Leader.  Captain.  Chief.  Skip

Whatever you call them they are the head of your team.  These are the players who should have all the skills associated with bowls and should understand the game and the team the best.  This player should be able to control the game, control the players and control themselves.

For some reason, an obscure one to my way of thinking, nearly all bowlers hanker after the Skips job.  Perhaps it bolsters up their pride to think they are at the top of a four.  By the greatest stretch of imagination the majority certainly cannot credit themselves with possessing the playing ability for the position, nor can they under any circumstance fondly imagine they have the temperament for the job” — Fred Rowley

The skip needs to embody three main roles as they play:

Player — Leader — Tactician

These three roles are what make up a good skip.  It’s not the fact they can drive a head 90% of the time, it’s not that they have won 100 trophies and it also doesn’t mean they are the best bowler on the team.

As a player the skip must (repeat MUST) possess all the shots in a game — Draw, Drive, Block and weighted shots — and be able to play them on both hands.  They may not have the best of any of those shots on the team, but it comes down to how they play it and when they need to play it.  A Skip is always under the most pressure and often finds themselves needing to make a shot to save an end.  The ability to play under pressure and possibly shine where the team has failed is a key part to being a skip.  They need to be able to take the hits and misses and roll with the punches.

As a tactician they need to be able to read a head and make decisions, but also realize that no two people will always read the head the same way.  They need to understand the angles, understand the risks and then make an educated decision based on all that information.  The skip is the king of the game plan and should have a firm grasp on all the requirements needed to win the game.  This includes such repeated statements as:  Have two bowls in the head, don’t build up a big head, don’t drive with only one bowl in the head, try to keep lost ends to two or less, never persist at a losing length, etc.  We have all heard these things time and again, but it’s the players who take in the information and use it and who realize the tactical parts of the game that will win.

As a leader the Skip should be the champion of the team.  What I mean is that they take pride in the game and the team.  They encourage their players, they keep up the team spirit and are the ones who take the bullet if the team falls.  They are the ones making the decisions and the ones that need the broad shoulders to take on the bad days and the bad games and soldier on.  They must keep the team informed of all choices they make and refrain from giving off any bad body language.

The Skip is never focused on one area and as a result must be good at multi-tasking and at understanding all facets of the game.  If a skip can master all three of these parts of the job, then the team has an advantage over many other teams playing today.  It’s easier to be good at one part of the job, but the champion skips will encompass everything.

— Parts taken and paraphrased from Evan Tanzer’s article for the Corinda Bowls Club


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