Lawn bowls is an inclusive sport, suitable for all. It is ideal way to keep active for those who may be getting on in years, or those who are not fully mobile. There are numerous aids to help everyone enjoy the game together.
In this article I will be going through the most popular aids that you will find at most bowls clubs, that comply with all the rules of lawn bowls. Hopefully this will give you an insight as to what is possible, and how you can continue playing and enjoying a game of bowls.
The most common aid you will find at club level are lifters.
As the name suggests lifters are used to help lift bowls off the ground. They don’t help with the actual delivery of the bowl, but it they will help reduce the amount of bending over required throughout a game.
A lifter consists of a handle with two hoops sticking out the bottom (see the photo above for an example). The idea is that you “scoop up” the bowl from underneath. From there you can lift the bowl into your spare hand.
The second smaller loop is for the jack. This can be used to pick the jack up, or to move it around when centring it.
Sticks and Green Protectors
Many bowlers find the action of bowling fine, but getting up and down the green can be an issue.
Of course, a standard walking stick is not allowed on a green as it would create divots as you walk along. This is where specialist sticks and “green protectors” come in handy.
These are either a specialist stick which has a wide base, or more commonly, an additional green protector which you can attach to the bottom of your own walking stick.
In both cases, the additional surface area created prevents damage to the green as you place weight on your stick.
These sticks can also be used as you bowl. This helps those with balance issues, and can help prevent serious injury during the bowling action.
The final option for those with mobility issues is a bowling arm.
Bowling arms look a lot like a standard bowls lifter, but instead of just lifting the bowl, the bowling arm will allow the user to deliver the bowl from a standing position.
Bowling arms have several uses. A bowler needs to be able to bend down not only to deliver the bowl but also to pick up and place the mat. The clamp of the bowling arm should accommodate both the bowl and the much smaller jack because bowlers have to be able to pick up the jack and deliver it down the green.
A bowl can also be correctly aligned in a cradle, and then the arm is clamped over it to lift it out of the cradle while maintained the aligned position. You hold the arm at a slightly forward angle when picking up the bowl so that the jaws fit appropriately in the correct alignment.
Bowling arms are far more popular in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Australia, however they are permitted in all countries for competitive games, so there is no excuse not to use one.
You can find a full guide on how to use a lawn bowling arm here.
Many bowlers quit the game too early as they find they struggle to keep up with the physical side of the game. This is a real shame as with a few additional bits of equipment they could get many more years of enjoyment from the sport.
There are many options for bowlers who have mobility issues. From a simple lifter to help get your bowls off the ground, all the way to the bowling arm for those who struggle to bend down, there is something out there to help you.