You may have heard a skip saying things like “it’s in the head” or “just give me a bowl in the head”. But what is The Head in lawn bowls?
I like to think of the head as being an imaginary circle with a diameter of two metre with the jack in the middle. Any bowl that lies in the circle i.e. within a metre of the jack can be useful, either to count as a shot or to be available for “promotion”, which means moving it towards the jack, or even for trailing the jack towards it so the bowl counts as a shot.
Why it’s important to get a bowl (or bowls) in the head
The desirability of getting a bowl, or bowls, as close to the jack as possible is based on the premise that any bowl that’s outside this imaginary circle, particularly if it’s a short bowl i.e. beyond 1 metre short, is much less likely to be “in the count”.
A bowl this short is simply too far from the white target bowl. A skip is generally not happy when a player delivers a short bowl, especially if he has said something like “nothing short please – rather play through the head”. This means the skip would prefer a bowl in the ditch to a short bowl. That is because a short bowl will likely be in the way when he comes to his turn on the mat.
So-called front bowls make it much more difficult for a skip to play a meaningful shot. Front bowls often lie in the exact path, or road, it is necessary for a bowl to travel to make a positive change to the lie of the bowls.
A player that can achieve a 50% average in getting a bowl within a metre of the jack i.e. who gets a bowl into the head every second bowl she delivers is a good player. A player that gets a bowl well inside the head i.e. half a metre from the jack or less is an international class player.