Team England 2022 Squad – we interview Vicki Harman
How did you get into bowling?
So I first got into bowling when I was 11. As a family we used to go once a week to the bowl at Bexhill. I was terrible, so terrible that my brother with the ramp used to beat me. I would get so frustrated, my Dad saw the frustration, looked up bowling clubs in the area and found Hastings & Bexhill YBC.
Which leagues then tournaments did you start with and who has helped you improve?
All the leagues and tournaments are a bit of a blur if I’m honest. Started off with just YBC, while learning the 4 step approach I knew from that point that I wanted to play for England. As I improved under the YBC, after a while, I was invited to the JETs academy. Playing the South East travelling league. I have been very fortunate over the years with bowling as so many people have given me advise and support!
Was 2018 the best year so far for you with a win on the ESBT tour and getting to wear the national shirt at the European Women’s Championships?
I suppose that depends on your definition of best. If you are referring best as in terms of achievements I would have to say it would have been 2007, where I was selected as part of the Junior United World Games Team and won Silver medal in Singles. However if I defined best in terms of years that gave me the greatest learning, then it would be the 2017 – 2018 season.
During this season: I bowled the Malta Open, making it through to the knockout stage against Barry Foley. I was selected for the ECC with Lee Chatfield, making it through to the 2nd round, I went to Vegas as part of the combined World Championships, Came 1st in the Shipley ESBT, Made the team for EWC for the following year.
Now with many of the things above, I didn’t come anywhere of note and in some cases “failed” spectacularly, but the lessons I learnt from each of those events will stick for me for the rest of my life and they have helped shape my bowling improvements to this point. They are also some of the best moments of my life to date.
* I put “failed” in speech marks because at the time I saw them as a failure and I was disappointed with my performance however when processing those tournaments. I learnt failure is a natural part of success, anyone struggling with coming to terms with failure I would 100% recommend Will Smith’s video on failure.
Making the team again in 2022 will this time mean you are less nervous?
Haha No! I will be wiser in fact I’ll know what to expect but I will always be nervous representing England. I personally think nerves are a healthy thing, they tell me that the tournament means something to me. The key though is harnessing them to help you rather than letting them overcome you, which is where the mental game work comes in.
Pandemic and suddenly we cannot do much due to lock downs and centres closing, how did you deal with the downtime?
Well like most people, we were avid ramblers trying to take advantage of being able to actually hear nature. Worked on my creativity by starting a project to make a terrarium (as I wanted an indoor waterfall without the insurance impacts, haha) and also got quite into gaming (spent many an hour making an Viking-esq base).
The level needed nowadays to medal at championships have raised each era. What preparations will you go into your game between now and the delayed EWC to be in tip top condition and ready to try?
I will be trying to tackle it from 3 fronts:
1) The bowling itself: This is the part which will mostly be done when at the bowl, in each week practice plan will include aspects of; Foundations training (approach drills, sparing, accuracy shooting), ball motion recognition and ball manipulation techniques (yes I know this essentially says I’m working on bowling – foundations will have the most time spent on it as it’s not possible to cover everything in 6 months and from firm foundations it is easier to build on top).
2) The mental side: Following various championships and Specto visits, the mental game (or thought processes at least, as there are so many aspects of the mental game) was highlighted as a big opportunity area for me to improve in.
3) The physical side: In bowling we often neglect the impact bowling has on our bodies, I will be focusing on stretching and conditioning for my physical preparation for the championships. The plan is that this will work in combination with the drills to ensure strength and balance through the shot.
When not on the lanes, what do you do for a career and outside of the sport what are your interests?
I’m a Business Analyst for AXA Insurance, it’s always difficult to explain what I do but if I had to boil it down to the bare bones, gather requirements, manage stakeholders, facilitate many meetings – love a good spreadsheet!
Other interests outside of bowling include: Ultimate frisbee (if you’ve not come across it definitely would recommend watching some videos on youtube – It’s incredible), climbing and gaming.
A proven winner in singles and comfortable in the team environment, which do you prefer?
Team, 100%! Training together in preparation for the event, working through the tough times together, your all pulling for each other, learning how to work with each other. It is no longer about you as an individual, it’s all about the team, about the goal! Nothing can beat that feeling when you succeed as a team!
Fitness, matching up and the mental game have become big parts of a successful bowler. Do you have any gym work and other training?
So I do a lot of stretching, foam rolling and am starting to do hot yoga (yoga in a hot room) to help reduce any potential injuries. In order to help out with the mental side of things I’m doing some meditation. The next step will be to build in some strength work however I have neglected it so far as it’s a matter of how do I fit it in to my working day.
Which bowlers impress you and if you could play doubles with anyone who would it be?
This is a really difficult one as I could list so many people that impress me bowling wise and I would be doing some people an injustice if I weren’t to mention.
Playing doubles with anyone, well I’ve never been someone to get hung up on bowling pros – don’t get me wrong I appreciate the bowling they do and the passion they have for the sport but for me I like having a laugh and cheer with when I bowl so probably Hadley Morgan (the guy does make me chuckle) or Steve Jeeves (that guy is just so chilled).
Team England will bowl on String machines in 2022, have you played on them much?
I have played on them a few times, Heathrow is my closest. I don’t get a huge amount of flying messengers so I don’t necessarily see large amounts of difference between free fall and strings. You do get some luck with sometimes the string taking out an extra pin or two (And if it’s blatant that a pin has just fallen over due to strings then I do get them respotted). The lanes and how they are looked after are my biggest concern.
What goals do you have in the sport?
I dream of getting a championships medal and getting a 300 (which I feel is what this question is really asking). In terms of goals they are specific to the tournaments that I have coming up and should follow the SMART principle.
Who plays you in your Hollywood life story?
Dwayne Johnson, for a few reasons:
1) seeing him in a skort bowling would be hilarious (and lets face it my Hollywood story would be a comedy)
2) we’re probably a similar level of daintiness.
3) if anyone was to pull it off, he would.
Thank you Vicki!
We have invited all of the Adult Team England squad for 2022 to tell us a little more about themselves, and will publish them all weekly. You can read all of our athlete’s interviews on the Athlete Interviews page here..