.
However, there is always a root cause. With proper investigation and practice you can remove it from your game.