Almanac Bowls: ‘Hawthorn, manufactured to win’

Well, 2015 and they have done it again.

Hawks win premiership one, two, three.

Perhaps Turnbull, Malcolm to his friends in the ‘Abbey’, could ask Hawthorn to register as an organization for listing in the manufacturing industry. No shortage of company vacancies in that industry.

Anyway to bowls!

My sport seems to learn very little. Can you believe way back in July (2003) yes twelve years ago, on a particular Saturday on the radio after the AFL football game Jade Rawlings, the Hawthorn player who starred that day in 2003, remarked on how Hawthorn as a team was now doing support things and how these were tangible signs of team support and cohesion and the results were in some way an outcome of this trust and support for and by all team members.

And this a year pre-Clarko.

What caught my attention then as now was his comment that it did not come naturally to be supportive and this especially in the times when teams, and or players, are struggling for form.

Hence his ‘manufactured now becoming automatic’ comment.

What he said was that Hawthorn spent time on the training track encouraging, guiding and preparing players to demonstrate support in the forms of verbal and body language and though the players did not take to it initially, the training of this (mental) skill made it into an automatic practice as the players not only had to do it (applying the skill) but are starting to see the benefit of the outcome to the spirit and performance of the team where they have won four games in a row.

In bowls there are those who do not understand the value of the contribution of morale-boosting gestures in our team settings. Despite all pleas to common sense and to view how other sports are developing these (skills) the best we have in bowls is an occasional ‘high five’ and even then done while some fellow team bowlers express some disdain for that ‘flair’.

Many of our bowls teams lose games in our respective bowls competitions as much because of the total lack of support provided by other members to a particular player.

Like the Hawthorn side, your team, your club, your coach might have to introduce bowls training sessions within the season that instills into team members the beneficial facets of team support and importantly address, negate or even eliminate the negative (spirit) that occurs also in training which habitually becomes second nature then on the playing (green) field.

For the past decade I have experienced/ witnessed teams where dissatisfaction in performance has been amply displayed on field, or green in bowls. And yet whenever I have introduced training sessions to enhance positive player behavior, as unusual as it is for bowlers, the reaction has been remarkable.

What amazes me is that the club members reacted favourably to the scenarios where I had a few of them do a role play of a good supportive setting and a role play of a deplorable non supportive setting.

So why do we not have more of these demonstrations at the clubs to help reduce and aim to eradicate the bad examples.

The other feature that amazed me was that everyone had experienced and understood the role play setting(s), agreed with what was favourable and unfavourable, yet no one had thought to introduce, or encourage to introduce, a training session that shows what is and what is not an acceptable way of behaving if teams wish to win.

It is common sense or common use of your senses, that is, you and I can see or hear when someone in our team is giving off sheer unadulterated negativity. Worse any opposition worth its salt can hear and see this. So why do we allow one of our team to join the opposition – because that is what happens when we do not intrude to stop a team member (be they lead to skip) being negative during the game, they emotionally have deserted the team and added ‘playing numbers’ to the opposition for the time they remain, or are allowed to remain, in a negative state.

An effective team is one where the members trust one another, each feels part of the team, and there is a group cohesion and effect in what the four of us are trying to do on our rink. And multiply that feeling by four for a pennant competition as four rinks make up a side. For us to be our most effective, the team needs to connect emotionally so the attitudes and behaviour is habitual.

Hawthorn club understood this and like Hawthorn AFL footy club we bowlers can train that way for us poor old humans to learn how to minimise our drop or lapse in emotional support to our team mates.


For news about the Australian Premier League (at Pine Rivers Nov 10-13) CLICK HERE.

The tournament features the Melbourne Roys sponsored by one the Almanac’s sponsors, Blundstone.



About lachlan tighe

long work & voluntary history in sport; ran around many fields and trudged up and down numerous lawn greens as a player; coach lawn bowls with experiences locally & overseas; wrote a book & write columns in bowls magazines, websites;


  1. Hi Lachlan. Welcome to the Almanac. Its great to get an insight into a sport like bowls, which I have only ever watched from afar (besides a few hit and giggle games at birthday parties or Christmas functions). I’m surprised that bowls needs to continually reinforce the team concept. But like every sport I guess it constantly needs reminding about why it exists.

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