Player Development Framework - Club Case Study: Gourock Park BC
Last Summer we spoke to members of Gourock Park BC as part of our Return to the Green club story series. The strong community connections, and dedication of coaches to deliver weekly ‘come and try’ sessions had lead to an increase in membership since Covid. Now, in 2022, registered as an open and inclusive Try Bowls Club, we spoke to the club again to hear about how they are continuing to encourage newcomers to try our sport and utilising our new Player Development Framework as a useful coaching tool…
The club has a number of coaches with Bowls Scotland’s Level 1 and Intro to Bowls Coaching Award qualifications, this season some members also attended our new Inclusive Coaching Course which is aimed at allowing coaches to experience and understand coaching all bowlers with a disability. Designed in partnership with Scottish Disability Sport, it provides coaches with the confidence and knowledge to ensure their club is as inclusive as possible.
“The most recent coaching course we attended was the Inclusive Bowls Coaching course. It was a real eye opener. We have a Visually Impaired (VI) internationalist in our club, so it was great to learn more about directing VI bowlers, and the laws around VI bowling.
“We now reckon that thousands of people who are unable to deliver low enough could (still) be bowling if they knew about the equipment available, like the bowls launcher. The online part of the course was very useful too, including coaching participants with learning disabilities. We encourage support workers to bring their clients to our club, as well as a school for pupils with additional support needs.
“It was a total privilege to meet course tutor Ron McArthur. Ron has been very helpful in confirming disability bowling laws. We have shared those within our district and beyond, to help avoid discrimination. Bowling really is a Sport for All!”
Gourock Park were one of the first clubs to sign up for our new Player Development Framework when it launched in July this year. We asked why the club decided to sign up and found out more about how the club have put the digital resource to use…
“We reckoned that a framework developed by Bowls Scotland would be worthwhile using. If it’s good for the High Performance players, it’s good for us!
“When we trialled it, we found it to be very useful. We printed and laminated the sheets and placed them in a folder which is available for everyone to use at the club. We created a grid of bowlers’ names across the top, with subheadings of Bronze, Silver, Gold. The vertical headings are the challenges. We happily shout “tick” when someone achieves the challenge then tick it off. We encourage each other. We record the completion date of each level on the back of the sheet. The Framework is also available digitally to anyone who requests it.
“If we don’t achieve a challenge on that day, we view it as a practise rather than a failure; we like people to be happy when bowling at Gourock Park J. We found that we can easily progress through the framework when players are at different levels, eg Bronze within 1.5m of the jack, Silver within 1m.
“We highly recommend the Framework. It highlights the strengths and areas for improvement for our players. Bowlers can see what hand/shots they need to work on. Our experience is that some of our right-handed beginners don’t like playing the backhand shots. The main improvement here from our coaches has been in the positioning of their feet when delivering the bowl.
“Players, especially new ones, gain confidence by seeing that they’re better than they realised. It also tracks progression – I took several attempts at delivering the jack on Bronze, then watched YouTube videos (which I shared on our Facebook page) and got a tick first time on Silver. A positive attitude also helped! The Framework could also be used by selection committees in the future, to see the levels of new players whom they may not be aware of.”
We asked the committee to tell us more about how the coaching team been involved in welcoming new members to the club again this season…
“Our main focus has been introducing people to bowling. We’ll try everything to get people playing, because we know that when they Try Bowls they’ll enjoy it (even if they didn’t expect to!). We’ve taught hundreds of school pupils this season, primary schools & high school. We find it’s best if the school can visit us, rather than playing on a sloping MUGA!
“We’ve invited societies, volunteer groups & employers to the green for team building Try Bowls sessions, and we had great success taking Target Bowls to a large employer’s Fun Day. We have found that the most successful approach to recruiting a steady stream of new members is by offering a weekly Try Bowls coaching session. John McCartney and Jim Glass have been at our club every Saturday morning to offer a route into bowling for all ages, and every Thursday evening for juniors.
“Another huge success has been thanks to Ian Brown for installing a Crazy Golf course in our grounds. This has brought a steady stream of families & friends through our gates all summer, many of whom have tried bowls and enjoyed the game. Our local newspaper, The Greenock Telegraph, has been extremely supportive of our efforts.
“Having 2 separate greens, we have a huge scope for new members, so we’re about to launch a recruitment campaign, using the Doors Open concept but going a step further. With members’ support, we’re going to open our gates to new bowlers for the whole of September for free. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain, as do the participants. We have various different offerings for new members, so that there’s one or more to suit everyone, eg coaching at Try Bowls, social bowling, wappinschaws. We send new members a Welcome email with this type of information. We have a “Welcome to New Members” wappinschaw so that new members can join in, meet others, and integrate into the club without feeling any pressure to play to a certain standard.”
Do you think the new Framework will be a useful tool for new bowlers as well as your existing members?
“Definitely! We’ve seen a noticeable improvement in the standard of play of new and returning bowlers who have taken part in the Framework. The quizzes are also useful to introduce some of the Laws of the Sport.”
Further information on Bowls Scotland’s Player Development Framework, including the link to sign up to receive the digital resources can be found here.
Thanks to Lorna McCartney and the committee at Gourock Park for their help on this story, keep up the great work! We look forward to hearing how the Doors Open plan goes for September.