How To Play A Yard-On Shot In Lawn Bowls | A Helpful Illustrated Guide

  • By: Reece Williams
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The yard-on shot is one of the productive shots to play in lawn bowls, but is the hardest to master. My guide will help you to play the shot better.

How To Play A Yard-On Shot In Lawn Bowls | A Helpful Illustrated Guide

The yard-on shot is one of the productive shots to play in lawn bowls.

A good yard-on shot can build a lead, or overturn a loss, whilst still have the benefit of working for you even if you miss the mark.

It is also one of the trickiest to learn and master. I hope this guide will give you a good overview of what it is, how it’s played, and how to practice to improve.

What is a “yard on” shot?

The yard-on is a weighted shot designed to disrupt either the bowls in the head or the jack. As the name suggests it is played at a similar weight to a draw, but with “a yeard extra pace”.

The weight is designed to be enough to disturb the head, whilst also aiming to rest the bowl in the head once it makes contact with another bowl.

The difficulty in the shot is found in the selected weight. With a full drive (where you bowl as fast as you can) you can aim directly at your target as the bowl won’t slow down enough to turn. However, as the “yard-on” is similar to a draw, the bowl will not travel fast enough to prevent it from turning. Therefore you need to account for some minimal turn when selecting your line.

Often bowlers will have trouble with this shot because of difficulties selecting the line and will deliver too narrow. The shot will then miss the intended target.

Why play a “yard-on” shot

It’s used to either add shots or cut down a loss. The ideal outcome is to either remove an opponents bowl to improve a count, or to “rest out” the shot bowl.

The “yard-on” can be safer than a full drive as if you miss you can still get a good back position in the head.

Risks of playing the “yard on” shot

Simply put, it’s much harder to play than a full-drive. A full-on drive will be delivered so fast that the bowl won’t have time to slow down and bend. It’s possible with a full-on drive is to aim directly at your target.

A yard-on shot will still slow and bend, but because of the extra weight, you will not be able to use your existing aiming points. Some adjustments will be required. A yad-on shot is usually a one-off, so you will rarely get a chance to adjust with a second attempt.

Also, as you are aiming to go through the head, you can make contact with your own bowls, and put yourself in a worse position.

With the full-drive you can play it with a “hit and hope” mindset (there is an element of luck in that sense), whereas with the “yard-on” you can make minor adjustments to the head, but can have major consequences.

How to play the “yard-on” shot

As with any shot in bowls, it comes down to line, and weight. You need to select the correct line, to account for the bias, and with the correct “yard-on” weight. Not enough weight and you could end up short of the head (i.e., not make it to the target) and look rather silly.

Aiming points and line control

The hardest part of the yard-on is selecting the aiming point. A slightly narrower line from your usual draw will be required as the bowl will hold its line a bit.

Great line control will be required to play this shot. If you do have trouble with line control, see our guide here.

Ideally, you will choose to play the shot on the straighter hand based on how the green has been playing. This side will require less of an adjustment.

Most bowlers will be too scared of missing on the wide side, but end up very narrow. Unless you are using a “swingy” model of bowl, there should only be a slight adjustment needed.

There is a benefit to “getting to know” your bowls in order to find the correct line. Some models start to turn much earlier than others. The earlier they turn the less of an adjustment is needed.

Weight control

You are not aiming to smash the head to pieces! As the name suggests you need to be able to play a slightly heavier weight than your draw shot.

Having good weight control is beneficial here. You can check out our guide to weight control here.

The ideal weight is as if you are bowling to a “back position” on the head.


I’ve split this into two sections. The first is getting the fundamentals of your weight and line right – as this will affect the aiming points used in the second set of drills.

Weight adjustment

Adding weight drill

This is a favourite of mine – and is covered in our guide to weight control.

The drill is simple:

  • bowl a single shot at a comfortable weight.
  • each subsequent shot should be a yard further on than the last
  • The additional weight should not affect the line of the bowl, so if you miss your line, this counts as a “fail”

This will improve your ability to add the right amount of weight, whilst maintaining your form and technique.


This drill is similar to the target practice used in my line control guide, but with a slight twist.

The drill is as follows:

  • Add 4 markers on the green.
  • Each one will be a line to aim for.
  • Attempt to deliver a bowl over each marker with one shot each.
  • Only take one attempt on each target to simulate the single attempt nature of this shot.

Situational drills

I’m a big fan of situational drills. Too often bowlers practice to bare jacks, but how often do you get this in a real game? If you play skip and need to play these sorts of shots regularly the answer is “never”.

Firstly, you need to set up real-life scenarios.

Resting Takeout

The easiest way to do this is if you missed a “yard-on” shot in a game the week before, try and recreate the head. You will need a spare set of bowls to do this.

Even if it’s not the full thing, just the core 3 or 4 bowls will do. If you can’t think of one try creating a target of 3 bowls in a row. This will give you a large target to practice with. As you get better reduce this to 2 bowls, and then finally reduce to 1.

The aim of this drill is to hit the target, but a core skill you will learn is to work out how your bowls react to extra weight. When do they start turning? How much weight do I need to keep them running straight?

Eventually, with these target practices, you will be able to instinctively know how much to adjust your line to play your “yard-on” shots.