For most players the close season is the time when their competitive streak gets hidden away.
Not St Johnstone’s Steven MacLean, who is about to swap the cut and thrust of the Borders bowling league for football’s Europa League.
The Perth striker will be aiming high with Saints when they get started at the end of the month but he has been taking his summer hobby seriously as well.
“The more I’ve been thinking about it, I think I’m going to dedicate myself to it when I finish playing,” he said.
“If I do that then, who knows, I could end up in the Commonwealth Games team somewhere down the line.
“That would be a million miles off at the moment but it could be done, why not?
“Everyone has to start somewhere in every sport.”
MacLean added: “I played a few times last year with my dad and really enjoyed it.
“They’re trying to get the average age of the place down so were on the lookout for new members.
“So I went along with my laddie for a few games and it was great fun.
“So, I’ve gone from probably being the oldest here at St Johnstone then one of the youngest at the club – it’s great!
“I’m not the youngest but I’m certainly in the bottom two or three when it comes to age.
“The only problem with it is the wife is going mental because I’m out all the time, I’ve just nip out for a few games at night.
“I’m not bad at the moment, I’m getting better, and we’ve won a few games.
“We’re top of the Borders League at the moment and I’ve played in the County Triples as well.
“But that was more down to the other boys I played with, I think they carried me a bit for that one.
“That was my summer, I had a week away with the wife then I’ve just been at the bowling club for the rest of it.
“I get bored quite easily so it has been great to have that to keep me occupied when there’s no football on.”
Knee problems have prevented MacLean from playing on artificial pitches in recent seasons but the 34-year-old is happy to report that he’s had no injury issues on the bowling green.
“There’s no problem with the knees,” he said. “It’s all on the left leg anyway.
“I’m not wearing the full whites yet, I’ve got the white polo shirt but I’ve drawn the line at the grey trousers.
“I’ve just been getting by with a pair of grey skinny jeans and a pair of Nike Airs. I don’t like the bowling shoes much so I’m not wearing them.
“There is an image of bowls being an old man’s sport but there are more and more young folk getting into it.
“Murray Davidson used to play when he was younger as well, so he might take it up again sometime too.”
MacLean and his Saints team-mates are in Largs this week as the build-up to the Europa League first qualifying round intensifies.
“We’ve only had three weeks off so you don’t lose that much fitness,” he said.
“This is my 19th pre-season and it is changed days.
“People come back fitter than they ever used to. In the past it was six weeks or two months but now it’s just a few weeks.
“The days of boys coming back a stone overweight and then spewing when they’re doing their running are finished.
“You don’t get that any more. You might get one or two boys who struggle but everyone goes to the gym.
“When you have European games then the incentive is there. You’re straight into competitive matches.
“We feel we let ourselves down in Armenia the last time so we don’t want that to happen again.
“Hopefully we can get a decent draw and take it from there.”
The last time Saints were in Europe flak came their way on the back of an early exit to minnows Alashkert, and MacLean knows that the national spotlight will be on them again.
“I don’t think the criticism after the Alashkert game was harsh because we should have beaten them,” he said.
“When we got them back to Perth we were by far the better side and we should have gone through.
“Losing over there was a sore one but we were far better than them at home.
“So you just have to take the criticism, try to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“At this level, nobody has a divine right to beat anyone – you have to be at your best or you’ll get knocked out.
“But you want to play at the highest level you can. This is what you are in it for and if we get a kind draw who knows how far we can go.”