New Era for Bowls High Performance Program

Ottawa, Ontario | December 15, 2014

Bowls Canada’s High Performance Committee (HPC) has completed a comprehensive review of the Canadian bowls high performance program.  After extensive consultation and analysis, Bowls Canada is pleased to announce a plan for significant change to the high performance program.  

Led by nationally recognized High Performance Consultant Alan Brahmst, the consultation process of the review was comprehensive.  It involved:

  • Athlete feedback : national team post-event surveys, High Performance Squad interviews, High Performance Squad survey;
  • National Coach feedback and analysis;
  • Technical Leadership interviews: Commonwealth Games team captains and staff (coach, manager, sport psychologist), High Performance Athlete Representatives and members of the High Performance Committee;
  • Analysis of other Canadian national sport programs;
  • Review of selected high performance programs from leading bowls nations.

The HPC identified a goal of long-term success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.  It was widely acknowledged that bowls in Canada does not enjoy the same levels of funding and popularity as other sports in Canada or as compared to bowls in other countries. Additionally, we have the challenge of dealing with a large and diverse geographical setting.  In order to overcome these challenges and make 2018 success a reality, Bowls Canada needs to change the way we do high performance programming.

Two significant changes came out of the review:

  • a new athlete development model and
  • a new technical leadership model.

 1. Athlete Development Model

An analysis of leading bowls nations showed that the norm is for the successful nations to identify a small senior/elite squad and have some type of development squad sitting below to support and nurture talent development. 

Based on all of the analysis presented, including athlete feedback, Bowls Canada will be investing in a smaller, more targeted national squad supported by a development squad and a youth squad. 

The National Squad will be composed of up to 8 men and 8 women.  National teams will be selected from the National Squad.   The smaller squad numbers will allow for more opportunities for the athletes to play together and develop the solid playing relationship required for international success.  The National Squad will be expected to commit to a training and competition program that will be rigorously monitored.  They will be expected to maintain a performance standard.

Directly below the national squad will be a Development Squad of 4 men and 4 women.  The National Squad and Development Squad will be selected using the same criteria at the same time. Should someone need to step off the National Squad, an athlete would be called up from the Development Squad using the same criteria that was applied for the initial selection. 

The National Squad and the Development Squad will run on a two year cycle beginning in 2015.

A Youth Development Squad will be named on the basis of the top four young men and women placing at the Under 25 Championships and the top four Juniors placing at the Junior Championships.   Having athletes named to the Youth Development Squad will benefit our provincial associations when they apply for their annual government funding.  Athletes named to this squad will be eligible for selection to national development events and, should they meet the selection criteria, it would be possible to be elevated to national team status.  The Youth Development Squad will run on an annual basis beginning with the Championships in 2015. 

2. Technical Leadership Model

It is widely accepted that right now and for the foreseeable future, Bowls Canada simply does not have the financial resources to implement a 100% professional model of technical leadership.  It was also recognized that we are still in the early stages of developing a national coaching culture in bowls.  That being said, the requirements on our technical leadership are still the same as for those sports who have a paid full-time staff of multiple coaches.  We need an immediate solution that will cover the requirements over a shared workload so that we can support our national athletes.

To lead the program, Bowls Canada will hire a part-time Performance Director who will be responsible for the planning, monitoring, reporting, analysis, budgeting and communication for the entire High Performance program. 

Once the Performance Director is in place, Bowls Canada will identify two volunteer coaches who would be responsible for technical/tactical analysis and program coordination with the Performance Director.  One coach would work with the Men’s National Squad and the other with the Women’s National Squad.   The final piece of the model is to identify a volunteer Team Manager to coordinate specific logistics for events such as national camps or major competitions. 

This new technical leadership model recognizes that the men’s and women’s programs can have different needs and would benefit from a coaching model that allows more focus with a dedicated coach. The Performance Director’s role will be to ensure we put good process and coordinated practice around our technical leadership approach and build out an appropriate coaching culture for the longer term, including the identification of regional coaches and regional talent development.  Together with the Team Manager, we are striving to implement a strategic and purposeful approach to high performance program management.

Next Steps

The HPC has completed a final review of the selection criteria and are on track for a public call for athlete applications to the National Squad and Development Squad to go out mid December with applications due on January 9, 2015.

A job ad for the Performance Director will be posted on January 5, 2015 and once this individual is in place, the notice for the two coach and one manager positions will be posted.  The Performance Director, Coach and Manager positions will be an open process and available for all interested individuals to apply.

In Appreciation

Bowls Canada wishes to recognize the efforts of Davie Mathie.  He stepped up to the plate in a volunteer capacity to fill the role as national coach when the program found itself without a coach heading into World Bowls in 2012.  Over the last year, he has worked in a more formal relationship and didn’t hesitate when asked to make changes in order to meet the needs of our funding partner Sport Canada.  We are extremely grateful to Davie and all of the work he has implemented through his term as National Team Coach.   “For me, personally, it has been great to work alongside Davie. We have been a good team and mates on and off the green,” says HPC Chair Don Caswell.  “The process that was just completed was exhaustive and demanding of time from the members of the HPC. I would like to thank them for all the time and effort they spent on this important project. Also the professional leadership of Anna Mees and the work of Alan Brahmst were key to making it all happen”

The road ahead will be challenging, but the steps are in place to continue moving not only High Performance programming forward, but the entire sport.  Other sports have proven time and again that international success can be leveraged directly into increased club membership, increased publicity and increased awareness amongst the Canadian public. Bowls Canada President Ian Tyzzer stated “We are confident that these changes will lead to enhanced program success.  We are all excited to initiate these next steps towards a performance based program.”

For more information, please contact:
Anna Mees
Executive Director, Bowls Canada Boulingrin

About Bowls Canada Boulingrin     
Bowls Canada Boulingrin (BCB) is the governing body responsible for lawn bowls in Canada. The BCB mission is to promote, foster and safeguard the sport of outdoor and indoor bowls in all its forms across the country.  BCB is committed to the highest standards for the conduct and development of lawn bowls in Canada. For more details on Bowls Canada Boulingrin and the sport of lawn bowls, visit