The grip is possibly the most important – and under appreciated – part of delivering a bowl. Your fingers will be the last thing to influence a bowl before it begins its journey up the green. A perfect delivery and be ruined by a poor grip.
So it is understandable how many bowlers get annoyed and frustrated when they can’t hold their bowl properly.
There are three main ways to improve the grip on a lawn bowl:
- Change your grip
- Use a grip enhancer
- Change your bowls
Lets take a closer look at this issue.
Signs You Have Issues With Your Grip
The signs that you are having issues with t=your grip on your bowls include:
- you drop them – either during the backswing, or just before release
- the bowl wobbles as it starts up the rink
- your fingers hurt, or issues get worse throughout a game
- you find you have to bend your wrist to keep the bowl in your fingers
You Drop Them
This is the most obvious, and most extreme sign your grip is wrong. The problem here is that your grip is so poor you can’t even hold it in your hand easily.
There are two common times when a bowl is dropped
- during the backswing of a delivery
- just before release
The first of these is far more embarrassing, as you watch your bowl either tamely flop on the floor, or (much worse) fly backwards towards other bowlers on the rink. Not fun.
The other time a bowl is likely to be dropped is just before the bowl is released. This is an issue because when the bowl is “dropped” it thuds into the ground. This takes away a lot of pace off the bowl, and it can also affect the line the bowl will travel.
In both situations you want to improve your grip so you can successfully control the bowl through the delivery action.
The Bowl Wobbles
Ah, the dreaded wobble. This is when the bowl comes out of the hand and instead of going down the green straight down the line, the running surface “wobbles” for the first few meters.
The problem is caused by the bowl not being released correctly, which is caused by a poor, or incorrect grip on the bowl.
The problem with a wobbling bowl is similar to a dropped bowl. As the bowl is not traveling along its running surface correctly it will loose energy – lost in the extra friction on the ground – affecting the weight of the shot, and the wobble will prevent the bias acting as it should which will affect the line of the bowl.
In this case you want to correct this to keep every shot performing the same.
Your Fingers Hurt/Issues Get Worse
Another sign you are having issues with your grip is when you notice issues as a game progresses. This can include your fingers hurting, or possibly one of the other signs outlined above.
This is a sign you are working hard to hold on to the bowl, as things get worse as your muscles start to get tired.
You will want to fix this so that your delivery is consistent through out the game. This will allow you to finish a game as strongly as you start it.
Needing to Bend Your Wrist
Cocking your wrist is also a sure fire sign you can’t hold the bowl correctly. In an ideal world your arm and wrist should be relaxed and loose – as this helps weight control.
However in those with poor grips they find the only way to hold a bowl through the backswing is to cock the wrist in order to cradle it through the delivery action.
Doing this is not only incredibly uncomfortable, it is a one way ticket to injuring yourself – not to mention the impact it will have on your line and weight control.
How To Improve Your Grip
Here are my three tips for improving your grip on your lawn bowls.
Change Your Grip
The first port of call is to ensure you are holding the bowl correctly. In incorrect grip is a common cause of “bowl wobble” and other issues related to consistently releasing the bowl correctly.
There are many ways to hold a bowl, and the one you need will depend on what feels natural to you, as well as other factors such as weather (wet bowls are harder to hold!).
You can find my guide on the best lawn bowls grips here.
Use A Grip Enhancer
You can improve your grip by using a grip enhancer. These are products (often in gel, or wax form) that you can apply on your bowls, hands, and fingers to help make them slightly “tacky”.
Common brands like Grippo and Crack-a-Jack are common in bowls clubs around the world. They are inexpensive and easy to get hold of, which makes them a great option for those after a quick boost in their grip.
This tackiness helps you hold the bowl, especially when the weather is bad and the rain makes the bowl slippery.
You can find my guide on the best grip enhancers here.
Change Your Bowl
If you have tried all the above, and you are still struggling with gripping your bowls, then the last straw is to look at changing them.
The issue with using a bowl too big for your hand is that you will constantly struggle to maintain control of it through your action. A bowl that is too big will show all of the characteristics of a gripping issue – such as being dropped, coming out wrong and wobbling, and causing pain/discomfort in your fingers.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is buying a set of bowls too big for your hands, so check out my guide on what size lawn bowls to use.
The grip is a key part to your delivery technique. Most of the common issues faced by bowlers can be traced back to the grip.
SO be sure you are:
- using the best grip method for you hands
- using an adequate gripping product
- using a set of bowls the correct size for your hands