​​​Joondalup Lawn Bowling Club

Coaches Tips

Leads, The importance of being one!


Too often the position of Lead is undervalued. “It’s only the lead, his bowls can be covered by the second if he fails” is heard far too often. There is a school of opinion that says “Pick the skip, pick the lead and then fill the other 2 positions.”

The guide below from Bowls WA gives the importance of a lead and how the position should be played.



Have good communications with the skipper. Discuss the length of ends he or she requires either prior to the start or after the roll up.

Become an expert in the rolling of the jack - don't just roll it, be precise.

The length of ends is very important in controlling the game or trying to score shots to get back into it. Leaders should spend some time in practice rolling the jack.

Good Leaders are considered the most valuable player in the side, and consistent Leaders who draw close bowls nearly every end are classed as a luxury by Skippers.

Leaders have first use of the conditions and should take advantage of playing all their bowls on the best side of the green unless otherwise directed.

Short bowls from a Leader are a disaster and place enormous pressure on their team. A bowl finishing approximately 45cm to 60cm short of jack can be promoted by drawing. Anything shorter requires too much weight to bring it into the head unless the green is running 1-16 seconds.

 Leaders having an off day should resort to deliberately playing their bowls long so as

to give their team a chance to draw from the second to the skipper. Your back bowls will never go astray.

A Leader playing well gives the skipper full control of the head and allows him to dictate the game. Not many games are lost when the Skipper has full control of most ends.

Of all players in a team, the Leader has the least pressure placed on him, therefore he can and does lose concentration easily. Watch the game, look for changing conditions and applaud your team’s good bowls.

Remember, a killed end brings you back into the game. To replay the end you will have to pick up your concentration level sooner than planned.

Avoid playing niggle shots when no direction has been given by the Skipper, there are other players in your team well equipped to play the shot. Your object is to draw two (2) close bowls on the same side of the green unless otherwise directed.

lf you have drawn a front toucher with your first bowl, or close enough to be one; concentrate even more on your second bowl so it finishes behind the head. lf you play your second bowl so you don’t disturb your close bowl, you will on many occasions drop short thus losing the advantage of your first good bowl.

Fitness plays an important part of bowls. lf you can improve yours by about 10%, your game will also improve.

Good teams are built around good Leaders and their role can be the strength of that team.



Most bowls is played over 21 ends; but the principle is the same for any game. Don’t look at the game as a whole; but break it down into sections.

Ends 1 to 5: Settle in, get the pace and draw lines right, observe the opposition and see what they want to play.  (Long ends? Skips and 3rds drive a lot? Mat placement? Which hand are they playing?)


Ends 6 to 10: Play within yourselves and take a few more risks with appropriate shots.


Ends 11 to 15: If behind, concentrate HARD on every bowl to peg the opposition back. If in front, continue to play the way that got you there. DON’T go too defensive!


Ends 16 to 21:  If in front, set a target to pick up another 5 - 6 shots. Remember, 6 ends at 1 up means the opposition can’t score and you control the game and how it is played. The only time to take risks in this segment is to try to gain an aggregate win for the club. All rinks, whether behind or ahead should pick up as many shots as possible. If 4 rinks can pick up 4 extra shots each, it means 16 on the aggregate!


Sets Play is much the same except that the first 3 ends of the second set are the most vital, whether you won or lost the first set. This is especially so if you have won the first set comfortably. If the opposition gets on top in the second set, they go into the tiebreaker with momentum are will be favourites to win the game.

With the opportunity for an extended roll up, the settling in period should only be the first 2 ends.


Bowls is a simple game

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

There are a few ways to achieve this:

                        Draw close to the kitty

                        Move the kitty closer to your bowls

                        Move the opponents’ bowls

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

A good team leaves his/her 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 kitty 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 kitty and 1 about a metre 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 metre 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 his/her 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 mat position and 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 his/her 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. He/she is 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 1 metre weight to sit out the red bowl. It’s jack high”.


Applaud & acknowledge good bowls as this will boost confidence. Do not fall for the trap of “talking up “ poor or mediocre bowls. Your team will not give their best if mediocre is good enough and accepted.



The following guidelines provide a self analysis for skips. If you are putting these principles into effect, chances are you are winning more games than you are losing. The trick here is to brutally honest with yourself and your performance!



Skippers notes


            What is my game plan?

                                    Have I explained it to my Rink members?

                                    Do my team members understand and agree?

                                    Does it change from home to away games?

                                    Has it achieved desired results, if yes how and if not, why not?


            Do I communicate well?

Are my instructions clear?

                                    Do rink members understand “what bowl result I am requesting”?

                                    Am I concise or do I invoke indecision by giving to many options?

                                    In my communication am I inclusive or closed?

                                    Is my body Language and “tone of voice” acceptable?

                                    Do I acknowledge, encourage and support both rink and other team members?



            What are my expectations of each rink member’s position?




                                    Have I communicated my expectation to each person individually?

                                    Have I communicated my expectation to SELECTORS?


            Do I evaluate?

                                    Not only my own game performance but that of each rink member?

                                    Do I question tactics used and the results?

                                    Am I honest with my evaluations?

            Do I provide the necessary feedback to selectors which may assist them in their efforts to evaluate and develop a stronger selection process?


            Am I a Captain?

                                    Am I seen as a strong player?

                                    Do I contribute?

                                    Can I build better relationships with team members?

                                    Do I lead by example?

                                    Do I do the team things, not only for my rink, but also for the entire division?

                                    Do I encourage rink practice?

            Do I encourage team members to get coaching to address specific inconsistencies?





The 5 "C's" of successful bowlers



COMMITMENT:           Commit to becoming the best bowler you can be.

                                     Commit to helping you team mates and club achieve success


CONFIDENCE:              Have confidence in your own ability

                Have the confidence to play the shot your skip asks  for: - he/she has a better view of the head and is unlikely to call you on a shot he/she knows you can’t  play



CONCENTRATION:   Give every bowl absolute concentration – it will help with the Commitment and Confidence.

                                      Don’t dwell on the previous bowl….this one is the important one!


CONTROL:                  Have control over what you do; especially on the mat…..once the bowl leaves the hand, it’s too late to change anything.


CONSISTENCY:         Getting the first 4 C’s right will give you the consistency to achieve success. Every bowler  is capable of delivering a world class bowl- the best                                             bowlers simply do it more often!




Get these right and……………. COUNT ‘EM UP






The 5 "C's" of successful bowlers

Grouping Skills Training.
This drill is used to improve consistency.
Procedure - Roll a bowl to the length of end you wish to practice.
Place it on the centre line.
Play the remaining 3 bowls as close as you can to the first bowl and
measure each bowl where it finishes,
2 Points for drawing within 400mm.
1 Point for drawing within 750mm
Mark those bowls which don’t finish within 750mm with reason why,
W = wide or N = narrow,
First Bowl Delivered, place on the centre line
Then group bowls 2, 3, & 4 as close as you can to your first bowl.
Play 20 ends and keep your score: be honest with yourself!
Grouping Skills
Player: Date:
Bowls F/H = /30
Bowls B/H = /30
Short Ends = /30
Long Ends = /30
2 Points drawing within 400 mm
1 Point drawing within 750 mm
W = Wide, N = Narrow
“L” should be between 30 and 36 metres
“S” should be between 22 and 28 metres
Contact Geoff Stevenson for any queries