Changing the Line for a Short End

  • By: admin
  • Date: January 20, 2024

We received an excellent question from Alison P. who plays indoor bowls using a set of Drakes Pride Professionals, Size OH.

She asked:

“If my opponent moves the mat up making a shorter end, do I adjust my green when I bowl?

I am not sure whether I just take weight off my bowl or narrow the green too as my target (the jack) is now much close to me.

I can’t get my head around this conundrum!”

In other words, the question is: “Do my length AND my line have to change if the mat is moved right up and in what way do I change?”


Your line does indeed change if you are playing a very short end; less green is needed.

It is easy to prove that this is true by doing the following:

Get on the green and play a full end. Your Drakes Pride Professionals are fairly straight-running bowls and yet you can clearly see how the bowl bends to the jack at the end of its run.

Now do this test:

For your next bowl, move eight metres from the two metre mark and turn round. You will now be just ten metres from the ditch. Now play your usual shot, aiming for the boundary pegs or whatever markings you usually use to assess the length. Play left hand, then right hand.

Because your bowls have hardly any length to travel they will not have time to curve towards the target. It will feel as though you are delivering a bowl with no bias at all.

This is the proof that a bowl plays straighter if the distance they must travel is much shorter than usual.

The question then becomes: just how much less green do you take for a very short end?

Take less green for a short end

I would caution that when playing a short end the adjustment is grass is a very subtle thing. You have to play just slightly narrower – just a finger’s width less grass should do the trick.

Hold a finger in front of your face, about 25 cm away from your nose, next to the line you usually play – to in indicate the slightly narrower line you will be taking for the short end.

Remember: A short end needs more accurate delivery. That’s why it can be a good tactic to make ends shorter. If your opponent can’t adjust to a very short end, you will have a solid advantage.

The reason it feels more difficult to play a very short end accurately is that there is much less room for error. You have only so much running available!

Delivery for a short end

Make sure you do the following when playing a short end:

  • Know exactly the new line you will take before you get on the mat
  • Step perfectly onto the mat, with your leading foot (If you are right handed it’s your right foot, and if you are left handed it is your left foot) pointing exactly down the line you intend to play. (Follow the old dictum: See the line, walk the line, play the line.)
  • Stand still on the mat for a moment and gather your body straight up taut, facing down the line with your delivery arm straight and right up against your body, ready to play with a gentle pendulum action
  • Deliver the bowl with a smooth, gentle action, keeping your arm perfectly straight; lock that elbow
  • Your step foward should be tight and not as far forward as when you are playing a full end, for instance
  • Avoid extraneous wobbles and jerks as you play your bowl; remember that stillness increases accuracy. (Watch the top indoor players – no jerky movements there!)
  • After delivering the bowl, step forward stand directly in line with the mat, in front of it, and watch the progress of the bowl carefully, so you can make minor adjustments next time if necessary

Practice this delivery with the jack at various lengths: 23 metres first (the shortest end possible) and then in one metre increments.

Let us know how you get on, and good bowling!