Bowls can be played to a grand old age. But old age is usually accompanied by some stiffening of joints. By and large, it would seem that knee joints are often more affected than others and this could mean that a complete re-appraisal of the delivery action is needed.
It is surprising how often a bowler can help himself by simply bending the knees before the forward stride is attempted. This bending action helps to lower the body nearer to the playing surface and can help to ensure that the bowl is not bumped on delivery.
Some older bowlers find this slight change awkward or uncomfortable, but this is, in the main, a question of adjustment after many years of bowling from a particular stance. Of course it will feel strange but perseverance is necessary.
Some bowlers of an advanced age may feel it necessary to take a long forward stride so that the bowl will travel the required distance along the green. This can mean a bowl being pitched out of the hand instead of being rolled smoothly off the fingers, and can also result in loss of balance, causing the bowler to end his delivery action with one hand on the green to prevent himself falling forward.
Therefore, the length of stride is important and bowlers need to think more about the speed of the arm coming through to deliver the bowl, rather than trying to compensate with a too long forward stride.
Wrists and fingers can often becomes less supple, especially if there is a touch of arthritis. Now could be the time for the bowler to think carefully about the grip that he uses. Some slight alteration may be necessary, especially in the position of the thumb, so that the bowl can be held comfortably and without undue strain.
In some cases, it could be that a smaller set of bowls might help but it would be advisable to consult a bowls coach before making any undue expenditure. Many bowlers in the more elderly category have been helped by good coaches, and encouraged to make some adjustments that will smoother delivery action without unnecessary strain.
Some of the more elderly bowlers tend to make their own re-adjustments. The danger here lies in the fact that there now could occur a multiplicity of changes which can aggravate the original problem, resulting in a less than enjoyable experience when playing a game.
It could be better to consult a good coach, since the ‘eye’ of the coach could identify a difficulty or difficulties at a very early stage and could then offer sound advice that may provide a remedy for the problem. It needs to be said that when the coach has offered good advice, the onus then falls squarely on the bowler to carry it out and work hard, even with minor changes, to accustom himself to these differences. It will not be easy and will demand total concentration and determination.
Some bowlers of more advanced years may realise that their performance in the game is not as good as it used to be. No coach can do anything to remedy increasing age, and it could be more to the point if the bowler himself accepted the truth of the situation. This is not meant to be harsh but realistic, as it would be better if the bowler suited his ambitions in the game to his present performance. Some bowlers, perhaps, do not like the idea of having to surrender a skip position because their game is not what it was, but there are other positions in the rink which they can play and where they can continue to make a positive contribution.
Certainly their experience in the tactics of the game would be valuable and they could find themselves guiding along a younger club member, thereby creating for themselves an even more enjoyable experience.