A Fluid Delivery

One Coaches Viewpoint (Rob Judson)….what do you think?

Most of us are familiar with the simple act of tossing a ball of paper into a waste basket. Our brain visualises the extent to which the air will retard the paper ball and we project the paper ball with sufficient speed to reach the mouth of the target basket. We optimise accuracy by visualising and aiming toward the centre point of the circular rim of the target, so that the paper ball drops cleanly inside. A dart player similarly aims at a dart board, except that a dart follows a flatter trajectory and at sufficient speed so that it lodges into the vertical board. A golfer putts a ball in a direction that overcomes any uneven levels of the green, and at sufficient speed to overcome the friction of the green and reach the cup with a little momentum to spare.

In none of these or equivalent tasks should the performer give conscious thought to the geometry of the delivery movement. The brain should visualise, mentally rehearse and control the execution of accurate movement. Adopting an instinctive ''feel" for the required force and direction of action is neuro-muscular activity.

Beginner lawn bowlers are commonly taught to adopt a cognitive approach to bowl delivery. Conscious control of delivery speed by adjusting the arc of the delivery arm - the so-called Theory of Elevation - is widely advocated. It likens arm action to that of a pendulum. Muscular force from the shoulder is discounted, if not ignored altogether. Also, conscious control of bowl delivery direction by meticulous foot placement is also widely advocated. Precise placement of the feet is commonly stressed - whereby the anchored 'back' foot is said to cause the 'front' foot to advance precisely in the direction of delivery. However, careful observation and measurement of apparently-random variations in step placement and angling of the front foot suggests that delivery line errors should be larger than those that actually occur. Mental control of the delivery arm's action tends to offset some footwork variability. Bowlers using a cognitive approach tend often to fidget and appear distracted during delivery preparation. Their minds are fully engaged in various internal and environmental considerations. Without a 'feel' for an effective delivery, uneven acceleration and flicking of the delivery arm is often apparent. Furthermore, the random or premature movement of head, trunk and limbs often destabilises the delivery posture. It becomes obvious that the brain is being denied its proper role.

Expert bowlers tend to calmly and confidently position themselves for delivery. Their delivery action is fluid and intense concentration is generally apparent. They give no thought to the geometry of body movement. As the delivery arm accelerates smoothly from a steady shoulder, the rest of the body forms a stable, supporting framework for that fulcrum. Their minds are fixated on the perfect delivery, which they can 'feel' or 'sense' throughout the movement. Until the mind becomes trained so that intent synchronises with movement, bowler improvement may be a protracted or hopeless cause.

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