Until 1994, I had played bowls for 28 years, represented England indoors, won an Indoor National Title and qualified for the National finals more times than I can remember! I was also a partner in an expanding firm of accountants and after a busy start to 1994; British Isles Championships, World Indoor Pairs Championships and the EIBA finals, the two roles had become mutually exclusive, so I placed the bowls in the attic and embarked on a new chapter in my life.
It was at this point that I started to personally research why and how sports-people become legends. My son, Darren started to play golf and enjoyed a glittering amateur career. However, his movement was always ‘restricted’ and we found no one who could explain why. Following my research in to the human body, I eventually identified, in 2008, that he had a problem with both of his ankles. The problem was ‘rectified’ but the whole of his neural movement program was based on the limited stability and movement which previously existed and been ingrained. By then he was at college in America and when he returned to the UK in December 2012 his entire programming had become confused.
Prior to Darren’s return to the UK, I had compiled ‘Woods and Federer in PPS’ and as we spent a very difficult 2013 creating a whole new neural ‘golf’ program for Darren, Darren edited ‘Playgolf in ‘PPS’ and helped me write ‘Playbowls in PPS’. Both of these programs are based on how the brain would train and play these sports in the perfect subconscious, i.e. how Tiger and Roger were able to do what they did.
At the end of 2013, Darren made an unsuccessful attempt to make in onto the PGA Tour, decided to stop playing professionally, opting for a family life and moved to America to marry Rachel.
When I returned to bowls in 2013, I was amazed that no one had realised why the level 1 coaching program which has been in use for over 30 years needed to be completely re-written. Darren and I presented elements of the program to Andy Thomson and in October 2013 the BDA paid me to provide an insight into my program and the flaws within the level 1 coaching program which had been in use for over 30 years.
From her connections to the BDA, I started to coach Maddie McConomy and in April 2014 she wrote to a letter ‘Can we stop the sport of bowls from dying’ to the attendees of the Bowls England Conference, but, disappointingly I was left to work independently.
The summer passed and nothing changed, so, in September 2014, I decided to start playing competitively and practice performing the sport of bowls. The first season (2014/15) was a success; Worthing Pavilion IBC Singles Champion and my other ‘successes’ included losing the Planet Bowls Spalding Open Singles final to Nicky Brett.
In 2015, I continued to coach a small number of pupils and was delighted to work with Gary R Smith at Peterborough IBC over the summer of 2015 and to see him go on to win the Open Singles Circuit Order of Merit in 2015/16. After seeing the improvement in Steve Roberts’ game, I was approached by World Series Bowls and was planning to introduce the ‘Playbowls in PPS’ program within their TV coverage.
In 2015/16, I reached the last 32 of the EIBA singles and the semi final of the EIBA Champion of Champions losing to Greg Harlow.
In 2016/17 I was delighted to return to the International arena and represent England in the Over 50’s Home Internationals.
I have proved that I am the coach who can play and not just a player who decides to coach.
In late April 2016 although I knew bowls needed ‘Playbowls in PPS’ to regenerate, I was unemployed and could no longer afford to invest my time and spend further significant sums of money trying to get recognition for the ‘Playbowls in PPS’ program. Then, as fate would have it, Charles Wright (Sussex Middleton Cup Manager) attended what would have been the final ‘Playbowls in PPS’ 2 day course. His reaction over that weekend was stunning and with an immense amount of humility (the other attendees were players he had taught!), he accepted and understood why he needed to change the coaching beliefs he had held for 26 years. His subsequent encouragement for me to continue coaching in the interest of bowls, the investment of his time to promote the program, organise venues and also develop the website means that bowls still has a chance to use ‘Playbowls in PPS’ to regenerate.
In recent months new ‘Playbowls in PPS’ pupils have included Perry Martin, Sandy Hazell, Chris Young and Darren Griffith and we have been delighted to receive such a large number of enquiries about our 2 and 4 day course and about the whole program. So, thanks to Charles Wright’s intervention, at the end of the 2016/17 season I will continue to concentrate on coaching.
I would also like to thank Maddie McConomy who has been a constant source of support to me over the last three years. She has shared my frustrations as doors have opened and then been closed and having stepped away from the BDA, Charles and I are delighted to have Maddie join the PBPC as our Kent representative.
Players and clubs do have the chance to reverse the decline in participation within our wonderful sport, but to do this they all need to get behind ‘Playbowls in PPS’.
I hope to see you soon.
Keith Renwick - January 2017