For the past two months, national bowling coach Remy Ong has been turning the heat up on his bowlers at the Orchid Country Club (OCC).
During training, the 36-year-old former world champion would intentionally disrupt their flow.
For instance, if they were doing well on a particular lane, he would shut it down suddenly and move them to a fresh one.
Ong said: "I need to prepare them for the unexpected... to create environments and situations that would make them uncomfortable in training, so that they would be able to handle them in competition.
"They can call me a coach from hell, or the devil, but I don't need them to like me - it is more important for us to achieve our goals."
High on their priority list will be medals at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games bowling competition at the OCC bowling centre from June 9 to 14.
However, Ong would not be drawn into predicting a medal haul.
The two-time SEA Games champion said: "I have always been a very competitive person. Even in coaching, I don't like to lose. I would like to grab everything out there (at the SEA Games).
"But, in bowling, some things you cannot control.
"In swimming or running, you cannot beat someone whose personal best is better than yours unless you go faster.
"In bowling, everyone's personal best is 300, and sometimes you can bowl a 299 and lose to someone with a perfect score. I've experienced that a few times in my career."
The itch to take to the lanes himself remains. But Ong has been kept busy enough though, preparing the 16-strong squad for the SEA Games since the Incheon Asian Games last September.
He said: "You can call us kiasu (afraid to lose), but we always prepare ourselves way before a competition.
"We don't leave anything to chance."
That drive to succeed is why Ong and the team have been working endlessly at the 36-lane OCC for the past two months, studying how the oil on the lanes breaks down, which in turn affects the curvature of the ball's path.
Home-ground advantage is not a given, Ong said, and he was being dead serious.
After all, Malaysians have won three of four major titles at the past two Singapore Opens at the same venue.
Sin Li Jane won the Women's Open title in 2013 and 2014, while Adrian Ang took home the Men's Open crown in 2013.
Sin also won the Singapore Open at the OCC in 2010.
Singaporean Vincent Lim, who won the Men's Open title last year, did not make it to this SEA Games squad.
When the competition rolls off, the Malaysians are again expected to be the main challengers to the Singapore women's team for the five gold medals on offer.
The men's team, though, are still an ongoing project for Ong, given their youth and lack of experience.
Bowlers such as Javier Tan and Joel Tan are just 19, while Keith Saw and Muhmmad Jaris Goh are only 20.
Ong said: "The bowlers in the men's team are still boys, but they are trying very hard.
"At youth level, we are doing very well, but they need to make that next step up, which doesn't happen overnight.
"Some of Singapore's rivals who are coming for the SEA Games were my fellow competitors during my playing days, and that's the advantage they will have over our team.
"We may have a young team, but give them a few more years, they will do well."
This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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