I believe there is a way to make some improvements to your game from the comfort of your own home. Sure, it’s not quite as good as getting down the green for a roll up, but it’ll certainly help.
It’s safe to say that everyone knows the best way to get better at bowls is to play and practice as often as possible. This is great for those who can get down to the club 5 or 6 nights a week. But what about those of us who can only get there for our weekly triples match?
Here are my 6 tips for practicing lawn bowls at home.
If you are new to the sport of bowls, then you may not have a pre-mat routine. The pre-mat routine is incredibly important at getting yourself in the correct mindset and alignment to deliver your bowl correctly.
This will usually involve aligning yourself to your chosen line, stepping onto the mat, aligning your feet, hips and shoulders to the line and focusing on your aiming point.
It’s important that you practice this routine regularly. You want it to be second nature, so you don’t have to think about it in game.
To do this at home, just visualise the point in your mind. You can use a tea towel for your mat if you want to physically step onto something, but this is optional.
Just be sure you perform each element with intent, so you can relax once you hit the greens later in the week.
Nothing is quite the same as getting the weight of a bowl in your hand. Obviously pinging a lawn bowl around the kitchen is unlikely to go down well with your significant other! The next best thing is to practice with a soft ball – such as a dog toy, or plastic ball.
This can mimic the weight of a lean bowls jack, and can be rolled along the carpet without causing too much damage.
This can be great for practicing, especially with some small targets (such as discs or CDs) just in front of you. It can offer a great visual guide as to how your alignment is.
Visualisation is a great way to improve your game from home.
The mental aspect of the game is often overlooked, but lawn bowls is a mainly mental game. By visualising we can prepare our mind for the game ahead, which in turn can help with our performance.
The key to a great delivery action is repeatability. This is usually practiced to get a good “groove”. Simply put, a grooved action is where the muscle memory takes over and you can deliver the bowl exactly the same without thinking about it.
In addition to this, balance and core strength are important, as they allow you to stay in control of the action regardless of if it’s your 1st shot of the game, or your 50th.
Try things like lunges, or balancing poses to improve. They don’t require much room, ao they are ideal for practcing at home. You can see more on exercises to improve your lawn bowls game here.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then it could be a great place to practice your technique. Even a small garden can be an adequate space to practice with.
Much like practicing with a ball indoors, you can practice your technique and alignment in a small space in the garden.
To do this I would recommend practicing your action in a slow and controlled fashion. This means you can get a good “groove” in your action, without having to roll the bowl fast. It is also likely that the grass in your garden is longer than on your local bowls green, so your bowl won’t travel so far. This may take a bit of “trial and error”, so start slow and work up to something that is comfortable to practice with, but without destroying the plants!
The final thing you can do is practice reading the head. This is an incredibly important skill, especially for those who play in the team events (e.g. triples and fours).
You can find hundreds of old games on youtube -including indoors from the World Championships and outdoor Commonwealth Games. Just watch the games and practice pausing the video, and thinking about what you would recommend to the player about to bowl.
Obviously nothing is quite the same as practicing down at your local club, but there are some things you can do at home.
Visualisation, and practising pre-mat routines are a couple of the best things you can do on a daily basis to improve your game at home.