Understanding the different types of shots in bowls is a fundamental in playing the game. It enables you to clearly decide what shot you want to play, and also understand what shot is being asked of you.
The most basic shot in the game is the “draw”. In this guide I will go through what it is, how to play it, and when to play it.
Once you have a good understanding of the draw shot you can better incorporate it into your game. So lets take a look…
What is a draw shot?
A draw shot is played with the intention of getting as close to the jack as possible. It is the first shot you learn, but is one of the hardest to master.
A draw shot can be played in either the backhand or the forehand depending on the bowler’s preference, and the situation of the end.
The shot is played so that the line brings you directly to the centre line of the rink (assuming the jack hasn’t moved) and is played “dead weight” so that it ends up at the exact length of the jack.
The ideal outcome of a draw shot is when the bowl rests directly on the jack, although simply getting closer than your opponent is a more likely aim.
When to play a draw shot
There are a couple of reasons why you would want to play the draw shot. These include:
- building position
- cutting down a loss
- win an end late on
Lets look at each of these in turn.
The draw shot is best played when you have a free path to the jack. This makes it tricky later in ends when many bowls can end up short and blocking a way to the jack. Several draw shots can be combined together to create good positions around the jack.
Because of this it is best to play the draw shot early in ends. This is because fewer bowls will be in the way, and you can get a good position early which can be exploited later in an end.
Cutting down a loss
Often in bowls you just have a bad end. In these scenarios the best you can hope for is to not loose the end by too many!
In this situation the draw shot can be used by a skip to cut the opponents count down.
For example, if you are down by 6 shots, you can draw in closer than 4 of those and therefore only loose the end by 2. Whilst allowing your opponent to have 2 shots isn’t a great tactic in the long run, it’s certainly better than giving them 6.
Bowlers often see skips as players who can win you a game, however this often happens in cutting down losses, rather than adding shots to winning positions.
Winning an end late on/adding shots
The best way to win and end is with the last bowl, as it means your opponent can’t do anything about it! This is when the draw shot is used to win an end at the death to win a losing end.
If you are down by 1 or 2 you may play the draw shot in a final attempt to nick the shot from your opponent.
Conversely, if you are in a winning position and are holding 1 or 2, a draw shot is played to add an extra.
Whilst the extra 1 may seem insignificant, these can add up over a game.
How to play a draw shot
Now we understand what the draw shot is, as well as when to play it, its time to look at how to play it.
Choose which hand to play
Firstly, you need to decide which hand to play – the forehand or the backhand.
Your choice will depend on a couple of factors:
- whether there is a path to the jack. If the is a short bowl which is sat right on the line your bowl normally takes, its usually best to avoid that hand.
- which hand do you feel most comfortable with. Some bowlers feel better bowling on one hand over the other. If this is a high pressure shot you may want to stick with what is most comfortable for you
- which side of the green do you know best. If you are lead you will probably be sticking to one side of the green. If you have played similar shots earlier in the game its usually best to stick to what you know
It will come down to your personal decision, and no one factor is a complete “red flag” to avoid. For example, you can try to draw around any short bowls if needed, or you can switch to the side of a green you haven’t played yet. It will come down to the match situation.
Its best to visualise your shot before you take your stance on the mat.
This step is important, as it clarifies in your mind exactly what you are trying to do. There is nothing worse than being caught in two minds whilst your playing your shot.
To visualise, try to imagine the path the bowl will take, using all the experience you have of your bowls, and how the green has behaved throughout the game. This will also help with the next steps of alignment and aiming points.
Align yourself on the mat
Now you are sure where you want the bowl to go its time to get on the mat and align yourself with the shot.
This step will come down to your personal style and stance. You can find more information on stances and alignment on my guide to the best stances in lawn bowls.
Focus on the aiming point
Finally, you now have your alignment to your line, you just need to focus on the weight of the shot.
This can be done in several ways, but the way I like to do it is by using an aiming point that is “jack high” on my target line.
You can find out more on what to use as your aiming point in my guide here.
The draw shot is a shot played to rest as close to the jack as possible.
To achieve this you must bowl your shot along the correct line so it finishes on the centre line, and with “dead weight” so it finishes jack high.
It is the first shot you learn, and the last to master!