As any Canadian knows, the winters in Canada can be long and full of snow. Without many bowls-specific indoor clubs in Canada, how can you stay involved this offseason? We talked to Saskatchewan-native Alex Scott and Nova Scotian John Siteman to find out what they do to stay at the top of their game through the long winter season.
- Stay Active: Whether working out, going for a run, playing another winter sport, or just stretching and rolling “ghost” bowls in your basement, staying loose and limber is crucial to being able to excel next spring. Despite not being an overly physical sport, if you haven’t been active for several consecutive months, you could be in for a world of trouble. Playing in a tournament after taking 6 months off is akin to trying to do 500 lunges without proper warm-up. The likely result? Injury and soreness.
Says Alex Scott from Saskatoon, “I roll imaginary bowls in my house during the winter. For real, it gives me a visual, keeps the motion/mechanics intact and allows you to stay in the zone, even if you aren’t actually bowling. As an example: I have fully transitioned to having my left foot ahead of my right foot when I’m on the mat (I was unconventional and always had my right foot ahead of my left for years). It took me 2 full off-seasons to make that change! With a 3rd off-season approaching, I am ready to seek and destroy the ambitious souls of 2020!”
- Watch archived bowls footage: Whenever you get the itch to play the game but can’t, find some of your favourite matches online and develop your game from the mental side. With numerous countries now archiving their games on YouTube and Facebook, there is lots of online footage available to keep you fresh on strategy and help improve your game plan for the following year. Scott also recommends reading up on bowls too: “Winning Becomes You”, by Lachlan Tighe and “Bowl with Bryant”, by David Bryant are two of his personal recommendations.
- Stay connected with other competitive bowlers: Many people go into hibernation once the season is done only to come back and find that several dynamics, rules, policies and teams have shifted dramatically. In the competitive world, the landscape is fluid so don’t get lost in the shuffle! Stay connected and network.
- Plan: The winter is the best time to lay out your plans for the coming year. What tournaments will you enter next year? When will you practice? What will you practice? How often? What are your goals for the year? How will you achieve them? Working with a coach to develop your annual plan over the winter is a great way to stay involved during the offseason. Whatever your plans are, ensure you are valuing what you choose to do. Don’t force anything that doesn’t suit you as a player. Some people value Provincial’s, National’s, Club events, cash tournaments, International Open’s, National Team Events, Coaching, Residing on a Board, Marketing, etc. Make sure you prioritize what you want to do and make an effort to improve your game with however you see fit.
- Try Short Mat: Although it’s a different game then regular bowls, it still requires the same concentration. It gives you the edge when your season picks back up and you’re immediately hitting all of your shots! If you don’t have short mat in the area, why not look to set one up in a local school gym, church basement, or community centre? The mats are only 45 feet in length, and can be rolled up for easy storage when not in use.
- Cross-Training: If you haven’t yet given it a try, curling in the winter can help keep your activity up and your mental skills sharp. There are many valuable cross-overs between bowls and curling that help ensure you are ready to hit the green in top shape when spring finally arrives.
- Take a Vacation: Pack a bag with your bowls and head down south where it’s warmer and you can still play! The US Open is one of the marquee options for open level championships but not the only one you can play in! Southern locations such as Florida and Arizona both offer rich opportunities to play bowls while the snow flies up north.
These are just some ideas for you to stay on top of your game during the offseason. As always we love hearing from you. Let us know what you do to hone your bowls skills in the offseason!