The 4 Steps To Success in Lawn Bowls were written by Stephen Forrest as a series of 4 books, each designed as a standalone introduction to different aspects of player development in the sport.
The concepts used for the 4 Steps program are not new or unique in the world of sport generally or in lawn bowling specifically. Indeed, structured systems are now used by most national elite teams for technical skills development, mental skills and fitness programs.
The STROBE Structured Practice system was first built and delivered in Victoria, BC in 1993 under the title, ‘Structured Practice” in a seminar entitled “Skills Development”. The system was further developed with the help of the students in various STROBE Sports seminars and with input from other coaches.
Once Dr. David Scott, Sport Psychologist working with the Bowls Canada National Team for 15 years, introduced me to the mental disciplines of personal goal- setting, my seminar preparation set me thinking how to make the long hours of practice more interesting and more productive. The end result is the incorporation of the Goals elements of the system.
Structured Practice describes a standard set of practice exercises in diagram form, each with a descriptive dialogue that applies a graduated numerical scoring system for every bowl delivered in each exercise. That principle is found in many similar practice systems and methods.
Where the 4 STEPS TECHNICAL SKILLS method is unique is that the scoring for all bowls is graduated based on a valuation of usefulness of bowls in a game situation. Lawn bowls as a game is not merely about the distance that bowls finish from a target, usually the Jack. Rather, there is more value to a bowl placed early in an end for a bowl finishing past the Jack than one ending short of the target. Short bowls rarely come into play in a positive sense in a game situation.
The 4 Steps TECHNICAL SKILLS scoring system reflects those game merits by creating a scoring system that encourages and rewards athletes for playing back bowls, penalizes them for short bowls while reserving top scores for achievement of the actual shot skill being challenged in the exercise.