The 4 Different Types Of Shots In Lawn Bowls | A Complete Guide

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

Understanding the different types of shots is integral to developing your lawn bowls game. Knowing what the shots are, how they are used, and why they are used is the first step in creating an all round game.

Different shots are used in different circumstances of a game, and a bit like a golfer selects his club, so must you select the right shot for the job at hand.

Of course, learning how to effectively play the shots, and getting the intuition for when to play them is a skill in itself, but for this guide I will cover the 4 shots used in lawn bowls and why you need to learn them.

The different types of shots

There are 4 different shots in lawn bowls:

  • the draw
  • the yard-on
  • the running
  • the drive

Lets take a look at each in a bit more detail.


The draw shot is the first shot any bowler is taught. The aim of the draw shot is simple – get as close to the jack as possible.

The draw shot is played by delivering the bowl so that it curves to the centre of the rink and rolling it with enough weight so that it stops at the exact distance to the jack. This is the fundamentals of line and length.

The draw shot doesn’t always have to be aimed at the jack however. A draw shot can be played anywhere on the rink to fulfil a roll in the overall tactics of a game. A common example is drawing around behind the jack as a defensive move (just in case the jack gets knocked backwards).

To successfully play a draw shot the bowler must have perfect line and weight control. The key to a great lawn bowler is having the consistency of these two skills to draw in multiple times in a row.

You can find out more in my guide to the draw shot.


As the name suggests, the aim of the yard-on shot is to play a draw, but with a bit of extra weight – enough to make the bowl roll an extra yard beyond the jack.

The yard-on shot is the first of the three weighted shots. The aim for any weighted shot is to reach the head with enough force to move something – whether that be the jack, or an opponent’s bowl.

The yard-on is the one played with the least extra weight. Often the yard-on shot is used to just nudge the jack to improve its position or to rest on an opponent’s bowl.

The yard-on shot is played by delivering the bowl so that the line takes it slightly narrowly, so the bowl finishes slightly across the other side of the head, and with enough weight to finish a yard behind the jack.

This combination of slightly narrow line and a touch extra weight means the bowl will hit the centre of the rink just as it reaches its target.

You can find out more in my guide to the yard-on shot.


The running shot is a weighted shot that is played with enough weight to go 3 or 4 yards beyond the jack. It is often referred to as playing “ditch weight” as the bowl ideally is played so that it stops just before it lands in the ditch.

Much like the yard-on shot, the running shot is played with a narrower line than that used for a draw shot, and with an extra 3 or 4 yards of weight (or enough to reach the ditch).

The difficulty in these first two weighted shots is judging the line you need to take. You need to play it slightly narrowly, as the bowl won’t have time to bend fully. This judgement will depend heavily on:

  • the type of bowl you use – some bend earlier than others
  • the condition of the rink – some greens bend more than others
  • how much weight you add – the more weight you add to the shot the less the bowl will bend

You will hone your judgement of weighted shots the more you play. Eventually you will get a rough feel for where you need to aim.


The drive shot is played with as much force as possible. The drive will end up in the ditch, and is the “heaviest” of the 3 weighted shots in lawn bowls.

The drive can be played with an extremely narrow line – and can often be bowled directly towards the target. The drive is played with as much weight as possible.

The drive is played when you need to really move stuff around! Situations where you may play the drive are:

  • you need to knock the jack in the ditch/off the rink
  • you are down by a lot and you need to move as much as possible
  • The only way to reach the head is by going straight up the middle (usually because of short bowls in the way either side

The drive can be aimed directly at the target (which may be the jack or another bowl) as it is played with so much weight that it doesn’t get the chance to slow down and bend before it reaches it’s target.

Whilst the extra weight makes it easier to spot your line, it makes up the difficulty by making it hard to control where you bowl it!

How to choose which to play?

There are several factors which go into deciding which shot to play. These include:

  • at what point of the end you are playing – if at the beginning of the end you will almost certainly be drawing
  • what you are hoping to gain – weighted shots can help gain shots as they can move your opponent’s bowls out of the way
  • what you are afraid to lose – the more weight you add the more damage you can do, which can go either way
  • what is in your way – if you want to play weight, but there are bowls in the middle of the rink you won’t be able to play the drive, as it wouldn’t be able to get to the target

Shot selection will come down to experience and personal preference as to how you want to play the game.

You can find out more by reading my guide on shot selection.


The 4 types of shots in lawn bowls are the draw shot, the yard-on shot, the running shot, and the drive.

It takes years to learn each one, especially if you consider you may need to learn them on the forehand and the backhand, however, you may only need a couple depending on what roll you play in your teams.

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Get The Complete Lawn Bowls Drill Pack

The Jack High Bowls Drill Pack is available now for instant download.

Perfect for beginners and improving players looking to be more consistent and win more games!