A few tips to help you get the most out of your time with lawn bowls
Bowls can be frustrating for beginners. A good player can make bowls looks easy.
Here are 7 tips to help develop your game, play better, and enjoy yourself more!
1. Keep things simple
Lawn bowls is a simple game made complicated.
Take advice on your technique and keep doing the same things the same way.
Do what makes you feel comfortable and consistent practice makes 'perfect'.
Each time you deliver a bowl, step onto the same spot on the mat.
Consider the direction you wish to bowl, put your foot on the mat so that it points in that direction. For most bowlers, most of the time, that means your shoulders is square to the direction you wish to bowl and your bowling arm will follow that direction.
This is the most basic shot in the game and will be something you will always rely on. Use the same bias for every end and learn from each bowl. Your brain needs to get used to judging distances, and this is done best with as many constants as possible.
Forget about firing and playing running shots, there will be plenty of time for that later!
4. Get the right equipment
Bowls doesn’t have to be expensive. Getting a good set of second-hand bowls is an excellent way to start.
Bowls rarely deteriorate over time, so you can be confident that a second-hand set will perform just as well as it did when they were manufactured.
Roll the jack to a weight that is comfortable for you. This will help with your confidence and your consistency. It’s very difficult to develop a good technique when you are trying to force extra weight - or trying hard to remove it. A consistent weight will develop your “feel” for the game.
If you do find yourself struggling to adjust to a weight, try one shot at a comfortable weight FOR YOU. This will then act as a reference point to adjust for your next shot.
The foundation of a good bowls technique is based on line control. Focus on this more than anything else at first. This ties in with the “Play to a comfortable weight” point above. If you are bowling to a comfortable weight, you provide more mental space for your line control. Line control will aide your weight control in the future, so be sure to nail it as soon as possible.
7. Set realistic goals
Lawn bowlers are perfectionists. A bowler will draw 2 feet from the jack, and they will try to “correct” the weight, leading them to overcompensate and finish 6 feet way with the second shot.
Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that you aren’t at an elite level, and aiming to be within 3 feet of the jack is always a good result. Bowl enough shots in that area and good things will happen.
There’s an exception—on wonky rinks or when there’s no other way around an obstacle, you can stretch one foot out to the side while keeping the other on the mat. Some bowlers perfect this style of delivery, but it usually throws your aim or weight out of whack.
After you pivot slightly on the mat so your feet are oriented towards your aiming point, keep your shoulders square to that line as you swing. This helps you develop a smooth pendulum swing without crossing your arm in front of your torso.
A square stance works for most people, but if you have wide hips that force your swing out to the side, try positioning your body more like an archer’s, one foot a little in front of the other and shoulders angled slightly. Suddenly your hips aren’t in the way. Your swinging arm will angle across your body, but it can follow a straight path along the aiming line.
When you move your arm as a controlled unit (which doesn’t mean it’s rigid), you’ll get a true pendulum swing, with much better weight control. Muscle memory becomes easier, because your brain has just one thing to learn: “If I move my arm this hard, the bowl goes that far.” But if your elbow flexes a lot, your brain gets addled: “Should I move my upper arm a little? Swing my lower arm a lot? Or vice-versa?”
Here’s your arm when it’s moving well:
We all have good days and bad days. As long as you can brush off the bad ones, and have a good chat with your fellow bowlers over a pint or two you won’t go too far wrong.