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The game of bowls is a sport with origins dating back to the 14th century. A number also knows of other names, like lawn bowls, green bowls, and grass bowls. It’s a challenging sport that involves accuracy, strategy, and technique. The sport is played either as singles or in teams of four players (with partners switching after each end) on an outdoor grass surface or indoor mat green. There are variations, like indoor bowlers, which use smaller bowling surfaces. Whatever version you prefer, there are some key things to know about the game before you become an expert on its nuances.
A Short History of Lawn Bowls
The origins of lawn bowls date back to the 14th century when people played the game on natural grassland called a “moor.” The term “moor” comes from the Middle English word “mor” which translates to “soft ground.” Mowing the “moor” was a regular job for villagers. When they cut the grass, it made a perfect playing surface for lawn bowls.
The game was played using hand-made wooden bowls with rounded bottoms and no sides. Back then, the goal was to get your bowl as close to the “tee” (a wooden peg in the ground that marked the start of the playing area) as possible. Bowls still have their roots in this “tee-less” game, but the rules for modern lawn bowls have evolved significantly since then.
Equipment and Rules
The equipment you need to play bowls includes the bowls themselves, a ball, a bowls mat, and a set of bowls boards.
Bowls Mat: The mat is a rectangular piece of cloth or synthetic material on which you stand while bowling. Bowls Boards: These are wooden boards on which you rest your bowls when not rolling them.
Bowls: Bowls are the containers you use to roll the ball. Bowls are made from wood, plastic, or laminated paper.
Ball: The ball used in lawn bowls is more significant than a standard ball used in other sports like tennis or boccia. There are different variations of lawn bowls balls depending on the type of game you are playing. Bowls are the containers you use to roll the ball. Bowls are made from wood, plastic, or laminated paper.
Scoring: The scoring for bowling is much different than for other sports. You don’t get points for getting the ball into the goal. Instead, you’re awarded points for getting your bowl to be closest to the jack(the smaller ball in the game).
Types of Games You Can Play
Here are some types of bowls plays you can try:
- Wooden Spoon: This is a game where the last-place team plays each other.
- Last Man Standing – This is a game where the last person left on the team stays.
- King of the Hill – This game where the team with the highest score stays on the green.
- Round Robin – Players bowl once, and the person with the lowest score is eliminated from the group.
- Shoot Out – This is a game where team members bowl one bowl each, and the team with the nearest bowl to the jack wins.
How to Bowl
Start with lining up your feet with either the inside or outside edge of the bowling board.
Bend your knees slightly, pivot your hips and upper body toward the direction of the bowl, and then shift your weight onto the ball of your foot.
Slide the bowl along the mat (with the inside edge of the bowl on the mat) toward the jack ball.
If you are right-handed, your bowling hand will be on the mat to the left of the jack ball, and your non-bowling hand will be on the right side of the jack ball.
If you are left-handed, your bowling hand will be on the right side of the jack ball, and your non-bowling hand will be on the left side of the jack ball.
Strategies to Win
If there's one skill you should have, it's footwork.
Bowlers using a modern delivery will start from a balanced, sideways foot position with their feet equidistant from the mat. Bowlers then push off the foot furthest from the mat (the inside foot) and transfer their weight onto the close foot.
Once the weight is transferred, the inside foot will be lifted and moved forward to a position alongside or behind the outside foot. As the inside foot slides forward, it should be slightly angled toward the direction of the bowl, which helps create a smooth, fluid delivery.
Finding a Line
Line and length are two essential factors of successful bowling. A bowler with the mastery of line and length can be an outstanding player and seem unbeatable. Every bowler must learn how to use this strategy in lawn bowls.
The line is where the bowl takes from the point of release and the location it stops. Bowlers also need to choose the destination of their shot and their opponent’s with consideration to a displaced jack on the green. The jack in its original position is usually centered on a specific distance, which is the concept of the theory of line.
The bowl will successfully arrive at the jack with the correct line and length. The arc of the bowl is the sideways pull of the bowl that produces the bias that has an effect on its forward momentum. The momentum of bowls reaches its peak during the early stages of the shot, its weakest is at the influence of the bias, and the arc is at its minimum.
As the bowl slows down at the end of the impact of the discrimination, the arc will become more evident.
Bowling to Length
The most challenging part of the game is to bowl with the desired length, and there are many factors on the green that you need to consider. Once you find the path, you need to be consistent with the shots to deliver a proper positional bowl that follows a line. In determining a new line, you need to factor in the inside or outside line to the jack.
To be successful with bowling to length, there are technical demands that you also need to consider. The force you use when you bowl dictates the success of every shot you make. The right amount of force you take will also vary with the line and length of the jack, which changes every successful possession.
The weight of your every shot must have the proper control to achieve the correct stance and delivery. You must also know your capacity to grip the bowl firmly for proper delivery and pace. With touch shots, you need to loosen the grip and add a slight caress during your picture. The cradle grip is a more relaxed way of releasing the bowl.
You can determine the length of your next shot with two factors—the resistance and propulsion of your shots. It would be best if you decided how your bowl reacts to the resistance it may encounter on the surface. It varies widely from different surfaces of the competition, which also affects its propulsion.
Once you know what will affect your shot, you need to implement the proper force for propulsion to reach the desired length on different surfaces.
It is essential never to curtail the follow-through shots because it does not impart the weight factor. Follow the line to make every attempt successful.
Lawn bowls is a coactive sport that involves teams that take turns to play games, unlike other sports such as basketball, where all players would engage continuously, which makes game planning an essential part of winning lawn bowls. The team would formulate game plans to execute every possession with the commitment of every member successfully.
A game plan includes the tactics on how to win the game. Its simplicity can provide less pressure to the players in executing, while a high-detailed play will give players confusion and failure of execution.
A good game plan will allow sudden changes to improve strategies between plays. The team’s flexibility will help them win the game by coordinating properly with co-bowlers.
Game planning also includes masking the team’s weaknesses. Identifying these weaknesses leads to more practice and improvement for the whole team. The team must pay attention to every member’s skills and replace their defects with strengths.
The Importance of Footwork and Progression
The key to success in lawn bowls is learning to use the inside foot to propel the bow, a technique called “inside foot progression,” which is essential in mastering the lawn bowl technique.
If you’re new to lawn bowls, you will likely start by using your outside foot to push the bowl, which is a common mistake that can be corrected by practicing the inside foot progression technique and building the strength and control needed to use your inside foot.
Lawn bowls are a challenging sport that requires a high level of skill. It is also a fun way of earning money by placing bets on matches. If you are interested in trying the sport, get some training first so you can learn the proper technique, which will help you avoid injury and become a better bowler.