Coaches Corner

Brian Donovan and Lou Anastassiou are the the CLUB COACHES at Doncaster Bowling Club. Bowlers who would like individual or small group coaching are requested to approach one of the two club coaches for assistance.

Lawn Bowls Etiquette and Basic Rules posted 26 June 2019

Lawn Bowls – Etiquette, Strategy, Rules, Guidelines Click here to read

The Marker’s Duties Click here to read




  • A good lead sets control of the head, with a good team built around a good lead.
  • Must have good communication with the Skip.
  • Use the “roll-up” to find the truest hand and discuss with the Skip.
  • Place the mat at the discretion of the Skip.
  • Deliver the jack as close as possible, to a distance determined by the Skip.
  • Get two bowls in the “keyhole” – an area no more than 1 mat length around the jack.
  • Do not lose concentration on the game.


  • A good second should be a “jack of all trades” to cover all situations that may arise.
  • Bowl the hand as directed by the Skip.
  • Draw to the jack or a position as requested by the Skip.
  • Never anticipate what direction the Skip will give.
  • Stand behind the mat and await direction.
  • Be capable of the full variety of shots.
  • Keep the scorecard – acknowledge the score, record neatly and adjust scoreboard if at that end.


  • Should be a strong bowler, encourage team performance, be diplomatic and loyal to the Skip.
  • Be capable of the full variety of shots.
  • Be in full harmony with the Skip.
  • Accept directions without question.
  • Be a good judge of a shot, as the Skip will rely on the ability to give an accurate assessment of the head.
  • Call the Skip to the head if in doubt.
  • Be a capable measurer and aware of the laws of the game.
  • Stand back when the Skip is playing, don’t move or say anything unless asked.
  • Be aware of games next to you to protect the head in case of a wayward bowl.
  • At completion of each end, give Skip the clear result of the end and then to the second.
  • If head changes, advise the Skip accordingly.


  • Should be a motivator, a good psychologist and an analyst.
  • Must know the team and call shots within their capabilities.
  • Show leadership and earn the teams’ respect.
  • Be firm with directions, not show public displeasure with bad shots, but quietly talk to players between ends.
  • Analyse the team plus the opposition for strengths and weaknesses.
  • Wherever possible, not interfere with the Lead – trust their judgement and give advice if asked.
  • Take the Third into confidence to show the team and the opposition that they are in complete harmony.
  • If not happy with the shot called by the Third, go to the head and discuss.
  • Be loyal to the team to bring out the best in them.
  • Be aware of games next to you to protect the head in case of a wayward bowl.
  • Be in tune with the state of the green and call percentage shots when required.
  • Know and understand the rules of the game.
  • Always show good etiquette on and off the green .
  • Have a positive attitude towards the game and the team – be a good loser.
  • Play with a positive attitude – remember, you represent the Club.


  • The performance potential of a team is much greater than the individual talents of a player, especially in lawn bowls .
  • Mutual respect, good communication, trust and encouragement are traits that will foster team spirit.
  • Get to know your teammates, be positive and supportive, resolve conflict quickly , adopt a good attitude , communicate and don’t be a loud mouth or show off.
  • Above all  don’t forget to have fun when playing the game.
  • Play the best game that you can, and remember, enjoyment increases everyone’s success!

Some Tactics for Head Building

Quite often, during play, the head is allowed to build without any real thought being given to the necessity of strategic placement of bowls, to either maximise the number of shots gained or to reduce the score that one’s opponent may achieve.

Obviously, you should not take unnecessary risks in directing your team’s shots, or play into your opponents hands, by underestimating their ability to take advantage of a dangerous situation that you may have created by careless head building.

Perhaps a golden rule to bear in mind when building a head, is that if if you cannot win an end, then the main aim is to lose by the least number of shots.

NEVER be afraid to let your opponent have one shot when your risky “saving” bowl may mean going down four or five.

If you are holding shots don’t be too greedy, but look for adverse positions in the head, where a movement of the jack could result in a big score against you, and play to cover that possibility with a position bowl.


1. When holding shots – never be narrow.

2. When down – never be wide.

3. Every player’s bowls are part of the head building process.

T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More


To succeed at the task in hand everyone involved needs to combine their efforts. If everyone does their job well, then it increases what the team can accomplish. This teamwork has to be recognised by everyone and know that great things can happen if individuals master the fundamentals and work together as one unit. Everyone has their own unique role, but each person’s individual role must be recognised and appreciated.

Teamwork is something that must be a high priority and given constant attention. Every player needs to understand how important it is for them to work smoothly together if they want to be successful. Each player must be dedicated to the whole team. When challenges arise (as they always do), the players must have the commitment to deal with them in a constructive and positive manner. A sense of teamwork will play an integral part in this.

Just remember:

T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More

  • Play to your abilities and the games will go your way.
  • Good Communication.
  • Keep an eye on the main scoreboard.
  • Don’t play risky shots – be happy with 1 (or going down 1) if by taking a risky shot you give away multiples.
  • Rinks – If you’re not going to win – It’s what you lose by that can make a winning Side.

If each player aspires to play 2 better bowls during the game than last week that equates to 8 better bowls per rink and 32 better bowls per Side – imagine the difference that could make!!












“Play your role to the best of your ability and the rest of the team will have the confidence to achieve a positive result.”


The following information can assist in reducing the heat risk associated with playing in hot weather.

  • Drink water or sports drinks with electrolytes.
  • Start drinking at least 2 hours prior to the game.
  • Sip water / sports drink throughout the game.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Use cooling aids – e.g. damp neck cloth.
  • Keep in the shade as much as possible.
  • Apply a high UV sunscreen to all exposed areas of the skin.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.

Tactics and the Game of Bowls for Competition and Pennant Players

  1. At least 60% of games are won on clear thinking with successful tactics.
  2. Do not at any time divulge your tactics with your opposition – CARELESS TALK COSTS GAMES!!
  3. Watch for players who are inclined to favour one hand.
  4. A time may come to force them on to the other hand – but only under instructions from your Skip.
  5. In most cases, your opposition is only as strong as you allow them to be.
  6. Don’t be inclined to give praise to your opposition during a game. If warranted, do so after the game.
  7. NEVER turn your back on a bad bowl.
  8. Forget the Bad bowls as they are history.
  9. In most cases a bad bowl is due to lack of concentration.
  10. When not holding shot, always endeavour to draw the second shot.
  11. Winning bowls is all about playing the percentage shot.
  12. Remember – there is a time to take a risk.
  13. There are of course time not to take a risk.
  14. At all times try and keep the opposition bowls covered in case the jack is moved – valuable information from Third to Skip.
  15. Avoid being short if the shot is against you, as the best ammunition you can gave is a bowl through the head.
  16. Never drive if you only have one bowl in the head, as the odds are against you.
  17. It is important that the Lead roll the jack to where the Skip requires it, as a bad length can sometimes allow the opposition back into the game.
  18. If the Lead can draw his/her two bowls near the jack, he/she therefore makes a positive contribution for the team, plus building the confidence of other team members.
  19. The Skip must at all times consider the overall score and the number of ends played, plus the overall position.
  20. On a draw shot, remember you always take the same line whether it be a short or long end.
  21. Never approach the mat with a particular shot in mind – at all times await instructions from your Skip.
  22. Always remember, that no bowl is ever in the draw if you take the right grass.
  23. If you cannot see the shot asked for, then ask the Skip for permission to examine the head.
  24. In many cases the head reads differently from the opposite end.
  25. In the event of a close measure, always declare as to what you think and then let the opposition measure.
  26. Never declare the shots you are holding until the opposition bowl has come to rest.
  27. Encourage your own team members at all times.
  28. Remember that 72% of draw bowls finish across the head line, so therefore it is necessary to take green at all times.
  29. It is far better to be a foot wide than a foot narrow. Wide bowls nearly always fall towards the centre line, narrow bowls fall away.
  30. From time to time we can all do with some advice on improving our bowls performance.
  31. No matter how well we play the game, there are always elements we can improve on.
  32. A good bowlers performance is based simply from:

DEDICATION – CONCENTRATION – DETERMINATION plus the will to win at all times.

For Pennant Players – Percentage of Bowls expected from the following:-

Lead      –              50%        =             21 

Second  –              45%        =             18/19 bowls 

Third     –              40%        =             16/17 bowls 

Skip       –              33%        =             14 bowls 

On the Mat

1. Once on the mat, look at your Skip for guidance or information about the head.

2. Stay on the mat and follow the path of your bowl until it comes to rest. You can learn something from every delivery – line, length, the amount of draw and any irregularities on the rink that day.

3. Once your bowl has stopped, you must relinquish the mat to the opposition and no further discussion can take place with your skip until you next are back on the mat.

4. When back on the mat, look at your skip to see if he /she has any specific directions to give you regarding your next delivery, then proceed as above.

1. Every person from lead to skip is of equal importance. No matter how good the skip might be, he/she is dependent on the abilities of his / her teammates.

2. Consistency is impossible without a smooth delivery.

3. As the lead goes, so the game goes, is very often true. So remember, the lead’s job is to consistently “draw” as close to the jack as possible.

4. A bowl at the back is worth ten in the way.

5. Too many players look at the jack, rather than a definite point of aim. Look and aim at the line along which you want the bowl to travel. How many times do your bowls end up narrow? Too often for many. This usually happens because you are over anxious to see where your bowl is going, so you look up towards the jack before your bowl is fully rolling along the aiming line. This causes your arm to pull across your body in the direction of the target, and the bowl will almost always finish narrow!

The remedy is to consciously keep your head down and your eyes focused on the chosen delivery line for a few extra seconds before you look up.

Tips for Skips

Here are a few tips from top professional New Zealand bowler for all skips to note (yours truly included).

Peter Bellis says, however good skips are, they should regard themselves as being on a permanent learning curve along with every other player. A good skip should be a statesman as well as an expert shot maker. Confident, respectful of team members, supportive, and a good communicator! The skip doesn’t put up with negative talk or unconstructive criticism and is guilty of neither.

A skip generally gets the kudos when the team wins, so be sure to spread the credit around to other players. If the team loses, however, the skip should take full responsibility, regardless of the other team members’ performance.
To be a skip is a privilege, show confidence in your team through your bearing and body language.

Oh, to have all those good qualities!  We all have our faults, and this is a reminder to work on correcting them. Other team members will appreciate it.

Tips for Pennant Players

1.  Never attack a close opposition shot – take good green to make the head wider.
2.  Be prepared, though, to attack your own first bowl if it is ‘Jack level’ otherwise your opponent(s) may make use of it instead.
3.  If conditions are changing (change of wind, temperature, speed of green) you should be the first to notice it – and quietly pass it on to your team mates.
4.  Do not let your opponents dictate the pace of play.

1.  Double your efforts if your lead or third is struggling. Take responsibility of holding the team together until they pick up their game.
2.  NEVER play two short bowls on an end – make sure  your first bowl reaches the head – particularly when your team is holding shot.
3.  Look upon your position as a most rewarding one – many great skips regard it as the most important position in the team.

1.  A confident and smiling third is a ‘team plus’ and a worry to the opposition, particularly when the pressure is on.
2.  NEVER play a variation on the shot your skip has called for. Your genuine attempt can educate your skip better than words will ever do.
3.  You are in a unique position in the team to quietly encourage all of your team mates to play well around you – look upon that as one of your tasks during the game.

1.  Know the shot your team mate (or you) needs to play. Treat it as an interesting challenge or opportunity for him/her (or yourself) rather than a difficulty or a problem.
2.  ALWAYS think ahead. Concentration is living one bowl into the future (whether it is your bowl or theirs).
3.  Speak slowly, loudly and clearly towards the other end. It indicates that you are in control of the situation, both to your team and the opposition.