Ian Lines given the Outstanding Service Award for Coaching 2011.
Ian has been a member of Bowdon Croquet Club since 1993 and has progressed quickly within the world of croquet. He is not only an A-Class player but is also a Grade 3 Coach.
Although he works, he spends most of his spare time at the club and is always enthusiastic and willing to help anyone to improve their croquet. Ian helped to run the Beginners’ Course at the club every year for about 15 years, including taking the lead role on a number of occasions. His patience and friendly approach over the 6-week period encourages newcomers to look forward to the following week’s lesson. This is one of the most successful beginners’ courses in the country and often leads to up to about 20 new members each year.
Ian has led C.A. coaching courses at Gold level and below, around the North West of England as part of the NW Federation’s Flying Circus programme of regional coaching. In 2011, despite playing in tournaments most weekends of the year, he still found time to travel to Southport to lead a group of 16 players through a Silver course, assisted by 4 other experienced coaches.
Ian coached and provided individual tuition to a number of players at Bowdon, most significantly in 2011 to the 14 year-old Adam Swinton who went on to win both the North West and National Finals of the All England Handicap Championship. Julie Horsley and Brian Shorney reporting on the CA website, ascribing Adam’s victory to his being “very talented and well-coached”.
During the preceding year, Ian had identified Adam’s potential talent and offered to provide some individual coaching to help him develop as rapidly as possible. Ian spent several evenings after work before the All-England regional final providing a wide range of coaching, concentrating on how to maintain a 4 ball break and take bisques effectively, but also taking Adam through all the mechanics of a triple peel to show that it only requires a little thought and control. Indeed, Adam later went on to perform his first triple peel in a club handicap competition, using most of his bisques in the process. Adam’s father, Jonathan, said: “At the beginning of last year Ian offered unprompted to coach my son and gave generously of his time to do so. Even outside the formal sessions he was always watching Adam play when he could, and offering appropriate feedback, always calmly and quietly and without drama but always authoritative and effective. He took Adam seriously as a player despite his initial handicap. As a direct result Adam won the All England Handicap Championship in Sidmouth last year.
I asked Adam, who has just turned 15, for his comments and they speak for themselves: “Ian gave me a few coaching sessions this season, about a number of topics. He taught me about 3-ball breaks, croquet strokes etc. It definitely helped – from being a 24 for 2½ seasons to going down to 12 was pretty much down to him pointing out what I had done wrong, and helping to improve my game in various aspects. I would say it was down to his giving up some evenings for me to coach me that I managed to win the All England Handicap; I remember in quite a few games doing something differently to how I would have done 6 months ago, purely based on his advice, and it definitely helped me win. Without his coaching, I would probably still be around a 22-24 handicap”.
The development of promising youngsters is vital to the future of croquet, and having relatively young world-class players like Ian providing coaching to potential stars of the future is something that is to be welcomed and encouraged.