Bowls is a simple game

Bowls is a simple game…get more bowls closer to the jack than the opposition and you win!

There are a few ways to achieve this:

  • Draw close to the jack
  • Move the jack closer to your bowls
  • Move your opponents’ bowls

In 95% of these scenarios, a draw shot is played.

Tactically, the team game is utterly fascinating. The harnessing of several individuals talents and temperaments to the pursuit of a shared goal is immensely challenging, and to do it successfully is one of the most rewarding of human activities… 

A good team leaves their skip with options to play to win the end. Any end in which a skip stands on the mat with only 1 bowl close to the jack is a potential loss. How often do we hear those 5 dreaded words “you can do it, Skip”

So to alleviate the pressure on the skips, the preceding players need to get bowls into position.

Between them, leads and seconds should aim to get 2 bowls close to jack and 1 about a two-bowls-width behind the head. As long as you hold at least second shot, the head is very much yours for the taking.

At this stage, the skip has to decide what the third should do: draw shot, draw another shot, attack an opponent’s bowl or play for position behind. I am not a great fan of playing blockers- they have to be perfectly placed to be effective. If they aren’t, then a bowl has been wasted. A covering bowl behind can be within a bowls-width of the ideal place and still be effective. Remember, if you are down, seconds and thirds must not be short!

It is the Skip’s job to direct play and complement their team mates. Call for play on the most reliable hand as often as you can. Know your team mates strengths and weaknesses and call accordingly. Be prepared to accept 1 down to alleviate the risk of going 3 or more down. Be prepared to change the length to keep your opponents on the back foot.

All players in a 4 need to develop trust in, and support for, one another. If the Skip calls you on a shot, trust their judgment and play what has been called with confidence. No skip needs to hear “I can’t play that hand “or “my bowls won’t draw in that far”. Trust the Skip. They are far closer to the head than you and is most unlikely to call you on a shot that you can’t make. In line with this, skips need to be clear and concise with what they want played. “Just draw” is not precise enough.” Play through the head” is not enough. The skip needs to say what weight on what hand with a stated objective, For example, “Play the forehand with a foot of weight to sit out the red bowl. It’s jack high”.

Applaud & acknowledge good bowls as this will boost confidence.

Guide to the Team

Skills and Drills

Please note these are the thoughts and inspirations collated by the author from the articles accredited here as shortcuts, and may not represent the opinions of the GSMBA