Bowlers - improve your draw bowling by 20% for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
Robert (Bob) Tuck, the originator of getagameofbowls, has recently written a book called Lawn Bowls: The Game & How To Play It Well. You can find out more about the book from this link or read part of the chapter on getting your weight here
You can buy the printed book for $24 posted or as an ebook for less than $5 on all platforms.

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    Hints for Coaches and Players

    Equipment which does not need to cost the earth
  • The essential low cost items
  • Items which can be purchased
  • Introducing people to the game
  • Run a Learn to Play Bowls
  • Have Bowls Parties at Your Club
  • Welcome School Groups - Here is a program for a school bowls class
  • Coaching Individuals and Groups
  • Setting Up a coaching session
  • Individual Practice - including routines for leads, seconds, thirds, skips
  • Club Practice
  • Circuits
  • Games
  • The Shooter Stance - help for some dumpers
  • Practice and Coaching Ideas for More Advanced Players
  • Dealing with the mat well up the green
  • Using the mat to get outside or inside a bowl
  • The Mathematics of Narrow Bowls
  • Advanced Individual Weight Control Practice
  • Lawn Bowls Coaching YouTube Videos
  • YouTube Lawn Bowls Coaching VideosThis link offers 32 coaching vidieos arranged in sections to provide short learning segments for coaches and players


  • In most practise situations a half tennis ball is more useful than a jack. Used instead of a jack it wil not ever move to the wrong place.
  • They also can be used for all sorts of marking situations for coaching exercises.
  • Get a supply from a local tennis club or buy them for about $2 for six from your local cheapie shop.
  • Get 24, cut them in half and put them in your coaching bag

  • The next most useful device also costs very little.
  • Obtain some off cuts of thin rigid plastic sheeting (up to 1.5mm thick?) in white or a bright colour. Cut them into small rectangular pieces (about 100mm x 300mm).
  • These are then used for many purposes, mostly to mark positions on the green where bowls should pass.
  • Because they do not affect the path of the bowl they are much more useful than the more commonly suggested old DVD and CD discs.
  • I have found that on most days there is no need to fix the markers in place, but it is useful to have some 25mm flat head nails in your bag to fix them in place on windy days

  • Find some small different coloured markers which can be used to indicate target areas on the green.
  • I use orange donut shaped plastic rings about 50mm diameter and 10mm thick ( perhaps raid the toy cupboard!)

  • If your club has some old cloth mats guard them carefully. When you need to put out 20 mats for a coaching exercise modern plastic mats are very heavy.
  • In addition a thin cloth mat is often useful as a target area instead of a jack


  • These mats are very useful for many coaching activities. They can be obtained from BowlsSA for $160.00 Find them at Bowls SA Two mats would be needed by a club conducting regular coaching with groups and especially with schools

  • The coloured bowl disks and white jack disks stay put when hit and are useful for much more than driving practise.
  • A set of 12 disc costs about $130. Look at the manufacturer's web site to find your nearest stockist. South Australian clubs click here

  • If your club is serious about introducing children to the game you should have at least one set of junior bowls. Most children up to 11 years olds can not handle size 00 bowls. For a big group you can use indoor bowls but a serious tryer should be able to use junior bowls which are available from Velocity Lawn bowls in a range of colours and sizes at $220 per set. Click on the image to go to their site

    (4) ABP Coaching Aides
    Barry Plant manufactures a wide range of coaching equipment under the business name of ABP Coaching Aides His site is the only place I know in Australia which sells a dumping mat. You can watch a UTube video of his products. These items are suitable for use on both grass and synthetic greens


    Run a Learn to Play Bowls Class

    Every bowling club offers free instruction to new bowlers, most offering a temporary membership during which the bowler is introduced to the game. However your club can get a boost in membership by running a learn to play bowls course which involves some expense and and lots of organisation. The process is
  • Plan the process and apply for a grant
  • Prepare a brochure and distribute through a direct mail organization - I recommend Australia Post.
  • The brochure needs to be properly designed (we used Elance). If your club offers non bowling services to the local area (ie meals, gaming, venue hire), quality advertising for these services delivered to every letterbox in your area will be worth far more than the total cost of the brochure and distribution.
  • Receive applications, prepare participant packs including booklets on the game
  • arrange coaching groups (ideal size 6-10 using two rinks with one coach and one helper)
  • Organize a slick orientation night for all applicants
  • Do the grind of four or five sessions.
  • Then run a special tournament for trainees and invite them to join your club
  • Costings You should be able to break even on the course, and if you get 25% of trainees joining your club you will be way ahead after the first year.

    Financial Results for a recent course at my club

    Costs - brochure sent to 16500 mail boxes printing $2000 Mailing $2400, participant packs $400 Total $4800

    Income 80 at $50 $4000.

    We received a grant which meant we ran at a slight profit. 21 students became members.

    Have Bowls Parties at Your Club

    Every person who enjoys a social day on your greens is a potential member of your club. If there is a night where your bar is open anyway and you have willing coaches then a bowls parties are very easy to organize and can be offered to corporate groups, family groups and small business and school groups.
  • My club offers them on Friday nights at $12.50 per head for bowls and a finger food supper.
  • A coach attends each session with responsibility for getting out the equipments, very basic instruction and safety.
  • The caterer provides the finger food at the time requested.
  • The group size offered is 8 to 80 and and more than one group can be present on the same night

  • The club makes a good profit on every party and also sees them as a long term recruiting tool

    Coaching School Groups

    If your local schools are interested and you have trained and approved junior coaches then your club should welcome school groups coming with teachers and helpers as part of their Physical Education program.

    Do not overdo this type of visit. The ideal program for an introduction to bowls for children aged 12-16 consists of 2 to 4 sessions of 60-80 minutes.

    Children who have a good experience at your club will tell their parents, who are probably in the age group who are your prime recruiting target. Very few children will take up bowls as their sport, but in very few years be of an age to join night owls or barefoot bowls

    Here is a program for a school bowls class

    In South Australia (an probably in other states> year 12 students can do lawn Bowls as a major or minor sport in their year 12 Physical Education course. if you get a chance to have such a group at your club jump at it. As a coach you will learn a lot. Half of all bowlers at my club would fail the assessment criteria required for this course


    Whether you have been approached by one player or are taking a small group of up to six many of the same techniques will be used.

    Some important things to consider
  • In any session the more people per rink the less valuable the practice. Hence if you have the space with three people use one rink, for 4 or 5 two rinks and for 6 three rinks. Set up the rinks before your students arrive with mats at each end
  • Your first duty is to check for safety and to find out if your student has any physical disability

  • Your first session with a club bowler who has asked for help
  • Check bowls and grip

  • From your observations try to correct mat position insisting that they use the correct three positions
    (1) behind the mat to receive skipper's instructions
    (2) move to the opposite corner
    (3) line up the shot and then step onto the mat along the the line

    While everyone may have a different action and different ways of getting green and weight, every bowler will benefit from getting onto the mat in this way. About half of all club bowlers do not get on to the mat in a consistent manner.

  • Set up two flat plastic markers 15cm apart 10 metres from the mat so that your student's bowl should pass between them for a good green. Get the student try to put 4 bowls through the gap, then adjust the markers so that a bowl through the gap will have perfect green. Diagnose faults which may be causing errors.

    You now know the size of your task because if the student can not aim a reasonable percentage of bowls through a gap 10 metres away there are problems to be solved.

  • Continue for the remainder of the session with students bowling through gaps and building confidence. For a more advanced bowler narrow the gap to 5cm

  • If you have more than one student finish the session with a game such as the target mat game

  • Subsequent Sessions

    What you do will vary considerably depending on the your observations in the first session. You should at some time check out these basic areas

    (1) Getting the green

    [a] For each mat position sighting the fixed spot on the bank and drawing down to a spot on the green

  • For using the bank the long lines we currently use in most clubs are very helpful.
  • The spot on the green will be a given distance from the end of the line.
  • The player stays down until his bowl passes this spot
  • The combination of where the bowl passed the spot and the finishing distance from the centre line should give the player exact green the next bowl from the same mat position
  • The spot on the green ten metres from the mat moves approximately one tenth of the distance a correctly delivered bowl finishes from the centre line (depending on the speed of the green)

    [b] Visualising the required path of the bowl
  • A player who visualizes fixes the angle required for correct green given the conditions on the day
  • For visualisation a useful method is to put 4 or 5 flat plastic markers along the path of the players bowl for a given length from mat to mat(use a mat as the target) and see if the course can be followed for well delivered bowls. This is a great confidence building activity for any bowler

  • (2) Discuss how the player varies weight and use activities to test this.
  • Talk about the arm as a pendulum, varying the length of the step, moving forward or back on the mat
  • If the player has no method, show your method
  • For some players they can vary the height of the arm for the pendulum by sighting through the arm and the bowl to the front of the mat
  • Get them to bowl to 4 markers (long, shorter shorter shorter) until they work it out
  • For more advanced players put down two markers initially three metres apart and have them deliver two bowls, the first shorter than the long marker and the second between the first bowl and the near marker. Each time they succeed reduce the gap by a half metre

  • Teaching more advanced players how to deal with a mat up the line

    Provided wind conditions do not change on each side of the green there is one angle at which the bowl must be delivered for it to finish on the centre line.

    Some bowlers visualize this angle. If you do this you do not need to worry about the position of the mat

    Most bowlers find their green from a point on the bank (hence keeping the angle fixed unless the mat position changed). Most ends of bowls are played with the mat between 1 and 4 metres of the T, and on the trial ends the mat will usually be in this normal range.

    If the mat is less than about 5 metres from the T the change of angle is so small that it is not worth changing the bank aiming point

    Where the mat is placed more than about 5 metres up the green it is easy to find your new aiming point
  • Before going to the mat for your first bowl stand on the line in the normal position (1-2 metres from the T)
  • Look at your aiming point.
  • Imagine a line drawn from where you are standing to your aiming point
  • Estimate the distance between this line and the centre of the mat
  • For the new mat position move your aiming point towards the centre line by that distance

  • A bowling dilemma: How do you use the mat to get around a bowl?
    Originally written by Bob Tuck 2011 and updated July 2015

    The Problem
    A few years ago I had a problem. Most of the books on bowls I had read told me that to get around a bowl which you believe is on your draw line, you move across the mat as far as you can to the opposite side. That is a right hander moves to the left for a forehand and to the right for a backhand. As a long term coach I always taught the textbook method if an experienced bowler asked me.

    My new, highly respected club coach told me this was completely wrong : you just move to the side you are bowling on

    The Mathematics of Bowls
    I had never explored the reasons behind the move across the mat but I thought I should try to sort out who was right; surely both ways could not work. Google did not help; I could find nothing of substance on the topic at all. As a lifetime applied mathematics teacher I reasoned that it should be possible to use mathematics to sort out which method was correct

    How does mathematics come into lawn bowls? The most important way is in the establishment of the green angle. For a given set of bowls on a given green with current wind there is a fixed angle between the centre line of the rink and the delivery line which will result in the bowl finishing on the centre line. This angle would normally be between 4 and 12 degrees

    Getting Your Green
    There are two main methods which are used by bowlers to ensure that they get the angle right as often as possible

  • The visualiser is able to remember the required angle for each end and each hand and concentrates on getting this right throughout the day. Most visualise the track the bowl will take from hand to head, hopefully getting the weight right through the same process. A big percentage of high level bowlers use this method

  • The bank aimer sets the angle by finding a point on the bank which provides the correct angle on each hand. Most then drop their eyes to a point on the green along this line and aim at that point. The bank aimer has to know what to do if the mat is placed up the green by more than a couple of metres (see this link)

  • My coach Geoff is a visualizer, I am a bank aimer. I decided that this must be the cause of the our disagreement


    Method One - move to the side you are bowling on
  • The visualiser moves to the outside of the mat and bowls using exactly the same angle so that the bowl travels parallel to a bowl delivered from the normal mat position, clearing the bowl in the path by a couple of centimetres, and finishing off the centre line by the distance moved across the mat
  • The bank aimer can also use this method, but has to move the bank aiming point by the distance moved across the mat to deliver a parallel bowl

  • Method Two - move to the opposite side
  • Move to the inside of the mat as far as the foot fault rule allows you to go (perhaps 21 cm)
  • Bowl at your usual point on the bank
  • The angle taken by your bowl is slightly increased making it go wider to get around the bowl and causing it to finish wider
  • Since you have delivered it 21 cms narrower it should finish near the jack provided you have bowled it with perfect green and weight
  • This method can only be used by a bank aimer since the visualizer would have to increase the remembered angle by a very small amount for one bowl (perhaps from 7 degrees to 7.04 degrees)
  • Getting around a bowl using this method will only work if the bowl you want to go around is in the last quarter of the path to the head. The new path crosses the old path at about 70% of the run. My testing of this showed that the margin for error is very low and hence I believe that it may be better to also add a few cm to the aiming point when using this method.

    There is probably no point in even mentioning these methods to beginning bowlers.

    Which Method Should You Use
    Prior to 2015 the foot fault rule requires you to you have to have one foot completely on the mat in the set position. If you usually bowl with the centre of your fixed foot on the centre of the mat, the old foot fault rule allowed you to move for a backhand only about 10-12cms to the outside of the mat but approximately 20-22cms to the inside of the mat (and vice versa for a forehand) The much more liberal new rule which only requires any contact with the mat in the set position results in about the same possible movement of 20-22cms for both backhand and forehand. Now your choice might depend on where other bowls are located

    However what is mostly required is confidence in your actions so that you maintain your perfect weight and green. Over the years I have been surprised how often using one of these methods works for me, given my moderate draw bowling ability, the small margins involved, and the likelihood that the offending bowl may not be exactly on the normal path. Perhaps it succeeds because it forces the bowler to concentrate harder than usual on delivering that bowl.


    Among bowlers opinions vary about individual practice. Here are the reasons why you should put down many more bowls in practice than you do in competition.

  • When you practise by yourself you put down 100 bowls per hour, and this is the only bowling activity which has prospects of improving your physical fitness! One hour of solo practice is worth more to most bowlers than three hours in a game
  • If you are a lead or a second almost all of your bowls are draw bowls and the more bowls you put down the better.
  • For thirds and skippers 90% of bowls are draw bowls because the only time you do not bowl a draw bowl is when you aim to finish in the ditch.
  • As a third or a skipper very often you do not see where your bowl would have finished because it hits other bowls. If you play regularly in those positions and do not make the time for individual practise the quality of your draw bowling may decline.
  • When practising a skill (eg yard on shots) by yourself you can keep repeating the same shot until you get it right.
  • Such specific shot practice is the only time when you should bowl more than 2 bowls at the same target. For example if you have practised yard on shots enough eventually when called on to play them in a game your brain tells you how much to narrow your green and increase your weight

  • Many players practise by rolling up with a few mates, putting a jack at each end and bowling four bowls in turn. Some when practising by themselves set out a jack at each end and bowl four bowls without varying length and side and mat position. These types of practice are not very useful.

    In almost every game of bowls you get only two bowls at the same target, which are delivered with only one bowl in between. Your practise must reflect this and you should usually never play more than two bowls at the same target (change hand, length and mat position), always trying to improve with your second bowl. You only deliver more than two bowls at the same target when trying to master a specific skill

    Please take this into account when working out your own practice routines. Some examples are below. For more individual activities look at the circuit routines


  • If you have only a short time for draw bowling practise use three half tennis balls as jacks, placing two at one end three metres apart and one at the other end. Walk your mat.
  • Starting at the end with the single jack, deliver two bowls to the longer jack on one hand, two to the shorter jack on the other hand.
  • Put your mat in front of the shorter jack and deliver two bowls to the single jack, then move it to the back jack and send down two bowls on the other hand.
  • Do this up and back four times and in less than more than 30 minutes you will have given yourself some excellent draw bowling practice.


    These routines all are for about 100 bowls and should take about one hour. You may decide to concentrate on one skill for a longer part of your practice

    Take out three jacks and some markers

  • First end: bowl full length to no jack, and then take off two metres with each of the next three bowls. Do this in each direction (8 bowls).
  • AIM: four equally spaced bowls on the centre line, finding green and establishing control of weight

  • Roll a jack then a bowl using the same weight as you used for the jack (you should use the same delivery for the jack as you do for the bowl).
  • Do this three times, long medium short. Compare the finishing positions of the bowls and jacks and so work out how to alter your delivery between bowl and jack.
  • Draw with your other bowl to the longest jack Do this in each direction (8 bowls).
  • AIM - jack roll practice The jack roll may also help you get the correct weight for your first bowl

  • Place a jack at one end and a marker about 2 metres shorter and a jack at the other end. Place the mat and bowl twice at the long jack and then twice at the shorter jack staying on same side of green.
  • Change ends, place the mat in front of the shorter jack and bowl twice at the single jack on same side.
  • Then move the mat back to the longer jack and bowl twice, staying on the same side of the rink. Repeat (16 bowls). Vary the placement of the mat each time.
  • Change to the other side of the rink and repeat (16 bowls)
  • Continue but keep swapping sides. For example two forehands to long jack , two backhands to short jack two backhands with mat up two forehands with mat back (32 bowls)

  • AIM two bowl draw practice, second bowl should beat first bowl!

    Take out two jacks and four markers or rebound jacks and markers

  • First End: bowl full length to no jack, and then take off two metres with each of the next three bowls. Do this in each direction (8 bowls).
    AIM:four equally spaced bowls on the centre line, finding green and establishing control of weight.

  • Place a jack near the six foot spot and a marker at one end at least three metres apart and one jack at the other end. Place the mat and bowl twice at the long jack and then twice at the short marker. Change ends, place the mat in front of the shorter marker and bowl twice at the single jack. Then move the mat back to the longer jack and bowl twice. Repeat three times, varying the mat position .(32 bowls). Initially bowl both bowls on the same side, later bowl one bowl on each hand.
    AIM: two bowl draw practice to develop control of green. The second bowl should be better than the first

  • Using four rebound bowls (or flat plastic markers with a spare bowl sitting on top). At each end place the markers or bowls about 1 metre and 2 metres short of the jack so that they are comfortably inside (20 to 30 cm) the line which you would expect your bowl to take when drawing on that hand. Draw to a target area behind the jack within 1 metre. Bowl all four on the same hand. Do this three times each way (24 bowls)
    Aim : getting around a bowl without adding weight. When most bowlers are faced faced with this position, 60% of bowls are narrow and 30% heavy even when the short bowl is well clear of the needed path

  • At each end of the rink place one marker or rebound bowl 30cm from the jack in a jack high position, and another marker 1 metre back and 50 cm narrow. With your first bowl on each end try to draw within 30cm. If you are not satisfied with your first bowl try again. With subsequent bowls try to achieve a yard on bowl through the gap or turning out your first bowl by slightly increasing the weight and reducing the green. This is best done by making the back marker your jack (depending on the width of your bowls): repeat three times (24 bowls).
    Aim:to play a yard on, turning out an opposition bowl while keeping your bowl in the head

  • Place kitties and markers off centre and draw to them. (8 bowls)

    Take out two jacks and four markers or rebound jacks and markers and some half tennis balls

  • First End: bowl full length to no jack, and then take off two metres with each of the next three bowls. Do this in each direction (8 bowls).
    AIM: four equally spaced bowls on the centre line, finding green and establishing control of weight

  • At one end place a jack near the six foot spot and a marker three metres away and one jack at the other end. Place the mat and bowl twice at the longer jack and then twice at the shorter marker WITHOUT CROSSING THE CENTRE LINE. Change ends, place the mat in front of the marker and bowl twice at the single jack. Then move the mat back to the longer jack and bowl twice. Repeat three times.(32 bowls). Initially bowl both bowls on same side, later bowl one bowl on each hand.
    AIM: two bowl draw practice, developing control of green and learning not to cross the head when holding

  • Using four rebound bowls and two rebound jacks (or four bowls sitting on markers and two jacks), coloured markers to show target area. At each end place markers or bowls about 1 metre and 2 metres short of the jack so that they are comfortably inside (20 to 30 cm) the line which you would expect your bowl to take when drawing on that hand. Draw to a target area behind the jack within metre. Bowl all four on the same hand, trying to go around the rebound bowls and finish inside the target area. Do this three times each way (24 bowls)
    Aim: get around a bowl without adding weight. When faced with this position most bowlers play 60% of bowls narrow and 30% heavy even when the short bowl is well clear of the needed path

  • At each end place a rebound bowls or half tennis ball 30cm from the jack (or rebound jack) in a jack high position. Mark a target area 70 cm square with a half tennis ball in the middle. With your first bowl on each end try to draw within 30cm. If you are not satisfied with your first bowl try again. With subsequent bowls try to draw to the target square by slightly increasing the weight and reducing the green (making the half tennis ball in the middle of the square your jack). With practice try to increase the speed of the shot by one metre with each bowl on each end, but none of these bowls should finish in the ditch. Repeat three or more times (24 bowls)
    Aim: to develop skill in yard on bowls and running through the head without losing your bowl

  • Place one jack or rebound jack on the centre line and a half tennis ball on each side of the rink, one close to the ditch. Drive twice at the single jack. Then draw to each marker outside in. Repeat one or more times if your have the energy, varying the mat position (16 bowls)
    AIM: to develop driving skill and to be able to immediately return to the draw



    When you have a side or club practice a circuit is the ideal way for each bowler to warm up.
  • The coaches can do the circuit themselves and stay around to help the players with the skills required on that day.
  • Bowlers use the circuit as individuals because groups of two or three slow down proceedings. They start as soon as they arrive and some who arrive early may want to do the circuit more than once
  • You can use 2 or 4 bowls, but four is better because most of the circuit will be testing specific skills.

  • Circuits take a lot of space for the number of players using them, but you can get around that problem by using half rinks.
  • For example on a North South green every bowl is put down on the Western side .
  • Each activity is repeated so that every bowler delivers four bowls on each hand at each activity.
  • The best number of activities is four or five. As each is repeated the warm up will have consisted of 32 or 40 bowls and should take each bowler 25 to 35 minutes
  • The first activities in a circuit should be to enable players to warm up, getting green and weight, middle ones should teach and test particular skills and the last activity should be a draw bowling test (such as getting your score on a target mat)
  • A library of circuit activities is shown here Many of these activities are suitable for individual practice


    When your team gets together to practise the best game to play is two bowl pairs. There are three advantages in doing this over playing against another four

  • Everybody gets to put down twice as many bowls in the time available.
  • The lead and second get plenty of draw bowling practice
  • The third and skipper have the opportunity to discuss the bowls they are playing and become more confortable with the bowling ability and tactics of the team

  • Sometimes play two bowl pairs drawing to a zone (see below)


    Schedule a club practice for four Saturday mornings prior to the start of pennnant trials

  • Set out circuit type skills on 16 rinks.
  • Provide players with instructions and scoring cards. Allot four players to each rink, playing four bowls. Two play and two score and then they swap.
  • Players are scored on each of the skills and keep their record, and then move to the next rink.
  • Coaches are allocated to certain rinks and provide help and instruction.
  • Watch this space for details of the circuit activities used, score cards and a recording spread sheet


  • Put a mat at each end and mark out a "scoring zone" ie a 1 metre square with two flat plastic markers at the front and two other markers at the back, with a half tennis ball as the jack at the centre of the square.
  • Play a competitive game in which the score for each end is the normal bowls score plus one for each bowl which finishes with any part inside the square
  • This can be played as two bowl pairs, three bowl pairs of two bowl triples

  • ONE WAY THIRDS & SKIPPERS PRACTICE(thanks to Jeff Aworth)

  • Four players per rink.
  • One mat one jack, two bowls from each player stay at the head.
  • Take turns to be director of the head. The director sets up an end using the jack and the eight bowls, and gives direction to the other three bowlers who get two chances to play the required shot.
  • The director them rolls the 6 bowls back and changes the head and gives new instructions.
  • This is a very vigorous activity which provides the club coach with great opportunities to observe the skills of the players (and players the chance to impress the coach!)

  • THE MATHEMATICS OF NARROW BOWLS(article by Bob Tuck 2007)

    The Mathematics of Narrow Bowls

    In 2007 I decided to replace my bowls. My first move was to look for information on the internet and searched the names of each of the available brands and versions. The amount of information available in discussion groups and blog sites surprised me. After some time I decided that one brand and type might suit me and I spent as couple of hours reading all of the posts about these bowls. Every bowler who had bought them had nothing but praise for them, and most people who did not actually own them complained that they should be illegal! I decided to look investigate the advantages mathematically and wrote this article.

    I tried out a set of these bowls and was astonished to find that my aiming point for the new bowls was always just less than half as wide as my aiming point for the ABT2000 bowls which I had used for about 8 years. When I bought them, the ABT2000 was considered to be a somewhat narrow bowl. This led me to examine the advantages which should theoretically follow if I changed to the narrow bowls.

    There are two ways in which having narrow bowls should improve your bowling:
  • reduction in green error because the narrow bowl moves across the green half as much as the wider bowl
  • reduction in weight error because the narrow bowl rolls a shorter distance

    If the aiming point is half as wide for the narrow bowl, this means that the distance moved across the green by the narrow bowl will be half that of the wider bowl. Hence the average green error should be halved. If, for instance, my average delivery with the wider bowls finishes 30cm from the centre line, my average with the narrow bowls should be 15cm from the line. The average distance to the jack with a jack high bowl will be halved, but Pythagoras theorem will reduce the percentage saving for bowls with imperfect weight.

    I used a simple spreadsheet to make some calculations This showed that the reduction in green error from changing to the narrower bowl green range from a 9.2% improvement in distance from the jack for beginners to a 16.5% improvement for highly skilled bowlers

    For example for a bowl finishing 20 cm wide the improvement by halving this to 10cm is 10cm for a jack high bowl (50%). A bowl one metre long or short and 20cm wide is 102.1 cm from the jack while a bowl 1 metre long or short and 10cm wide is 100.5 cm from the jack, an improvement of 1.6cm (less than 2%). Since the weight error will decrease considerably as skill level increases we would expect to that the percentage reduction in distance from the jack will increase with the skill of the bowler.

    I presumed that, for all bowlers, a well delivered bowl will come to rest somewhere in rectangle which reduces in size as the skill of the bowler increase.. As we move from a Beginner to a State Player, the maximum expected green errors and weight errors are decreased

    The measures of the increasing skill of bowlers below are are guesses - no foundation in fact!!

    BEGINNER a well delivered bowl stops at random in an area 2.4 metres long and 1 metre wide

    AVERAGE BOWLER a well delivered bowl stops at random in an area 2 metres long and 80 cm wide

    GOOD BOWLER a well delivered bowl stops at random in an area 1.6 metres long and 60cm wide

    TOP GRADE BOWLER a well delivered bowl stops at random in an area 1.2 metres long & 50cm wide

    STATE PLAYER a well delivered bowl stops at random in an area 80cm long and 40cm wide with the jack at the centre

    It is logical that the error in weight of a delivered bowl will be related to the distance the bowl travels. It is hard to calculate the length of the path of a bowl mathematically, so I used a scale drawing and string to estimate the difference in length of path of wide and narrow bowls. In a 28 metre end a wide bowl reaching a point 5 metres wide and finishing on the centre line rolls 31.5 metres. A narrow bowl reaching a point 2.5 metres wide and finishing on the centre line rolls 29.2 metres. Hence since the length of path is reduced by 2.3 metres or 7.3%, changing to the narrow bowls should cause a similar reduction in the weight error. This reduction should be the same for bowlers of all skill levels.

    When the reductions in the green and weight errors are compounded the improvement in accuracy will range from 18% for less skilled bowlers to 25% for highly skilled bowlers.



    Bowlers control weight with their brain. We have to train our brain to control the speed with which we deliver the bowl. The worst thing we can do for weight control is to put one jack at each and and keep on bowling 4 bowls each way. In this routine every bowl is drawn to a different length

    For this practice
  • Use 6 half tennis balls or other markers
  • Set up 3 each end - initially with one on the 6 foot mark, the 2nd 3-4 metres up and the third 3 metres further
  • Place the mat in a normal position giving you enough room to bowl past the 2nd marker
  • Bowl your first bowl at the longest marker, the second at the middle marker and the third at the short marker. Bowl your fourth bowl at the one you missed by the most
  • Generally deliver all four bowls on the same hand, but change hands occasionally
  • Your aim is to get 3 bowls within a mat length of the marker- I say I will go home if I ever get all 4 within a mat length!
  • Use this practice for 30-45 minutes initially, varying the mat position. As you develop more skill reduce the distance between the markers.

  • This is a routine for all bowlers but particularly for 3rds and skippers who need regular weight control practice because many of their bowls will hit other bowls before stopping.

    For leads and seconds this is also a valuable routine. However add this to it. Whenever you draw within 10cm with a bowl try to deliver the next bowl at the same target and finish beyond the marker by less than 50cm