Using Position Bowls as a Tactic in Lawn Bowls

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: September 5, 2023

A position bowl can be placed deliberately or come to rest accidentally in a place that prevents the opponent from drawing to the jack.

A position bowl can also be a “stand by” bowl, for instance in case your team (or the opponent) moves the jack up the green, closer to the ditch. The hope is that your position bowl will then be lying shot, or at least will reduce the number of shots for the opponent.

A typical position bowl

In the photo you can see the blue team’s position bowl marked with a black “P”. The blue team hoped that the red team would be unable to get into the head and remove their shot bowl due to the blue position bowl lying in the path of a red bowl.

However, in this case the position bowl tactic proved ineffective. By playing a straight, heavy and accurate bowl, the player narrowly avoided hitting the position bowl and a few milliseconds after this frame was taken, knocked out the lying shot, leaving the blue team lying three shots.

Position bowls can be placed in one of six positions:

  • Behind the jack to the left
  • Behind the jack to the right
  • Level with the jack to the right
  • Level with the jack to the left
  • In front of the jack to the left
  • In front of the jack to the right

What is “building the head” in lawn bowls

A compliment regularly paid to good skips is that they know how to “build a head”. This means that once the front ranks have drawn a couple of shots and perhaps placed another bowl just behind the jack, they skip can start asking the players to play position bowls.

She might say, “Place you bowl one metre through the head over here,” giving the player a foot. Or a skip might say: “draw just in front of the jack here”, blocking the opponent’s bowls from reaching the jack.

Or the skip may ask for a bowl to be played way back near the ditch if he know the opponents like to play driving shots to get out of trouble. If that happens, the jack will probably shoot towards the ditch, which would give the skip’s bowl a chance of lying shot.

An accomplished skip estimates where the jack will move in any eventuality and have position bowls standing by in the vicinity she believes the jack will come to rest.

What does “lying shot” mean in lawn bowls?

“Lying shot” simply refers to the bowl that’s lying closest to the jack at any moment in the game. Thus your team might be holding the shot but a minute later the opponents may have moved your shot bowl away and they will be lying shot.