Coaching – Strategies and tactics

by bqmedia on April 13, 2022

By Felix Purcell, BQ Coaching Committee

Strategic aims: Some bowlers express their tactical aim for an event as winning at all costs, or winning if possible; however, a focus on winning has some difficulties.

Firstly, it suggests ego instead of task involved motivation for participating in the sport. All players should focus totally on staying in the process of each delivery and finishing in the desired target area, not dwelling on the event outcome. Even top ranking competitors and teams experience losses.

Secondly, winning or being defeated depends on many factors. Competitors can control only their performances and all players in the team should aim to secure the greatest possible advantage of shot numbers through low risk tactics. Such an aim would apply to the delivery of every bowl in every end of the match whatever the possible or probable outcome. This would imply a quality of performance that sustains pressure on opponents right to the last bowl of the match. If all players in the team, or squad, realise the calibre and quality of each players performance individually, it will yield a collective winning result for the team. This is a bonus and reward for each player’s individual efforts. In summary, the basic strategic aim should relate to ability, and performance, not the game outcome.

Leads should:

  • avoid playing the same hand end after end, as the opposition lead will soon recognise your tactic. However, if one side of the rink is kinder, the team should direct its play on that side where possible.
  • avoid the temptation to change hand for your second delivery. By changing hand a lead can immediately leave opponents with resting opportunities on both sides of the jack (better the hand you know).
  • take note that any tactical advantage can be frittered away by poor jack delivery.

Leads and seconds shouldn’t attack the head in personal attempts to beat the opposition lead and second, by niggling weighted shots, unless instructed by the skip. This ego driven behaviour can leave your team down four when the second leaves the mat. It’s not about you ending up with shot. Just draw two bowls close in order to build the head,. This builds a solid foundation for your team members who play after you. It’s all about teamwork, not self.

Basic tactical concepts are an element of all sports and are neither unfair nor poor sportsmanship. Tactics mainly involve using common sense and avoiding poor decisions.


  • All players within a team should not only demand 100 per cent of themselves, but also help each other produce a 100 per cent effort for the entire team. If a team member is struggling, do all you can to support and encourage them, which will help them regain confidence.
  • No negative communication within the squad or team. Team is everything, do all you can for team harmony and compatibility.
  • Cohesive teams are successful. A healthy team cohesion results in points on the scoreboard. Uninhibited positive communication using considerate words and positive body language are cohesive. A champion team will beat a team of champions.


Sometimes, a skip has to bail a team out of trouble, but the earlier players in the team are equally responsible for the situation. To ensure the team does not continually get into trouble, individual players must play their role and do their job. A skip’s duty is to encourage a good relationship with the third, which will lead to mutual respect and support within the team. Each person in the team should feel equal to the others; a skip is a part of the team and not above it.

Thirds should not give skips directions on shot selection, unless asked or the head has changed and the skip is not aware of the current situation. If you want to confer, do so as you cross over.

All bowlers, remember to never bowl short, especially when down in the head and not holding shot, as short bowls block access to the jack and the target area of the head. Any movement of the jack is usually rearwards and your team will have great difficulty in converting the head. There’s no excuse for a short bowl.


  • Bongaree BC: Club Coach 28/05/2022 & 29/05/2022
  • Bongaree BC: Skills & Bowling Arm 30/05/2022
  • Mt Gravatt BC: Club Coach 28/05/2022


Duty of care is a legal responsibility that you owe your players to keep them safe. It is not something to fear but rather a tool employed to keep you diligent. Prevention is better than the cure; plan well in an endeavour to foresee any risks, err on the side of caution and let common sense guide you.