HOW TO WORK ON FEELING THE WEIGHT
by Bill Boettger, a National Team Coach
As with any skill, meaningful practice is essential. First off, you should establish your “Natural Length” on the green you are on. Natural length is the distance the bowl finished when delivered with your best smooth relaxed draw weight delivery. This weight should be the easiest to duplicate.
Roll your first bowl to your natural length. Have the coach remove the bowl and replace its position with a coin. The bowl is removed so you don’t have a visual aid for distance.
Now roll the next three bowls in turn, trying to end with the same weight as the first. For starters, a three foot tolerance in front or behind the coin would be acceptable to count a point in the drill. This tolerance can be narrowed to one foot as skill increases. There is no penalty for being off-line.
Repeat for 10 ends. 25 out of 30 is a good score. Once you have developed a ‘feel’ at your natural length, you can repeat the drill for longer and shorter ends.
Assuming you have that smooth, consistent delivery referred to earlier, the job of changing weight is quite easy.
To increase weight, you stand more erect on the mat, take a linger back-swing and take a larger first step.
To decrease the weight you lower your centre of gravity by crouching lower. This forces a shorter back-swing and a shorter first step.
Increasing Length: Roll a bowl to any length. With your second, third and fourth bowl try to pass the previous bowl delivered. You get one point for each successful bowl. Don’t reach the ditch. Do ten ends. A score over 25 is good.
Decreasing Length: Roll a bowl to any length. With the other three try to come up short of the previously delivered bowl. Score it the same as the increasing drill. Do not go shorter than the hogline.
In game situations you use the early ends to develop a feel for the different lengths being played, and then in the crunch use the length that feels the best.
Have you ever wondered what makes a bowler a great bowler? Do you ever wonder what it takes to win the big game or maybe just make it to the next level of competition? It’s all about the fundamentals and more importantly, a consistent draw. Being able to draw well (and consistently) will win you more ends and more games than having any other shot in your arsenal. A good draw can help you turn 1 point into 2 points or could turn an opponent’s score from a 3 to a 1 and in a tight game that’s a huge advantage.
Here’s a quick drill to try out if you ever get out practicing.
This is a very simple drill where you set up a green, but you will not use a jack. Start by rolling you first bowl along any given line with any weight you choose. The key to this drill is to get the rest of your bowls down the same line with the same weight so you land all four bowls within a 2 foot radius of each other. The reason this is called “The Caterpillar” is that a perfect end should end up looking like a caterpillar with all four bowls resting on each other in a line. This helps work on your line and weight and most importantly, your consistency. Being able to throw the same bowl over and over is the ultimate goal in bowls.
To add a factor of discipline to the drill you may also want to try going up the green to retrieve any bowls you throw more than two feet short of the initial bowl and re-play them. This can help train your mind to never throw a short bowl, always be up to the head. Give this a try and see if it helps your game, any time you can improve your draw you are taking a huge step in the right direction.
Check out the videos in the links below.
A fun, interactive game