Like any sport, when playing bowls, there are tactics. What sort of shot you want/need to play. Using the green to your benefit if there is a strong breeze or the green is wet or whatever. Tactics are a natural part of the game. Should you deliver a block etc.

However, I have discovered that people use other tactics for their own benefit. It may be constant chatter. It might be joking remarks…with the tactic that many a true word is spoken in jest. This is when focus (see my last blog) and ear muffs are best used.

I always play for the family farm. My aim is to enjoy the game but to always make an effort to play it right…just in case Mum is watching on from heaven/Valhalla/another dimension or as that bird on the fence. (And, unfortunately, Dad always said if I couldn’t do something well then don’t do it…a traumatic statement to remember when I was just beginning to bowl).When playing an important game such as a championship I don’t like distraction which is why I am writing about tactics and a recent experience or two.

The first experience in this particular tournament went like this…the person I played against wasn’t going to make the podium and at this point I was in a good position for a good result. My opponent knew this and made remarks that intimated she would not play to the best of her ability. For me, that was a distraction. I wanted her to play the best she could – I certainly didn’t want a win I hadn’t earned. The only thing I could do was to play my very best and ignore the comments because a curious thing was happening. The opposition would send up a bowl and it might stop on the jack. Then the following comment would be heard – “Oops. Sorry. I didn’t mean to do that” or “I don’t know how that happened.” Tactics! The aim was to win…and I don’t just mean me!

But the next experience was an eye-opener.

Everyone was hurrying inside for a quick cuppa before the final game. I passed my next opponent who was sitting under a shady tree quietly eating an apple.

‘Won’t be long,’ I said, ‘I’m just going in for a cup of tea.’

‘I’m all tea-ed out,’ came the reply. ‘I’m just waiting for everyone to leave so I can have a good fart.’

I stumbled. Sort of smiled. And raced indoors to find a much needed cuppa. Over my tea I related the situation to one of my female team mates. She burst out laughing and pointed across the table. ‘That will be his last opposition.’

He was laughing. ‘True,’ he said. ‘Farted like a draught horse for almost every shot.’

I was mortified. God, the Queen and I don’t deal well with these situations. My own mother never did stuff like that…and I take after my mother.

Eventually, reluctantly, I went out to play the final round. I didn’t win the mat and, just as I feared, the first delivery made by my opponent was not just a bowl. Heat and discomfort climbed up my neck and burnt my cheeks. I hesitated, bowl in hand, furiously polishing it so I didn’t have to make eye contact and wondered how to best deal with this. Ignore it? Comment? Joke? Not easy when I am mortified and worried about whether I should breathe.

‘Is it safe for me to step on the

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