Planning Ahead By Louis Touyz

  • September 21, 2017

Louis Toyuz with Addie and Naomi

Planning ahead to win a head,
to increase the chances of the chances of success,
with Lawn-Bowls
Louis Touyz; .Bowling enthusiast; certified lawn-bowling coach (Canada); qualified competition marker, and past President Westmount Lawn Bowling Club 2010-2011

Background : Planning ahead to win a head (puns intended) in lawn- bowls takes a little more than most bowlers realize. This skill is well known for those who indulge in activities which develop rational anticipation like chess, In everyday life many develop this skill to maximize use of time, like planning to complete a shopping list at different locations. Yet many people require assistance in learning to think ahead, and to be able to visualize changes resulting from specific actions. Knowing what to expect influences discretionary decisions, and facilitates introduction of changes. This applies particularly strongly to the skills needed in lawn-bowling.
Aim: This article focuses on factors influencing the proposed positioning and plays of lawn-bowls, as the game progresses by bowlers, to optimize building a head to win a head, and to increase the chances of the chances of success.

The mission and aim of the game is to win. Of course with a pedestrian bowl as a lead second or vice, aiming to hit or approximate the jack is expected. But this does not always win games. Just one well placed winner negates all other opposition bowls. The ‘Skip’ is appropriately named; the skip must lead, and should guide his team’s effort to ultimate success. With clever, skilled and talented opposition, the best of strategy and gamesmanship is tested and comes to the fore. This applies to both teams. The skips must devise their plan and tactics to be used as the game progresses. Imagination, talent, adaptability, versatility, experience and insight all play a major role in creating a winning strategy. Accordingly, the directives of the skip must be adhered to. The ultimate outcome of each game and final match results devolves onto skips and their leadership. Each skip gives directives to the team players as to where to place the bowls to secure advantaged for their team. Drawing close to the jack is needed; yet sometimes a shrewd skip will ask for bowls to be behind the jack, and when the skip plays the skip hits the jack back towards the skip’s own bowls. Among many other strategies, this one often secures a high winning score.
The initial bowls in general should be placed close to, but behind the jack. Bowls in front of the jack act as ‘blockers’ but block all subsequent bowls. A skip may request a blocker be placed if it is part of his strategy to make it impossible for the opposition to win. With bowls behind the jack a skilled skip may always be able to drive or wick the jack to more advantageous positions. A strategic blocker should simply be driven out, to allow subsequent bowls a clear road to their target.
With teams, every bowl counts, and each bowl should be played with perfect skill, combined with forethought and planning to try secure a win. Often player’s lose concentration or have a bad delivery, but the skip must optimize every situation, encourage his players to improve, and indicate where, for each bowl, exactly the bowl’s desired resting-stop position in the head.

Newton’s Laws on Physics helps. When two objects touch, and they are not the same size, transfer of energy from the larger object to the smaller one is maximized, and the smaller object will move further
This applies to bowls; when the jack is touching a bowl, and the bowl is hit by an incoming moving bowl, you can be sure the jack will move further from the contact point.
Also if a moving bowl hits a stationary bowl, “hit and lie” happens, in that the potential energy is transmitted from the moving bowl to the stationary one. The rolling bowl will stop in its tracks and the bowl hit will roll away. Sometimes called “Chop and lie,” this is often used by skips to move a bowl away from a close winning position.
A strong delivery, called a ‘driver’ is used. When these powerful deliveries are on target, desirable re-orientation often results; more often than not, the driver-bowl ends up in the ditch. This is one strategy often used when opposition bowls are bunched around the jack, and your teams bowls, by design, are all well behind the jack; a ‘driver’ which renders the jack back towards the bunched bowls, frequently allows for collecting high scores.
The angle at which a moving bowl makes contact is vitally important, as the direction of the energy transfer predetermines the direction of relocation, and hence the new position to which the contact bowl will move. This is referred to as ‘a wick.’ Having some understanding of where a bowl may go with an appropriate wick, often allows bowls to spin at an angle to the benefit of the bowler.
Wicking in lawn- bowls is similar to, but slightly different from, playing with snooker or pool balls. These latter balls are totally spherical and of equal size. Lawn-bowls are uneven, of different weights and have an ideal track along which they run. The orientation of a bowl will affect how it moves if used as a wick target. The skip assesses the final resting position of all the bowls before he starts his bowling attack. If all the bowls lie behind the jack, the aim would be to move the jack back into the winning skip’s terrain. A wick will produce virtually any angle to re-direct a bowl. Judging the point of contact to move a bowl into a desired position demands foresight and understanding. A good wick often changes the whole position of a game.
Sometimes ‘blockers’ are placed to ensure a bowl, or more often the Jack will be obstructed to ensure no change happens. But recall a blocker may act as a hindrance to your teams boles too.
Burning an end: This strategy when used, drives the jack out of bounds. Often burnt-ends are replayed, but also frequently, the number of burnt-ends in a game, are limited by the rules and may handicap the players responsible. Creating a burnt-end is one desperate strategy used by skips when a losing position is inevitable, and thwarting the opposition’s game is the only alternative to stop the progress of their winning score.
Concluding Remarks:
Each player has a specific aim in assisting skips fulfill their mission. The lead should move, get close to, or approximate bowls behind the jack. The second places their bowls as close to the leads as possible; the vice (third) will try knock out winning bowls, place blockers or place bowls where the skip anticipates they are needed. The skip’s final bowls determines the win. This culminates the skip’s strategy of thinking ahead to win the head, and increases the chances of the chances of success.