Player Roles in Lawn Bowls

What is my role as a lead?

Duty: The lead of the team to play first in an end should;

  • Place the mat as directed by the skip,
  • Deliver the jack and make sure that it is centred before delivering the first bowl of the end,
  • Help to return lawn bowls to a safe position behind the mat at the conclusion of each end.

Objective: Leads are required to draw their bowls as close to the jack as possible. That is pretty obvious.

Gamesmanship: You should ignore what the opposition lead is doing and play your bowls to achieve your objective.

Mat & Jack Tactics: Tactics begin in trial ends; from the toss of the coin, the first placement position of the mat and playing length of the jack. It is therefore vital the lead watches the skip for instructions for the placement and delivery length. It is not the prerogative of the lead to move the mat around at will or vary the length of ends.

Trial ends: During trial ends lawn bowls are played on the forehand and backhand to determine the best side to play. After consultation with the skip, the best side (usually the narrow hand) is chosen and played. This hand is not changed unless instructed by the skip.

Wisdom: Wisdom suggests that the lead should always bowls on the same side of the rink as this obviates the necessity of having to cope with the varying width and pace of the green.

Self-Control: The requirement of leads is to deliver their bowls as close to the jack as possible. Unless specifically instructed by their skip; they should strictly avoid niggling at close opposition bowls, keep their mind clear and focused on their objective. Remember in a team effort, a good close second bowl is just as important as the shot bowl.


What is my role as a second?

General Duties: The second must be a versatile player for defence, attack or recovery with the ability to;

  • Draw on either hand to the jack or to a position designated by the skip,
  • Be able to play on-shots to trail the jack to designated lengths,
  • Rest on or wrest out bowls from the head.
  • When the lead has failed, re-establish the leads obligation at the head,
  • Assist in moving the bowls back behind the mat at the conclusion of each end,


What is my role as a third?

Harmony: It is essential the third works in complete harmony with the skip and members of the lawn bowls team.

Be in charge of the head when skips are bowling or in absent of the skip.

  • If delegated to measure for shot and decide with the opponent the number of shots and signal the result to skip and the second,
  • Help to return bowls to a safe position behind the mat at the conclusion of ach end,
  • Must know and be able to identify the teams and opponent’s bowls,
  • Answer the skips queries correctly and concisely.

Experience & Ability: Apart from being experienced in all shots from the draw to the drive, they must also be able to quickly indicate the position of the head or bowls when asked for this information.  

Control & Advice: The thirds should not attempt to control the skips play, and refrain from offering advice unless pacifically asked for by the skip. Idle Chatter:

Other Attributes:

  • Must be able to act as the director of the head,
  • Be able to determine the shot quickly when asked,
  • Able to indicate the up or down position after the skips bowls comes to rest,
  • Should always know who holds second and third shots,
  • Must always be aware of the position of bowls in the head when its his turn to play but under no circumstances pre-empt the skips instructions,
  • Must observe all shot measurements and where in doubt recheck the measurement,
  • It is vital that the third has a thorough knowledge of the laws of the game, conditions of play and the etiquette of the game.

Etiquette The third should discourage any interruption by the lead or second when directing or measuring at the head.


What is my role as a skip?

Responsibility The skip carries the responsibilities and duties and therefore must be supported by the team.

To be in charge of the team, delegate duties and notify opponent when necessary,

  • As applicable instruct the team members which shot to play,
  • Make decisions with the opponent to comply with the laws the game and conditions of play,
  • Ensure that the score card is returned to the second.

Strengths & Weaknesses It is imperative when building the head for the skip to know his players strengths and weaknesses and the bias dimensions of their bowls. Many skips are prone to call for a shot or shots based on their own ability and the track of their bowls.

The Accruing Score In Pennants the skip should be aware of the accruing score on the main scoring board, remembering that the team has a responsibility to the side and therefore should not adopt an over zealous attitude to the situation that will endanger the sides result.

Encouragement – The skip should endeavour not to display disappointment if a player performs a bad shot, but should always commend a player who plays a good shot. Try not to look worried in trying situations.

Qualities Expected Be in control of the team and process the following;

Communication Have good communication with the team by;

  • Ensuring the team understands the game plan,
  • Carrying out debriefings and constructing the game plan,
  • Ascertaining appropriate hand signals with the team,
  • Being positive with instructions,
  • Keeping directions short, simple and indicate correctly.

Tactics Being ingenious contrive and instigate tactical know how by;

  • Constructing a game plan before the game
  • Knowing and being able to read the head,
  • Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the team,
  • Ensuring you have control over mat placement and jack length,
  • Knowing and employing the tactics of the game,
  • Knowing when to play the opposition hand or shot,
  • Observing and where possible counter the tactical moves of the opposition.

Skills Improving your own ability to enable you when required to play;

  • Any of the shots of the game e.g. draw shot, on-shots, running and drive shots.

Avoid Detract yourself from being the main distraction to your team;

  • By raising your voice aggressively,
  • Moving around at the head when a player is on the mat,
  • Casting shade over the head.