Lawn bowls player positions guide
A guide to the different positions in a lawn bowls team. Improve your game by doing the things that matter for your team
When we take up bowls and start playing league games we all look to do what we can for our team. But how do you know what you’re “supposed” to be doing? And how do you know if you’re doing it well enough?
Today we hope to clarify what roles are required for a successful team, so you know what is expected of you next time you play.
Obviously there is more than one way to be successful, and roles can (and will) be interchangeable, however this is the likeliest team format you will see.
Defining player roles
When moving into a team format it’s important to have defined player roles. By working together you can operate as a single unit, moving together towards the goal - winning.
The roles follow the general advice on building an end. This goes:
- Get shots in the head. This is the basis on building an end. With shots in the head early you can open more options later
- Get good position. By getting good position, we can get bowls into areas that can either gain an advantage with attacking shots later in the end, or cover potentially dangerous areas This is covered in our guide on reading the head.
- Add/remove shots. This is the final element of building an end. By using the bowls in the head and the positional bowls shots can be saved and added through aggressive play.
These are the basic components required when building a team. We will break these down further as we define the specific roles.
For the purpose of this guide we will ignore basic game maintenance tasks, such as placing the mat, and centering the jack, as these don’t change, nor do they have an impact on the game itself.
How roles change
The more players in the team, the more specific the roles become. With fewer shots it’s important for a player to stick to a couple of key roles to fulfill.
For example, a lead is generally considered to be in the team to get shots in the head with a great draw shot. However in pairs, due to the extra bowls available, and with only one other player to help them, the lead will have to play other positional shots.
To describe the roles we will look at a team of fours. Each member of a fours team will only have one or two jobs to fulfill, and will only play a couple of shot types each.
By looking at a team with its duties spread out we can then see how those will look for other team formats.
Role of the skip
Leads the team, like a captain in football. They set the tone of how the team plays and will took to guide and encourage his team.
On top of leading the team’s mindset, the skip will guide the tactics of the team. This will include what jack lengths should be rolled, as well as guiding how aggressive his players play through the shots he asks to be played. The skip should continue with this through his own play.
A skip should be one of the best players in the team. He should be able to play any shot. This could include draw shots, or weighted drives to cut down losses, add shots, or to turn the head over.
Role of the third
Acts as the second in command, therefore he must be on the same wavelength as the skip to help guide him through the shots he must play.
Likely look to play good positional shot player. This will be to either build the head, cover exposed positions, or disturb an unfavorable head.
As the last player to play before the skip they must look to get the skip into the best position possible.
Role of the second
The second will work in tandem with the lead. His role is to further develop the head once the lead has done his job.
Will also have to back up his lead if the lead is unable to get shots in the head. His must be able to salvage bad position early in the end to lay the platform for the third and skip.
As this is a “head building” role, a second must be a fantastic draw player.
Role of the lead
The basic jobs of the lead are to: Roll the jack Get shots in the head
When rolling the jack the lead must be guided by the thoughts of the skip. It is vital that the jack is rolled to the length dictated by the skip. If not, the team’s game plan is wasted and the advantage is given to the opposition.
Once the jack is in place, the lead needs to get shots in the head. This builds a strong platform for the other players in the team to play for aggressive, higher reward shots.
In this role you doesn’t necessarily need to get the shot from your opposite number, but you should look to build good position.
Roles by game format
So we’ve gone over the roles, but how do you cover each role when you’re playing pairs? How best do you divide the roles between the players you do have?
Let’s take a look at the most common formats, and how we could split up the roles.
Let’s start with the easy one! Fours is the format with the most specialised roles. We can take the definitions above and assign them out to each team member.
In triples the role of the skip will remain the same, with the number 2 in the triples team acting like a “Number 3” outlined above.
We will have to split the role of the “Number 2” across the lead and 2.
The role of a triples “Number 2” is therefore quite demanding and the role will vary from end to end.
At face value assigning roles across the the pair should be straight forward. However, it’s not as simple as the lead taking the role of the number two and the skip taking the role of the number three.
The number three role will be split amongst the pair. The skip will need to play more positional shots to help later, more aggressive, shots.
When you’re playing singles you really are on your own! You have responsibility for all the roles, and with so few bowls per end you need to choose your shots wisely.
This was a brief look at team play, and roles needed. Much more could be written for each specific role, as well as how they interact with each other, however we just wanted to provide a high level view on how we think bowls is played
As mentioned before, this is only a suggestion and there are many ways to win a game of bowls. But the next time you are in a game, look at what is being asked of you in your role, and see if you can work out which roles you are fulfilling.