2016 Bowls Victoria Member Survey

by Team BV

Thanks to all who responded to Bowls Victoria’s recent member survey. We were overwhelmed by the response and interest in having your say on the sport we all love.
More than 3,000 members responded to the survey.  Some interesting stats and findings to arise from the survey included:
·         60% of current bowlers had their first experience with bowls as a result of family or friends taking them to try the sport
·         68% of current bowlers say the best way to bring new participants into the sport is via Come & Try Days or Barefoot Bowls
·         More than 80% of current bowlers rate Pennant of high or very high importance to them
·         A 50-50 split between keeping Pennant season as is, or making structural changes. Of those wanting changes, most popular suggestions are a shorter season (starts earlier, finishes before Christmas), switching formats from Fours to Triples, or in the case of Metropolitan Pennant, a four-week competition break from Christmas/New Year to Australia Day
·         Those who want Pennant to remain unchanged say the quality of competition, competitive atmosphere, and feeling of being part of a team structure during a season are Pennant’s main points of appeal, and why the format should not be tampered with
·         More than one in three bowlers say the most important function of their Division should be running Pennant
There were also some great suggestions from members for improving our fortnightly e-newsletter Heads Up.
The two most prominent calls were for a regular section focusing on Laws of the Game and rules, and a Coaching Tips section. These are great ideas, and we’ll be looking to implement these features ahead of the new season.

Here is a selection of your comments from the survey:
It is the most important part of bowls
It is the ultimate test of competition. It helps maintain club loyalty. It creates a social environment with peer clubs
It’s the ultimate format and should be the number 1 goal for all bowling clubs to achieve.
Of all the many games and competitions available to bowlers, pennant for me is by far the most important.
It’s the ultimate team sport for bowls in Victoria. Every change to the Pennant format has resulted in a decline in numbers. Why not start looking back to what made bowls so popular in the seventies and eighties?
The high competition together with being able to play for my club against other clubs makes pennant the pinnacle of the bowls season
Pennant is important to maintain the traditions of our sport in Victoria and it’s easy to maintain interest when all our sides are winning. But it’s difficult to convince younger players that a game can take three or more hours and you get to put a bowl down every 10 minutes or so; that doesn’t sound so exciting
It’s the main focus of the season for our club. I like the fact that we play a full season of home and away fixtures. A full proper season pennant helps build club and community camaraderie. A shorter season where bowlers are more focused on tournaments and other competitions will possibly damage individual loyalty to a club.
Bowls is a competitive sport.  It should be a test of skill and endurance.  Pennant satisfies both of these criteria.  The competition enables one club to compete against others in the region and like football and cricket clubs it provides a good opportunity to represent and promote your suburb.
The playing of a very competitive team competition against other metropolitan clubs is extremely important for clubs to retain membership numbers. To remove this opportunity would drive members to golf and other sporting and social activities.
It is the sport’s competition for clubs to play each other; offers a team/side  context for friendships; provides for the competitive spirit to be enjoyed and the opportunity to meet opponents  in the region. It is a different culture to tournaments, region and state events.
Pennant is the lifeblood of bowls in Victoria.  Only improvement would be later start and longer break over Christmas. This may mean reducing length of season to 14 rounds.
In outer regions, many of the pennant bowlers are well over 70 years old, so pennant could be started a little earlier and finished prior to Christmas, thus avoiding the really hot days, mostly well over 30 degrees.
The ability to start the Saturday Pennant Season earlier is now practical and to finish it by the Christmas break.  Then start a New Year separate competition.  The number of older players now in teams means some have to wait till the main hot weather is nearly over to participate again. The present long competition has a flat spot in the Christmas/New Year period due to the number of players who travel and substitutes are required.
I like Pennant but sometimes feel it runs too long (October to February) should be over in two to three months
I find the “Fours” format tedious. Too much time is spent idle. Triples is a much better format and should be encouraged.
Long, boring game. To put down 50 bowls in 5 hours there are a lot better things to be doing in life.
A less rigid format that allows people to come in and out of the competition. Younger people are not getting involved in bowls as the demands of bowls on their other involvements are too intrusive. Bowls clubs will have to change to survive and operate like a 10 pin bowling alley. Open to the public with formal competition open to the most enthusiastic.
The 18-match metro pennant season is way too long, and is a major downer for recruits. Shorter competitions are a must for bowls to progress further into the 21st century because time-poor participants are a factor.
Encouraging the participation of future bowlers earlier is critical to bowls longevity. The current format of 18 weeks plus finals is restrictive as it requires up to 6 months commitment of play. This is a huge put-off for younger bowlers with or without families. BV should also be looking at trialling a night pennant competition for 6 weeks + finals (the other competitions will either adapt or not) where play starts at 7pm and finishes at 9pm to be run after school commences and before Easter.       
(Pennant is) very important, but a shorter season could further encourage commitment.
Pennant cannot be the primary purpose of a bowls club as current trends say the way we do things now cannot be sustained long term. The challenge is to continue to support the traditional pennant concept but look at alternatives to bring people to bowls and then transition them to pennant when it is convenient for their lifestyle.  That said ‘traditional’ pennant must be revised to ensure it does not become our sport’s ‘albatross’ of doom. 

More grass roots information. We are not all champions
It’s an improvement on The Shot magazine.
There is a lack of knowledge regarding basic rules of pennant especially in lower grades. A section each fortnight covering rules of play would be beneficial.
It’s okay.  Maybe a bit more on rules and regulations.  E.g. Drinking  Smoking . Swearing . Some clubs are out of control
During Pennant I think it would help to have a section with weather, rules around cancelling games due to weather, reminders about the odd week where there are two games in one week etc. Stuff for old and new bowlers, so we know you are looking out for us
Seems to be an emphasis on state events and not much on grass roots level
I use to look forward to reading The Shot magazine, coaching and reader questions especially. Perhaps these could be included in Heads Up.
Perhaps on a rotating basis a Regional page, or quarterly Regional news from all regions
Create a readable vehicle with articles based on pennant competition i.e: Weekly premier league summary, division 1 and below summary etc
Good publication, perhaps more on rule tips like The Shot had.
More training tips. And more good news stories how clubs have turned things around. Let’s work together to make bowls grow.