If a player is uncertain where the jack is in relation to other bowls in the head, he can ask the player at the other end to “give him a foot”.
“Giving a foot” means that the player will put his foot somewhere near the jack, or somewhere in the head to help the player deliver an accurate bowl.
This is entirely acceptable and within the Laws and Etiquette of lawn bowls.
Asking for a foot does not in any indicate a weakness on the part of the player who requests it. In fact, it shows that the player is aware of her limitations and is intent on playing the best shot possible anyway.
As you can see from the image here, by giving her co-player a foot (placing it somewhere that gives an indication where the jack is) the player who is about to bowl has a clearer idea of the distance to play.
The positioning of the foot also gives the player an idea of the grass to take so that the bowl curves neatly towards the jack.
Different ways to give a foot
There are several ways a player can give a foot to another player to help the bowler gauge the shot to play:
- Half a metre or less and in line with the jack
- More than half a metre level with the jack, or even a short distance behind
- Some other place specified by the player, such as right on the lip of the ditch if the jack is lying in the ditch
How do you ask for a foot?
Usually a player asks verbally for a foot, saying “Can you give me a foot please?” or raising a leg and slapping the shin to indicate that a foot is needed.
Can you give a foot without being asked?
Yes, skips and other back rank players often place a foot in the head after verbally giving advice as to how the shot should be played.
On occasion a foot placed unasked in or near the head actually hinders the player at the other end of the green from getting a clear idea how to play.
In that case the player should say something polite such as: “That’s alright” or “I can see it, thanks” so the teammate moves her foot away from the jack and moves two to three metres back from the head to away the bowl’s delivery.
Rules about giving a foot
Obviously, the person “giving a foot” should take care not to make contact with and move the jack.