The stance is one of the key components in your lawn bowls delivery. It affects so many aspects of your game, including line and weight control. Which one is best for you? Here is my guide to the best lawn bowls stances.
Getting your technique right is a constant battle – at least it is for me – and one of the main issues is getting the stance right.
The stance is vital in a good lawn bowls technique. It lines you up with your chosen line, and it is the starting point for delivering your bowl at the right weight. Getting a stance that works for you will set you up for all the things to come.
But what is the best stance? And which is right for you? This is what this guide will help you find out.
What is a lawn bowls stance?
Firstly, lets define the terms. What is a lawn bowls stance? Simply put, the “stance” is the position you take on the mat before you begin your delivery action.
The stance happens after the the per-mat routine. The two steps should flow naturally, so the end of the pre-mat routine should be “stepping onto the mat into the stance”.
Types of stance
There are a couple of types of stance. One element is how you place your feet (shooter stance or square on stance), and the second element is how you bend your legs (upright stance and crouched stance). Obviously, your stance will be a combination of the two – e.g. upright shooter stance.
Lets look at each of those elements in turn, and see what the pros and cons are of each.
The first stance I wanted to mention is the Shooter Stance.
The Shooter Stance is about foot placement, with the idea being that the back foot is placed at around 90 degree angle. This is much like a shooter (hence the name). Below is an example foot placement of a right handed bowler playing a forehand shot.
As you can see the left foot is pointing down the line of the shot, and the back foot is placed around 90 degrees from the front foot.
The main benefit from this stance is the improved balance. With the back foot taking most of the body weight, it is easier to keep your balance as the foot is able to stop you from toppling over. This is compared to a more “traditional” stance, where the back foot is also pointing down the delivery line.
The “side on” foot placement gives a wider base, which allows for the improvement of balance.
You can see a full guide to the shooter stance here.
Square on stance
This is the far more traditional approach.
The Square on stance is where both feet are placed side-by-side. They don’t necessarily have to be touching, but it is often taught that way.
Below is an example foot placement. Again, like demonstrated above, this is for a right handed bowler, bowling on the forehand.
The main benefit from this is it can feel more natural. The bowling delivery is effectively a step forward, and this treats it as such. The key to getting this working in practice is to ensure your hips are also square on, as this is a better guide on where you are going to step forward.
Now we have the foot placement options out the way – lets look at the rest of the body!
As the name suggests, the up right stance is where you stand fully upright as you prepare for your delivery. This is the most common approach taught to new bowlers.
The idea behind it is it’s a more natural starting point for a “step forward”. From an upright position you are also able to generate more force through the bowl, which is why it is frequently taught in the UK where greens can be slower.
It could also be argued that you can better judge the length of a jack from an upright position, as the higher angle gives a better perspective – but this is likely just personal opinion rather than fact!
The main draw back for the upright stance is it can affect your balance as you move forward. There are extra forces on the torso as you move down towards the release point that can make it slightly trickier to keep your balance consistent from each delivery.
Finally, on indoor rinks, and fast outdoor greens the up right stance can make weight control tricky. The extra force that naturally comes from the up right start can add extra weight onto the shot, even when you are trying to take it off.
The term “crouched stance” covers anything from a slight bend of the knees, to being practically on the ground. Essentially, the crouched position is where you bring your body closer to the ground by bending at the knee and hips.
This will feel far more natural for some bowlers, which is why it can be tricky to “unlearn” it.
The main benefits of the crouched stance is it makes your delivery more compact. By that I mean, there are less moving parts, and your step forward will be far more controlled. A crouched stance often (but not always!) leads to a simpler, more repeatable delivery stride.
However, the main draw back is it can be hard to perfectly repeat the exact same knee bend. There is often a difference in how low you get each time – which can affect your “repeatability”.
How to choose a stance
There are a couple of key points you need to consider when choosing what stance you are going to take. These are:
- the surface you are playing on
- what feels natural
Lets look at those in a bit more detail.
Types of surfaces
The surface you play on will have an effect as to the type of stance you take. For example, if you are playing on a fast outdoor green then an upright stance will not help. You will find you struggle to keep the weight off your shots. However, on a wet green in April in the UK you will struggle to reach with a crouched position.
What feels natural
The best way to a repeatable action is to do what feels natural. Sure, you can hone and perfect your delivery from there, but the foundation should be comfortable.
If you step onto the mat with feet side-by-side, then go with it! Conversely, if your feet naturally point outwards, then the side-by-side approach will feel uncomfortable.
Many bowlers have mobility issues – so performing certain actions may just be impossible.
If you aren’t capable of crouching down, then stick with an upright stance.
What stance is best for you
My recommendation is to consider those last three points in this order:
- Mobility – if something isn’t possible because you can’t do it safely, then this should come first
- What feels natural – being comfortable on the mat is key. You need to feel relaxed and focused. Doing something that feels strange will not help you
- The surface you are playing on – this can be done on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you naturally stand up right, and the green is running fast you might consider taking a slightly crouched stance. This should be practiced, of course, but adjusting your stance to the elements can be helpful
Your stance is the foundation of your delivery action, so great care and thought should go into how you go about it.
My recommendation is to consider your mobility, and then what feels natural first. Any “pros and cons” and adjustments can be made from there.