Crown Green Bowls

Learn to play Crown Green Bowls

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Do we really know how to coach?

This week I had the pleasure of sharing a few beers with a Team GB national coach. It’s not crown green bowls as we don’t have a national side. It is a related sport, but that is not the point of this post.

I got the chance to grill him for 3 hours about the way their coaching system operates, what it takes to be a national level coach, and how their learnings might help my mission to improve crown green development.

Wow! It blew my mind. Even at Level 1, the level of detail they apply is amazing. Level 2 training is a 5 day course.

I don’t have a sports background apart from being a low level bowler for 30 years. I don’t have sports science knowledge or much coaching experience or expertise.

But my view is that coaching takes people on a journey from novice through club to county to national level. Its needed at all these levels as a vital part of the development effort. It should operate separately, but alongside the work to increase participation. As I understand it, most county level bowlers (certainly in our county) get no coaching at all. And new bowlers generally learn from other bowlers, bad habits and all! This is wrong.

I’ve been through the BCGBA Level 1 course. The fundamentals are there, but there is work to be done! Even having passed, I don’t feel very well equipped to teach anything but the basics at a taster lesson. I thought I would have a structured set of sessions I can deliver to a new bowler to properly equip them for club bowling, and some scientific techniques to improve specific delivery issues. Seems I have to work that out for myself from the coaching manual.

As far as I can see, the BCGBA step from Level 1 to Level 2 is mainly based on continued experience. I hope I am wrong. I don’t appear to get additional training to achieve Level 2, I just assist at a Level 2 coaching day and then get assessed when I have 60 hours of time under my belt. I can do the hours, but does that mean I am naturally a better coach? Again, I can see in the manual the technical delivery improvements that a club player should be aiming for when coached by a Level 2 coach. But what I don’t have the knowledge of is the techniques to help someone achieve these improvements.

Here are just a few examples of the sorts of things done at all levels in my friends’ sport that I think could apply to crown green bowls:

1. A structured, documented, programme of coaching sessions with developmental targets designed to improve players at all levels of ability.

2. Detailed progression plans specifically for the technical elements of bowl delivery, including setup, preparation, action and follow through.

3. Improvement techniques for non-technical elements such as concentration, shot selection, tactics, fitness and competitiveness.

4. For players with the most potential, provide individualised coaching programmes covering months or years of improvement, based on the observations of an experienced coach working at a one-to-one level.

My Team GB friend believes coaching could have a big impact quickly in crown green, and I agree. Their sport has gone from a similar position to where we are today to Olympic medal winners in 5 years. Maybe we could have an impact on the North Midlands bowls performance within a few years with a fair wind.

Obviously we don’t have the capabilities, finance or resources to emulate a Team GB setup. But taking all this learning on board I have 4 plans for our county:

1. start working on documenting a structured improvement plan for novices and new club bowlers. See if we can improve my own clubs results and roll out wider to the county if it works.

2. work out a way to trial coaching for one or two more advanced players, hopefully using my friend for support. See if we can get one or two players punching above their expected weight.

3. get myself BCGBA Level 2 accredited.

4. find someone to be county coaching officer and get as many other bowlers into the BCGBA coaching scheme as possible.

Oh, and for those who already bowl we need to get past the attitude I have often encountered that ‘I’ve been bowling for 20 years, I don’t need a coach’. It works for the top football, golf, snooker, tennis players, why not bowls?


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Items of note from yesterday’s BCGBA development meeting

I feel pretty positive after yesterday’s national development officers meeting. There are a lot of areas still needing attention, but some great individual things are being done around the country. I can see things generally moving the right way. And I can see the will is there amongst us… believe me we are all working hard. Just not coordinated enough yet for my liking!

I found the following things of particular interest.

1. Awards Scheme
After a specific request from the South Yorkshire development officer, the coaching team have been working on an Award Scheme from age 4 upwards.
The idea will emulate that used by British Gymnastics, and involve kids working to achieve certain ‘skill’ development starting from being able to roll a new age (foam) bowl without bouncing. At each stage badges and certificates will be awarded. It seems this will be trialled in certain areas this year with a view to national rollout in 2015.
I understand that the outline of the scheme will be shared with the #crowngreenbowls community for input.
If it happens, this is a great step forward. I hope this could be ready for North Midlands to use in 2015 and fully support it.

2. Club IDs
This year every #crowngreenbowls club will be allocated their own unique ID number, with a prefix identifying their county of primary affiliation.
This might not seem significant, but I view it as a first step towards a proper, centralised database of data about our sport. With this we can properly run and promote national campaigns for recruitment, coaching and more.
Don’t get me wrong the data is already around. But it’s very paper based (NR1 forms anyone?) and it’s only updated within leagues and counties, not nationally.
Get the data and give us access to it and we will make it sing!!!

3. Promo video
We were told that a promo video about #crowngreenbowls is to be made. A few hoops still need to be gone through, but it’s pretty much guaranteed. The positive thing is the language being used: ‘appealing to all’, ‘juniors to be featured’, ‘modern style’. Definitely no pensioners dancing to RnB please!!!
I think we’ll get to have an involvement to help steer it. Good!
I still have reservations about this not being part of a bigger, defined marketing strategy. But in the absence of that in the foreseeable future, I’ll take the video anyway. Lets get a great one made, get it shared online and in Social Media, and get some benefit!

In addition, there is going to be an improvement made concerning the way the national development officers’ work is reported. I hope this will be a website published report of activity. This will enable counties, clubs and bowlers to express their opinions on the activity so we can all help steer the future.

Finally, I got 2 items minuted at the end of the meeting. No actions taken, but they’re logged at least!

1. I believe there is a need for the BCGBA/development team to create a set of ‘best practice’ guides and design templates for their own use, and to help individual clubs. These should cover progression from a club starting out on a development journey, to those who already have established coaching and development in place. There are enough clubs, development officers and coaches with experience at different levels to achieve this. Knowledge is power!

2. There should be a national development officer role that sits on the BCGBA management committee. At present there is only a coordinator post which appears to be no more than admin and communication between officers. We need someone with bite to represent development on behalf of the officers group, and to help form and drive national initiatives, and access funding for them.

Onwards and Upwards!

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Update for County committee meeting

Here’s the short development report I presented at last night’s county committee meeting.


North Midlands Development Officer Update Feb 24th 2014

Prepared by Scott Crowther.


County development meeting: March 3rd.

A development meeting open to all clubs and individual bowlers from the North Midlands has been arranged for Monday 3rd March, 7.30pm at Bedworth Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Rye Piece Ringway, Bedworth, Warwickshire CV12 8JH. The meeting will be run by myself with help from Ian McLean from CSW Sport ( and will outline plans for 2014 in coaching, recruitment ideas, Clubmark and more.

Coaching workshop: April 6th.

A BCGBA Level 1 coaches training workshop has been organised for Sunday 6th April (venue and time TBC). It will be delivered by the regional coach, Bob Marsh. Spaces cost £10 and are available for between 4 and 8 people (3 already signed up). Two attendees at previous Level 1 coaching workshops (Scott Crowther and John Hatzer) will be assessed for their Level 1 accreditation on the same date. If successful, these will be the first BCGBA accredited coaches in the county.

National Development Meeting: March 22nd.

I will be attending a meeting of all the BCGBA development officers on March 22nd in Northwich. I am happy to raise questions on behalf of the county, if anyone wants to submit questions to me.


I have now received honorariums from the BCGBA for my work as a development officer. I plan to invest all of this into the county development together with the remainder of the budget provided by the North Midlands county committee last year. It is not yet decided what to spend the budget on, but the plan is to use some for bowls equipment that can be used by any club at public facing Open Days.

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North Midlands development 2014

it’s time to attack 2014!

So I’ve arranged a North Midlands development meeting at Bedworth Ex Serviceman’s club from 7.30pm on Monday 3rd March.
Address is: Rye Piece Ringway, Bedworth, Warwickshire CV12 8JH
Ian McLean from CSW Sport ( will also be along to explain what they do.
The meeting will go through development plans for 2014, and to collect feedback, input and ideas.
It is open to all clubs and any individual bowlers who are interested in attracting new players, coaching or funding.

The current agenda is as follows:

– introductions
– recruitment success case study (Glossop Bowling Club)
– club and public open days
– marketing and promotion
– junior development
– coaching
– Clubmark
– funding options
– AOB.

I hope you’ll find this of interest.
We won’t cover everything in one meeting, but from this initial meeting, hopefully we can forge some good plans and relationships to increase crown green bowls involvement in our county.

Onwards and upwards.

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Development review of 2013

Here is a copy of the development report I submitted for the North Midlands county AGM held in January 2014. I was unable to attend this meeting, so provided the below which was read out at the meeting.

Development Officer report for 2013.
Prepared by Scott Crowther

Firstly my apologies for being unable to attend the AGM today.

From my perspective, the 2013 season was relatively successful. I found out a lot from other counties about what might work for our clubs, and I started to build various relationships to help us. On the other hand we lost around another 100 registered bowlers this season. I am determined to try and reverse this over the next few years.

To summarise 2013 activities, one Level 1 BCGBA coaching course was run with 4 existing bowlers attending. The Coventry Telegraph began to publish a few updates about our sport. We trialled 4 ‘taster sessions’ in Memorial Park, successfully introducing around 80 people to the game for the first time. And I built a relationship with CSW Sport, the local sports partnership, who ran a Clubmark introduction seminar and public bowls events in Bedworth and Coventry City Centre.

2014 will be about starting to apply this knowledge. Current plans include monthly public taster sessions in Memorial Park, encouraging all clubs to run regular ‘Open Days’, and using the Internet and Social Media to promote these. In addition I plan to buy additional equipment for clubs to use for taster sessions (particularly for youngsters), run further sessions to turn bowlers into coaches, and try to establish regular reporting in the press. Finally, I will help where I can with new initiatives such as starting a Junior league proposed by Roly Clegg at Colliery, and helping identify funding.

But it will work best if we all get involved. If you want to grow your club over the coming years, I need your help.
I particularly need someone to work alongside me, leading on the coaching side of things.
I need clubs who are willing to run regular Open Days and try new things.
And I need plenty of individuals to volunteer to help at public events and provide other skills such as flyer design or writing news articles.
My thanks go to those who got involved in 2013, particularly Dave Chapman and his family, and Standard Club for their assistance at the public events.

I am organising a development meeting for the evening of Monday 3rd March (venue is TBC), to share and discuss more details on development plans. But don’t wait until then, if you have ideas or want to get involved, please get in touch with me on 07886 672087

Thanks for listening.
Onwards and upwards!


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A new movement?

I’m currently working on a new public-facing website (‘Play Crown Green’), and have the @playcrowngreen twitter account operating. Hopefully by early 2014 they’ll both be ready. The intent is a single site and complementary social media to help promote our wonderful game to the public, and attract new players.

In parallel, Andy Dawson, Secretary of Glossop Bowls Club, is working on another site to complement the above – somewhere where Clubs can debate and share knowledge of success (or otherwise) of development ideas and best practice.

I hope clubs will find these of benefit. if you have any ideas, suggestions, or are willing to help, please let me know!