Playing skip is a great responsibility. Here are my top tips for lawn bowl skips.
Playing skip for the first time is a huge step up. Now you’re in charge, no more complaining about skips you’ve been playing under, the buck now stops with you.
Of course, there is far more to being a good skip than just making good shots and making something out of nothing. A skip leads their team, both motivationaly and tactically. There’s a lot of moving parts.
For those just stepping up, or for those who want to improve their skills as a skip, here are my top tips for the role.
The ability to read a head as an end progresses is a key skill. Many skips I have seen don’t pay full attention throughout an end and just let their team play what they see.
A quality skip is proactive in his/her shot suggestions, and will communicate with each member of the team to ensure they have a clear understanding of how the head is looking, and how best to improve it.
Being able to motivate your team is crucial. This doesn’t stop once the first jack has been delivered. A great skip will keep everyone focused on the game, whether that be calming your team down if things get tight, keeping players upbeat if things are going badly, or stopping complacency if you are winning.
A skip doesn’t always have to be the best bowler, but they do have to be a top notch people person.
Similarly to the point on reading the head – a good skip will focus more on the 6 shots being played than the two they will eventually play.
Too many average skips see the players before them as just “setting the head up” ready for them to work their magic. The focus should always be on the team – not on yourself.
A great skip is always in communication with their team. This doesn’t have to stop after the game. A good skip will chat to their team about the game, and the game of each individual.
This produces a clear skill progression, and a clarity in the tactics and gameplan in preparation for the next game.
If you work well with your team there is less chopping and changing of players, and a rink can stay together for years – but the key for this longevity is communication, and this starts with the skip.
The buck will always stop with the skip. It doesn’t matter if you lose to a lucky wick or if the green was so bad it was impossible to play on. A skip should remain responsible (accepting blame) and accountable (planning to prevent it happening again).
Players are moved in and out of rinks all the time – but the one player who doesn’t move is the skip.
Get to know the guys and girls on your rink. Watch them in their club competitions, and see how they play the game.
Get to know each individual’s strengths and weaknesses – and plan your tactics accordingly. This will also help when suggesting shots during a game. You will know what shots each individual likes to play, and the ones they have the most success with.
Being a skip is a great honour. It is the time that you are recognised as one of the top performers in your club.
Although you are likely chosen to be a skip based on the quality of your shots, the best skips are quality communicators, motivators and tacticians. Work on the other sides of your game and you will be a top skip in no time.