Balanced Approach: A Top Trainer’s Bowls Coaching and Development Tips
“Don’t just think outside the square; expand the square.” That’s the mantra of Accredited Presenter and Assessor for Bowls Victoria, Brian McIntyre, who as a former business analyst believes that achieving the optimal outcome means applying the ‘Manual’ with a strong emphasis on each individual’s variables. “Don’t just think outside the square; expand the square.”
That’s the mantra of Accredited Presenter and Assessor for Bowls Victoria, Brian McIntyre, who as a former business analyst believes that achieving the optimal outcome means applying the ‘Manual’ with a strong emphasis on each individual’s variables.
“When a person delivers a bowl, there are certain ‘constants’ we want everybody to be able to do – retain their balance, stay comfortable, control the bowl, and do it consistently,” Brian explains.
“How they actually go about doing those things will vary from one person to the next depending on their health, fitness, build, ambitions, etc. These factors are known as the ‘variables’, but as long as a player demonstrates the ‘constants’, I don’t believe in messing around trying to change their whole game.”
In fact, Brian tends to steer the conversation away from the problem and towards the long-term solution.
“Unless there is a major technical issue, I let players play the way they feel comfortable and then help them do it better,” he says. “Rather than always trying to fix ‘problems’, which I find to be a rather negative viewpoint, I prefer to focus more on building upon a person’s strengths and subsequently guiding them to become a more complete and accomplished player.”
A modern approach
At the time he started coaching bowls in the 1980s, there wasn’t anything in the coaching manuals to point coaches in such a direction of positive, proactive thinking, so Brian developed his own philosophies from scratch.
But what exactly does the coaching guru mean by ‘expanding the square’?
“If you draw a square, each of the four sides represents an equal and essential element of a bowler’s overall performance: their delivery; their knowledge; their emotions; and their mental application of these components,” he explains.
“For a person to improve, they must make their own square bigger, meaning all four sides must expand at the same rate. Unfortunately, this rarely happens, as many players and coaches focus too heavily on technique (the ‘delivery’ side of the square) and not enough on the overall balance of the player’s game.
“The coach’s job is therefore to ensure all the components are strong and in unison. Is the player’s knowledge of the game appropriate for the grade they’re playing? Have they improved their control over emotional reactions to certain game situations, etc.?”
Coaching the coaches
As an Accredited Presenter and Assessor, Brian is accountable to both Bowls Australia and Bowls Victoria in assisting with the training and development of future generations of Victorian bowls coaches via introductory and club coaching courses – ‘coaching the coaches’, in other words. He regularly talks about the principles, methods and thought processes required for success. It’s an important role in the modern sports coaching landscape, and one the experienced mentor relishes.
“I enjoy working with coaches because they’ve come along to advance their own skills and they generally bring an open mind. They are able to absorb the higher levels of the game then go back to their clubs and pass on their newfound knowledge to the players,” he says.
After delivering these accredited courses, Brian is frequently invited back to the clubs in a private capacity to help set up their coaching systems and continue the valuable lessons. In his ideal world, the squares are always expanding.
Become a coach
Interested in your future as an accredited coach? Find out more information here or contact Bowls Victoria.