A good lawn bowls delivery will only have a handful of key ideas. Here is my list of 5 common lawn bowls delivery faults, and how to fix them.
Getting your delivery technique right is the easy part in lawn bowls. The hard part is doing it repeatedly every shot!
We all know what it feels like – you play 2 or 3 shots well, but for some reason the next one doesn’t go down the right line, or pulls up short despite the fact you thought you did everything the same.
These issues are usually caused by some small fault in your action that leads to the inconsistent release.
Here are 5 common lawn bowls delivery faults – and how to fix them!
#1 Wobbling bowl on release
This is one of the most common issues for beginner bowlers who are finding their feet.
The issue is immediately after the release the bowl appears to “wobble” – the best place to see this is on the grips of the bowl. The bowl will then straighten slightly and then continue on it’s way.
This is a problem as it can affect line and weight. The line is affected as the bowl can grip onto a different line than the one it was delivered on, and the weight is affected as a wobbling bowl causes more friction on the ground along the running surface which takes some of the energy out of the bowl.
The wobbling bowl is usually caused by the grip. The bowl isn’t released with the running surface directly down the release line, which in turn means the bowl isn’t perfectly perpendicular to the line of travel.
To fix this, reassess your grip. It could be a slight alignment of the bowl in the hand, or possibly the placement of the fingers along the running surface.
Try a few things out on the practice greens, and ask your club coach if you are still having issues.
#2 Bouncing the bowl on delivery
A “bounced delivery” is when the bowl is released slightly too early and the bowl thuds into the ground before carrying on along the delivery line.
As you can imagine the issue with a bounced bowl is that a lot of the energy is lost when it hits the ground which causes the bowl to pull up short. For those who do this often, there is a secondary issue: it makes it harder to judge weight for the times you do release the bowl smoothly.
The cause is a timing issue in the delivery. This may not just be about the point of release, but is often how the step and the backswing interact. To overcome this issue go for a roll up and practice at a comfortable weight (this issue often gets worse the more weight you apply to the bowl) and focus on a smooth action and release.
#3 Stepping across the line
“Stepping across the line” is when your leading foot doesn’t step towards the aiming point. This is common on backhand shots where the foot steps across the body – towards the jack instead of the aiming point. This can also happen in the opposite way on a forehand where the foot steps towards the jack and not the aiming line.
In both scenarios this mis placement of the foot leads to narrow shots. The bowl ends up going towards the jack and not the desired line. This can sometimes be compounded by the player trying to compensate for the misplaced foot by delivering the bowl at an angle – this can be a problem as the misplaced foot can be an intermittent issue, and this causes a lot of confusion and frustration as to why the bowler is missing their line.
The cause of this is likely an alignment issue on the mat. Many coaches recommend focusing on the feet to arrange the alignment, however my recommendation is to focus on the hips, as this will guide where the foot steps. If you stand square on to your target line (with feet side by side) then ensure your hips are fully square to the line. If you use the shooter stance then the alignment will come from your front hip.
Play around with this on the practice greens and ask your club coach if you still have issues.
#4 Incorrect weight distribution
Having an incorrect weight distribution is when you aren’t balanced in your delivery stance. This can be in any direction (weight too much on either foot, too much on your toes, or too much on your heels). This causes a bunch of issues through the delivery action.
The issues caused by incorrect weight distribution will depend on where your weight goes:
- too far either side makes it tricky to balance through the shot and can affect your step, and line control
- too far back and you will have trouble reaching on longer jacks as you will find it hard to bring your weight through
- too far forward and you will over balance on delivery which can cause weight and line issues (this can be seen when the bowler can’t help but walk off the mat after delivery)
The recommendation is to have slightly more weight on the anchor foot in the delivery stance – however simply being aware of your balance, and how it is affecting the delivery is important. Much like many of these issues practice this during a roll up, and focus on a smooth and controlled action. You can then adjust for different weighted shots after
#5 Twisting the hand on release
The final issue I wanted to raise is twisting the hand on release. When delivering the bowl it is ideal to keep your palm facing up and your fingers pointing towards the target point. This gives your body the best chance to deliver the bowl along the correct line. Sometimes a bowler will twist their hand after releasing the bowl, and is often paired with a twisting/bending of the arm.
Twisting your hand and arm can lead to bowls going across the body (narrow on the forehand and wide on the back hand), as even though the bowl has left the hand, the twisting often starts very suitley whilst you still have control of the bowl.
To fix this focus on raising your hand with your palm up and fingers pointing to the target line. Try to hold this pose for a second before standing back up. This will train the mind to bring the arm through straight.
Obviously, there are far more common faults, but these are either ones I have seen regularly or have had myself!
These things are quite logical once you break them down. I do suggest trying things for yourself to see if you can diagnose the problem – but always ask the help of a qualified coach if you are still struggling.