Many bowlers shy away from any form of psychology, believing it to be too deep and only for the radical or highly intelligent. Visualisation is simple and a few of our elite bowlers utilise it with great success. In more than 100 years of bowls in this country, nothing new has been learnt as far as our deliveries are concerned so the only real advancement to be made is through our mental approach.
Unfortunately we everyday bowlers don’t have ready access to a sports psychologist unless we can afford a private session and they don’t come cheaply. I’m surprised that one of our deep thinking champion bowlers hasn’t written a book on the mental approach to lawn bowls. Bowler/authors such as Peter Belliss, Barry Salter and myself have touched on the subject but not at length or in detail. Authors such as Timothy Galway and Rudi Webster have written comprehensive books for Tennis players, golfers and cricketers so where are our bowl’s authors hiding?
My belief in visualisation is supported by the following two articles and I suggest that if you wish to raise the standard of your game, now’s the time to make a start.
An American soldier who previously played golf off a handicap of five was held prisoner of war for four years, most of it spent in solitary confinement. One week after his return to the U.S.A he played a game of golf and, to everyone’s surprise,except himself, shot a sub par round. “How did you do it” asked a journalist, “when you haven’t had a club in hand for more than four years and you are all skin and bone.” “Why not” replied the veteran, “I played 18 holes of golf every day of those four years, otherwise I would not have survived.” Those daily games of golf were not physically played of course, but visualised. And in the greatest possible detail to take the soldier’s mind off the deplorable conditions. He obviously had a great love for the game and remained dedicated to his chosen sport.
To emphasise the value of visualisation I quote the findings of an American authority making a detailed study of the subject. Two women’s basketball teams were so evenly matched that each had won their home game against the other by one point. One team undertook the normal physical training for one week whilst the second team was requested to pursue a course of visualisation for the same period. Most sceptics were surprised when the latter team won the match easily.
These examples clearly illustrate just how important visualisation is and, to me, it indicates great significance in our game of lawn bowls. Almost all of us, believe it or not, already use visualisation .To get our correct line we really imagine the path the bowl will take and from that path we decide on the amount of “green” required for our bowl to finish on the jack.
The moral to earlier illustrations is obvious. Whether you’re in position to practice regularly or not (and practice is of the utmost importance) spend plenty of time in mental practice by vividly imagining yourself, not only delivering the perfect bowl but also seeing yourself, in every possible detail, as being successful, playing the greatest game of your life and winning the match or tournament upon which you have set your goal. It’s up to you.