14 CNSW Gateballers Commit to Improvement

Players from Canberra, Lithgow, Strathfield, Epping, Toronto and Newcastle met at Strathfield for a workshop at which they looked at ways to improve their performance in competitive gateball.

The morning was spent looking at techniques that players could employ to increase the effectiveness of their practice and exploring strategic understandings necessary for higher level play

In the afternoon players used the more advanced skills card available as a download on this website under About Gateball: Tips, Strategy and Coaching . Pairs of players kept a record of where they were unable to complete a succession of skills. This enabled them to focus on areas they need to work at.

The day was supported through CNSW’s Players Pathway to Excellence Program (PPEP). Through this program players are provided with support to enable them to improve their skills and be more successful in competition.

Jamberoo Triples – Reflections from a Newcomer

The full report of the Jamberoo Triples Competition is still being finalised but one player had such a good time she couldn’t wait to comment. Ruth Bridger from Strathfield had this to say.

As a newcomer to gateball competitions, I certainly enjoy seeing so many clubs come together in friendly rivalry. It was a special delight to see and play against the inter-generational team (the Crook family from SA). I wish I had them all in one picture. From the eldest to the youngest of the clan, they were a pleasure to play against.

Geoff and Chris Cook with Peter Freer from Canberra

Geoff and Chris Cook with Peter Freer from the Canberra Mavericks

It was quite something to play gateball at Jamberoo, as it is such a beautiful location, with so many GB lawns prepared beautifully, but the lawns were fast and many borders challenged our skill set! Visitors had all the amenities they needed, and players were well looked after by Jamberoo’s large team of volunteers.

Thanks to all involved, I had a wonderful experience, and hope to return next year. I also thank all those who taught me so much during the weekend.

Ruth Bridger

Congratulations Beryl Holmes, OAM

Beryl Award

The Gateball community wishes to congratulate Beryl Holmes for her Australia Day award of a Medal in the Order of Australia.

Most of us know Beryl as a player in McIlwraith teams, where she has been a member for over 20 years. She has been, and still is, a passionate advocate for our game. She has not been unknown to accost passers-by and encourage them to give Gateball a go. She is always ready with advice and assistance. She is responsible for playing a major role in educating the first member of the current Canberra Gateball Team,when he first walked through Auchenflower and saw the game in action!

Beryl’s award was for services to the community and women’s organisations. She was a founding member of Children by Choice in 1972, served in a number of roles and is a life member. She has counselled women with unwanted pregnancies and has served in a number of prominent women’s advocacy organisations. She has been a long term member of the Queenland Council for Civil Liberties and was a made a life member of that organisation too. Much of her service in these organisations was at a time when the political climate in Queensland would have made her campaigning a challenging task.

Beryl Aus Day

Beryl never rests from her advocacy. She continues to argue that we should use the term ‘mallet sports’ because it is inclusive. Any off hand reference to the ‘Ladies’ at McIlwraith is always addressed. Beryl is the first to try to support those with physical disabilities wishing to continue to play the game.No doubt she is looking forward to a day when at least fifty percent of recipients of the award she obtained are women too. I have no doubt that in some way she has already started campaigning for that!

Caricature – Gilon Smith

At the 2015 Australian Gateball Championship Gateball Australia’s previous National Director, Gilon Smith, was thanked for his contribution to the game and presented with a caricature drawn by Gateball’s Frances Wregg.

Gilon’s steady hand and unruffled manner will be missed in the national role. We will no doubt be calling on his advice and will continue to value his clear and analytic thinking.

The picture shows Gilon taking a swing to the accompaniment of raucous catcalls from some of his Canberra teammates.

Gilon SmithThe Canberra players included in the Caricature “in real life”. Can you guess who is who?image

Gateball Tactics – What have we learned?

Keith McLeod has submitted some valuable observations on tactics from this year’s Australian Championships. Gateball Australia thanks Keith for his comments and asks players to make comments on Keith’s observations. You can do this underneath Keith’s article.

IMG_4457The 2015 Australian Gateball Championship – And Why the Chinese Teams Won!

One good thing about being Tournament Referee is that I had an opportunity to observe many games, although some very briefly.

I noted the Chinese teams’ comfortable progression through the block games with only two losses (well done McIlwraith and NSW Country).  So how is it that these Gateballers are so much better than our teams?  Let me share my thoughts and observations.

Player Skills

Although many Asian players play golf style, the Chinese use centre style but with rather unique features:

  • the stance is with both feet close together and there is no stalking;
  • the head of the stick is usually in contact with at least one shoe; and
  • the stroke is very hammer like with little backswing and minimum follow through.

Using this style, they have developed a high level of Touch accuracy.  Also, this style appears to assist with achieving successful slide touches, but more on this later.

232323232-fp93232-uqcshlukaxroqdfv335-6-nu=4866-333-333-WSNRCG=3757-7364333;nu0mrjTo get precise sparking accuracy, most Chinese players bent low over the set balls with the right foot well back from the set (for right handed players).  This enabled them to sight the set direction accurately.  The overall precision of their sparking contributed significantly to their success.  (Any Aussie Gateballer who has received coaching from me will know I always stress that effective sparking is the secret of Gateball success….and the Chinese certainly proved that).

When attempting a sparking bombard, the direction precision achieved by the low sparking stance certainly pays off.  Successful bombards by the Chinese were the rule and not the exception.

Aussie players seem content to gently stroke an out-ball into the court often with their ball finishing up to 200mm from the line, or to stroke it to an exposed position on the court so that it is easy for the opponent team to attack.  The Chinese made sure that their ball was just on the line and often with part of the ball outside the court thus making good use of the painted court lines.

I saw some exceptional slide touches and a few with the target ball to be touched at least 1m away from the stroker’s ball!!  From my observations, this was one of their key skills.  During a recent practice, I tried slide touches using the Chinese stance (feet close and one shoe used to guide the stick head) and a very short backswing, then a hammer stroke on the stroker’s ball.  It worked well and with some practice, I think I could become more proficient with slide touches using this technique.

Game Strategy and Tactics

Some of the strategies and tactics used with success by the Chinese that I noted were:

  • holdback tactics used every game;
  • often only 1 or 2 balls on the court in the first round;
  • holdback, place a ball at the back of G1, then make G1 and slide touch to G2 (affectionately known by the Aussie teams at the 2010 World Gateball Championship as the ‘Shanghai holdback’);
  • content to win without seeking high scores (note the semi and final scores);
  • Gate and Touch tactic was used often;  I saw some Aussie teams fail to capitalise on Gate and Touch opportunities;
  • a tactic that was new to me was sparking an opponent ball to a team ball to make a subsequent bombard easier; ingenious, however it requires high confidence in sparking depth;
  • using opponent balls instead of sparking them to out-balls; and
  •  using a team ball to bombard a critical opponent ball.

I hope we can all learn from the Chinese and improve our skills and tactics.

Keith McLeod