2006 our Wicks newsletter has had a Coach's Corner article each
month, mostly written by our chief club coach John Hickson - in
fact, all written by John unless another author is specified. His
hints and suggestions never go out of date, so they are all reproduced
here to help each of us become better bowlers. Newcomers in particular
are encouraged to read them all.
Basics of Bowling. One PDF page with diagram. See also
For the complete
laws of bowls, please see www.uslawnbowls.com.
Note that many
of these articles refer to etiquette - as opposed to laws - of the
game. But it is an important component too in order to ensure a
smooth and pleasant game for all.
Step up to
the Mat -
- Once on the
mat, look at your Skip/Director for guidance or information about
- Stay on the
mat and follow the path of your bowl until it comes to rest. You
can learn something from every delivery - line, length, the amount
of draw and any irregularities on the rink that day.
- Once your
bowl has stopped, you must relinquish the mat to the opposition
and no further discussion can take place with your skip until
you next are back on the mat.
- When back
on the mat, look at your skip to see if he/she has any specific
directions to give you regarding your next delivery, then proceed
- Apr 2006
deliver a bowl that comes to rest on or near your rink's boundary
line, it is your responsibility (or another member of your team
who is at the same end) to check to see if it is In or Out of the
rink. To do this, stand on the bank behind the center of the white
marker. Look directly towards the corresponding white marker at
the other end. Then signal clearly to let your skip know if this
bowl is in or out.
is often overlooked, leaving the skip shouting and waiving at the
owner of the errant shot! Sometimes none of the players at the mat
end seem to know what the skip wants. Please, if you do roll a marginal
shot, go straight to the rinks (the lane you are in) marker and
communicate with your skip.
A bowl is not
considered outside the line unless it is entirely clear of the line.
(Like tennis and soccer, on the line is in). If in doubt, ask your
opponent to check too.
- May 2006
to be a lot of confusion about what to do when a bowl from an adjoining
rink crosses into your rink. What should you do? The number one
rule to remember is that you are responsible for everything that
takes place on your rink. So, if any bowl from an adjoining rink
comes into your rink, someone in the head must take action if the
bowl is likely to collide with any of your bowls.
- If the bowl
is clearly a wrong bias, then stop it.
- If it is
the correct bias and is only likely to hit one of your bowls before
returning to its own rink, you should lift your bowl to allow
the neutral bowl to pass. Then replace your bowl in its original
- If the bowl
entering your rink is likely to disturb a number of your bowls
or the jack, then you must stop the bowl.
- June 2006
The most important
thing to remember is that only a bowl, which, in its original course
on the green, touches the jack, shall be be called a "toucher".
If, after coming to rest, a bowl falls over and touches the jack,
it is also a toucher provided the next succeeding bowl has not been
delivered or, in the case of the last bowl of an end, before 30
seconds has elapsed.
A toucher shall be clearly marked with chalk immediately or before
the next succeeding bowl comes to rest. All chalk marks shall be
removed before the bowl is played again.
the jack is in the ditch, no further bowls can become touchers.
Players should be therefore be ready to stop a bowl that is about
to enter the ditch so that it does not move the jack.
- January 2007
part of a lead's job is not only to roll the jack, but to center
it too. With proper signals this can assist the skip in centering
it quickly and help keep the game flowing. Please try and follow
the directions below so we get uniformity into our signaling that
- Stand in
the middle of the mat.
Always signal with your hands (not just a finger) help up at a
vertical position at about shoulder height.
- Hold your
hands either to the left or right side of your body - it is not
always easy to see them if held in front of your body.
- Hold your
hands to the side of your body that the skip needs to move the
jack, and with your hands apart by the appropriate amount the
jack needs to be moved. Once the skip has seen your signal, lower
your hands until the jack has been moved.
- Signal again
in the same way, indicating the distance the jack needs to be
moved. Again, lower your hands once the skip has seen the signal
so he/she is only acting on one signal.
by then the jack is almost centered and so you only need to signal
a turn or half turn of the jack by rotating one hand and wrist
in the appropriate direction.
- Once the
jack is aligned properly,drop one hand down vertically in front
of you to let the skip know it is now centered.
the Experts -
- Here are
some comments from champion bowlers:
- Every person
from lead to skip is of equal importance. No matter how good the
skip might be, he/she is dependent on the abilities of his other
is impossible without a smooth delivery.
- The fingers
should be even spaced with the middle finger on the center of
- As the lead
goes, so the the game goes, is very often true. So remember, the
lead's job is to consistently "draw", that is attempt
to deliver a bowl as close to the jack as possible. Always attempt
to be "up" or beyond the jack. One on the jack and a
couple to the back (about 18 inches) is ideal.
- One in the
back is worth ten in the way.
- Too many
players look at the jack, rather than a definite point of aim.
Look and aim at the line along which you want the bowl to travel.
I have been
asked a number of times which team should do the measuring. There
is no rule stating who should have that responsibility. However,
it is suggested that the team conceding shots should measure and
remove shot(s) when the count is clearly more than one shot. I endorse
whichever team measures, the other team can ask to measure again
if they think it is very close. Before signaling to the skips, the
measurer and opponent must agree on the number of shots scored.
Laws for 2007 - May 2007
There are a
number of changes in the international laws of bowls which come
into force on April 2007.
Here are two
to get you started:
If the jack or bowl accidentally slips from a player's hand during
delivery, the player can pick it up and start the delivery again.
(Previously this was counted as the delivery).
on the mat. Before delivery a player should be standing on the
mat with one foot fully on the mat. At the moment they deliver the
jack or bowl, the player should have all or part of one foot on
or above the mat. (Previously the whole foot had to be on or over
for Leads and Vices - August 2007
- Always carry
a small towel. It is not only good for drying/cleaning bowls,
but should also be used when measuring for more than one point.
Lay the towel on the ground and place each scoring bowl onto the
towel. This avoids confusion and ensures that a bowl set aside
is not accidentally measured again. Get into the habit of doing
this all the time, not only in tournaments.
- Whoever is
responsible for raking should not start moving the bowls until
after the measurer and their opponent have agreed on the score.
This avoids the risk of bowl (that might have to be measured)
being moved prematurely, and also allows the measurer to work
- September 2007 by Terry Hogan
From the book
Fundamentals of Lawn Bowls by Albert Newton:
A lead should
play up and down on the same side of the green as much as possible
as very few greens have the same pace on both sides. By playing
backhand one way and forehand the other, the lead is able to keep
a more consistent length than, say, playing backhand both ways and
thus using two sides of the green.
Crowd the Head - October 2007
only the two vices should be standing behind the head. The leads
should be at the back of the green. When skip A is on the mat, then
the vice for team A should be in the head to communicate with the
skip. Once the skip's bowl comes to rest, skip B takes over the
mat and vice B takes over the head.
Only one vice
should actually be in the head at any given time until the end is
completed. Then both will agree the score - after measuring if necessary.
Normally the team conceding the end would do the measuring. In a
pairs game the same rules apply only it is the leads alternating
in the head.
A bit of
etiquette: Please remember that to play well you need to concentrate.
By all means be sociable on the green, but don't talk continuously
and distract other bowlers. Cell phones are also a distraction.
Please keep them off the green and preferably turned off while you
Bowls - November 2007
How many times
do your bowls seem to end up narrow? Too often for many, especially
new bowlers. This usually happens because you are over anxious to
see where your bowl is going, so you look up towards the jack before
your bowl is fully rolling along your aim line. This causes your
arm to pull across your body in the direction of the target, and
the bowl will almost always finish narrow!
The remedy is
to consciously keep your head down and your eyes on the chosen delivery
line for a few extra seconds before you look up. I am sure you will
be pleased with the results if you follow this single tip.
- January 2008
Here are a few
tips for new bowlers and maybe some experienced ones too:
of Players - within their own rink:
- Players at
the mat end of the rink who are not delivering a bowl should stand
at least 1 meter or 3 to 4 feet behind the mat.
- Players at
the head end of the rink who are not controlling play should stand:
the jack and away from the head - about 2 meters or 6 feet.
- On the
surround of the green if the jack is in the ditch.
of Players - in relation to a neighboring rink:
- A player
should not go into a neighboring rink at any time when play is
- As long as
any player still has a bowl to deliver all the other players should
remain behind the mat. Any player who chooses to change ends before
that, must walk around the green or down an unused rink, as long
as it is at least tow rinks away on either side. You cannot walk
down an adjacent rink as this can be a distraction to the bowlers
on the mat.
of Players - walking down the green:
walk down your own rink always go down the middle. This avoids walking
along the bowling lines.
for Skips - March 2008
Here are a few
tips from a top professional New Zealand bowler for all skips to
note (yours truly included). Peter Bellis says, however good skips
are, they should regard themselves as being on a permanent learning
curve along with every other player. A good skip should be a statesman
as well as an expert shot maker. Confident, respectful of team members,
supportive, and a good communicator! The skip doesn't put up with
negative talk or unconstructive crticism and is guilty of neither.
A skip generally
gets the kudus when the team wins, so be sure to spread the credit
around to other players. If the team loses, however, the skip should
take full responsibility, regardless of the other team members'
performance. To be a skipis a privilegel show confidence in your
team through your bearing and body language.
Oh, to have
all those good qualities! We all have our faults, and this is a
reminder to work on correcting them. Other team members will appreciate
the Way - April 2008
a good Lead is the most important player on the rink, so remember
that whenever you are on teh green. A Lead needs to be a skilled
draw bowler with the ability to put his/her bolws near and preferably
behind the Jack (18 inches to 2 feet is ideal. [Ed: Check with your
Skip, some prefer the bowls in front].
too that Leads should never change hands unless asked to by their
Skip. You can, of course, change hands on the next end, and it is
often beneficial to bowl on the forehand in one direction and on
the backhand in the opposite direction - as then you are using the
same side of the rink all the time.
The Skip looks
to the Lead to build a good foundation, so don't be intimidated
if the opposing Lead is outbowling you. Stay concentrated on getting
your bowls as close to the jack as possivle and this will give your
team a chance regardless. A Lead must also learn to be an expert
at delivering the Jack to the length the Skip thinks is most suitable.
A final reminde: "One bowl behind the Jack is worth ten in
of the Team
- May 2008
In the last
few months, we have discussed the roles of the Skip and the Lead.
Now it's the turn of the Second or Vice. (the official term is Second).
The Second will
aim to put his/her bowls close to the jack of the lead has not done
so. Otherwise, he/she will follow the Skip's advice and provide
positional bowls and/or draw to an imaginary jack. The Second should
leave the head in good shape with bowls around the jack, back bowls
and position bowls. Occasionally a Second may even be asked to break
up a head with a drive. The objective is to give the Skip evey chance
to complete the end successfully.
When the Skip
is on the mat, the Second should only offer advice to the Skip when
asked or when the head has altered. Too often a Second fails to
advise the Skip when there is a change in the head i.e. from being
one up to one down. The Skip must be made aware of any changes as
this will influence his/her choice of shot.
A Second must
be good at reading the head and giving advice if necessary. Finally,
a Second must be a good communicator and give clear signals at all
times. Now you can see that a good Second is the heart of the team.
of the Rink - July 2008
the rink belongs to the player or team whose bowl is being played.
As soon as that bowl comes to rest, possession of the rink will
transfer to the opposing team (after allowing time to mark a toucher
once it has come to rest). All your team players must come out of
the head and your bowler must leave the mat.
are not controlling play (from either team) should stand (a) behind
the jack and away from the head or (b) on the surrounds of the green
if the jack is in the ditch. Players at the mat end of the rink
who are not delivering a bowl should stand at least 1yard behind
players at the head end should remain still and quiet when a player
is on the mat and should not block either the center marker or the
boundary markers from the bowlers view. Equally, players behind
the mat should remain still and quiet once a bowler is on the mat.
can go back into the head when your team's player next has possession
of the mat. But there should only be one player actually in the
head at one time until the end is completed or there is a dispute
that requires the two teams to confer.
it right - Aug 2008
For a change,
how about looking at a couple of rules that we all need to know
and follow when delivering the jack.
to see whether a jack has been delivered the legal minimum distance,
it must be centered first and then checked to see if the whole of
the jack is at least 23 meters from the front of the mat.
If the jack,
in its normal course comes to rest less that 2 meters from the ditch,
it should be placed on the center line of the of the rink, with
the furthest point of the jack being at the 2 meter mark from the
Finally, a good
sportsmanship reminder for all skips. Remember that the player(s)
on your team are doing their best, and that you, as a skip, are
not always perfect yourself!
Delivery Line - Nov 2009
is a tip for finding the right delivery line. It will also help
you adjust your line as the speed of the green changes. When you
chose an aiming point and make your first delivery, look for the
widest point of the arc (the “crown”) and note where your bowl finishes.
The distance between the point of the crown perpendicular to a point
on a direct line from the mat to your bowl is your draw (diagram
In this case,
you can see that if you aim your next delivery at your first bowl,
you will end up very near the center line (diagram 2). Now you only
need to adjust the weight to bowl to the target. As the condition
of the green changes, whether it gets slower or faster, your draw
monitor your draw so that you will be able to make the proper adjustments
to your delivery.