‘Sooks, slackers and snipers, hit the road’

Heard what I thought to be a great comment in the above title about disgruntled players in non performing sides, be it football or any sport for that matter.

We bowls bods competing in Melbourne pennant could do well to try and glean the value behind this message.

I recall hearing an AFL coach say ‘…the word is that some of the players think the coach is too hard on them. Well isn’t that sad ? This is a team whose players have won just 7 of their past 38 games. No doubt the coach will sort the sooks out.’

I bet there are many of us who can relate to this in bowls clubs and hope someone is going to have the fortitude to do the sorting.Just from recent experience(s) in club bowls the answer is a big NO.

Regardless of the sport, in the team sense we can view the issue and solution within three areas which I shall comment below with added reference to bowls teams.

Leadership – there are some credentialled players who do little to inspire the troops and deal only with self survival as the priority of most; many a side not doing well has skips who lay blame elsewhere and others in the team who are passive as they are hoping like hell to survive demotion; what we need to find in each of our clubs and teams are people of character; some of the guys / gals too I guess, are damn good players but private and quiet by nature, happy to follow not able to be a leader of the team;or another factor, the skips simply do not possess the leadership and authority skill;

Best 8 –  with 16 in a pennant team, most pennant sides having 4-6 gun players who work at their game, 6-8 middle rung who are smug and satisfied, and 4 fringe bowlers who have to work hard to survive in the team, and, I suggest the middle order/ rung group is as much the problem in our selection as they tend not to be dropped yet they do not strive to improve; I remember reading Leigh Matthews’ take on this, which he gathered from Norm Smith apparently, where the footy team had a similar 3 rungs though both those iconic coaches focussed on the bottom rung as their deficiency, rather than me looking at the middle rung;

Departures – if only bowls teams, at all levels, had the luxury of the football draft and recruitment system (if you call it a luxury) but we bowlers, bowls club, don’t; we contend with the players who rock up to represent the club; there is your answer my fellow bowlers it is the club or team they opt to play for so if your team is a battling team, they sink themselves if there are too many negative players. Why not look to preparing an environment pre season to reduce, minimise or even eradicate the negative nerds who come to play; if they don’t like it so be it, if nothing else the selectors don’t put them in your flagship team / side because that top side is the one setting the standards that others see in your club, no disrespect to other club members diligently playing in lower teams.

Summary – if your club makes the right decisions, and blow me down it is amazing how many agree privately with the right decision, then you can expect your top team at your club to be, if nothing else, filled with enthusiastic, team oriented, committed players that are a blend of ‘why did we not do this before’ veterans and ‘hey this is good stuff’ newcomers or promoted bowlers.

So I wonder if our current Wallabies over in England under their current coach, contending this weekend for World Cup champion status, might have as his final parting comment as ‘…it has to be the coaches way or the highway; any sooks, slackers or snipers should be shown the door’.

If in your particular part of the bowls world where you have the 3 S types, are you showing them the door or simply allowing it to be a revolving door for another season. An interesting question to pose to all of us, bowlers and coaches (of any team sport).

Lachlan Tighe, 28/10/2015

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. Struggled with your argument Lachlan. Does the hard working, striving bowler of modest talent perform better in competition than the more talented but uncommitted? Does effort trump talent at the crunch in lawn bowls (and other sports for that matter?)
    And anyway is winning the main goal in sport? Can’t participation and casual enjoyment be ok? Do we all have to strive, or is a nice day in the sun no longer acceptable when there are competition points on the line?
    Baron de Coubertin would be rolling in his grave.

  2. Terry Towelling says

    My father is a handy club bowler and my brother a very good one, who skipped for a big club in the Sydney Premier League for a fair while. So our family has been immersed in the machinations and politics of bowling clubs for a long time.

    I have never encountered any other institutional atmosphere that match a typical bowling club for politicking and back-biting and square-ups and general intrigue. Anyone who volunteers to be a selector or committee member or to hold any other position of authority in a bowling club deserves a bravery medal, in my opinion.

  3. Terry- as long term veteran of the game (and a cynic to boot) I think your brilliant comments in the second paragraph are the best Ive read. I’m taking it to one of my best mates who in a fit of madness put his hand up for the Presidents job (the Chairman of Selectors will get a copy too ).

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