Lawn bowls tips for leads
Take your lead play to the next lead will our tips. Play better, more consistently with our top drills
Being a lead of a bowls team requires focus, consistently, and selflessness. It is probably the second most important role after the skip and the lead battle will dictate how and where the game will be played.
If you are a lead, then here you will find hints and tips that will help improve your game.
Know your role
The best 4s teams with have all 4 players playing as one. Each performing a specific task to create the whole.
As a lead there are the obvious tasks of rolling jack, and playing the first two shots for your team. There are also the hidden tasks that a good lead will perform.
Rolling the jack is one of the most important tasks in the team (also the least practiced!). The jack length dictates how, and where the game will be played.
A good lead will also take into consideration the abilities of his own team and those of the opposition. If they start to struggle on a certain length, or if your team is working well you must hit those lengths.
A good lead will be guided through the thoughts of the skip, who has ultimate control of how he wants the team to play.
Finally the main role of the lead is to get shots in the head, working with the number 2 player to build a platform for the 3 and skip. Remember that the priority is to build the head, and not get shot (although that is handy)! A lead who constantly gets shots in the head will over the course of a game will be more valuable than an erratic lead who gets the occasional wonder shot.
Play your role
Knowing what your tasks are is the first step. Here are some tips on how to play the role.
Playing one side of the green. This is an ideal way to find consistency. When you choose a side you should find the swing required is very similar from both ends. This makes finding aiming points easier. The down side to this is you can be susceptible to your opponent putting in blocker shots if you get on top. Use the role up to look for side with biggest advantage. This doesn’t mean finding the “straightest side”, but the more consistent side. Remember the aim is to find consistency in everything you do.
Remember your role is to get your team into a solid foundation. That means you try to set the head up, and be selfless. For example if your opponent touches the jack, you should aim to get a couple of solid second shots. Your number 3 and skip will be aiming to remove the shot, you need to make sure you 1 limit the damage for an opponent second shot, and 2 be there to gain extra shots if your skip is able to take the shot.
No playing weight. A lead should never actively seek to play weight. Like the pawns is chess, you are there to sacrifice your shots for the betterment of the team.
Finally, if your opponent is on top, then mix up your game play. If you get the jack, change the length, or move the mat up. Keep mixing things up until your team dominant.
Aim for an area
Knowing that the aim of a lead is to get consistently in the head it helps to aim for an area, and not to land on the jack itself. This can help with “overcorrection issues, especially when dealing with only slight adjustments. Within 2 feet of the jack is an ideal area to aim for.
Do your drills
Practice makes perfect, but smart practice is better!
Land the mat
Outcome goal: To land as many shots as possible in the target area
The method: You will need 6 mats and 4 bowls for this exercise.
Place five mats as a target area at one end of the rink. This should be 3 mat lengths long (a weight target) and 2 mat lengths wide (a line target).
Use the 6th mat as a delivery mat and deliver your bowls aiming to get as many bowls in the target area as possible. Ensure you do two forehand and two backhand shots each end.
For a more detailed look at this drill please see the video below. This shows exactly how the mats should be laid out.
Repeat for multiple ends. Try moving your delivery mat and/or the target mats to replicate different lengths. Aim to practice on a good mix of lengths over the course of the session.
Practice jack rolling
Outcome goal: To be comfortable rolling a jack to any specific length.
The method: This exercise is as simple as getting a box of jacks and aiming for specific marks on the green.
We would recommend starting by placing a single marker down (a mat will be fine for this) and aiming to land on it with as many jacks as possible. This will replicate a game where your team is on top and you need to hit the same length to maintain the advantage.
Once you get the hang of this you can move onto placing multiple markers down, and aim to hit each one, one after another. This will emulate a game where you are trying to change lengths to throw your opponents off their game.
Get the right equipment
Once you have your core skills down you can take your game to a higher level with the right equipment.
Selecting a set of bowls with a narrow, consistent line will help you find those lines that draw to the jack.
We have an in-depth guide to the best bowls for leads, with a range of models and price points for you to select from.
A good lead is vital to any successful bowls team. By focusing on your basics you will always be putting your team in a great position. Offer that solid foundation and you will find success won’t be far behind.