Coaches Tips & Bits

Our coaches respond to members bowls question and periodically publish tips and bits relating to the Rules of Bowls, Etiquette and various other topice that may or should be of interest to bowlers.

If anyone would like to ask a question or would like information on any aspect of bowls, please send it to George Taylor at  These will be passed on to all the coaches and will be replied to as soon as possible. Please don`t be shy. The more knowledge one has, the better one understands bowls and all that goes with it.

On a more general note, here are some clarifications to matters that although no specific question have been asked, the matters themselves have been raising questions in general:

Matter 1: Markers Responsibilities in a Game of Singles –

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Moving to the Q&A’s which have been asked and answered so far, below and the below links are the questions and responses to each question/topic as provided.

Please visit the site and look out for the regular updates.


27 Oct. 2020 – Coach letter 1:   Do’s and Don’ts of players at the Head

29 Oct. 2020 – Coach letter 2:   Possession of the rink

4 Nov. 2020 – Coach letter 3:    Measuring

27 Nov. 2020 – Coach letter 4:  Skipping

29 Nov. 2020 – Coach Letter 4a: Skipping #2

Do’s and Don’ts of players at the Head (27 Oct. 2020)

Question: What should the players at the opposite end to the skip or bowler do and not do?

Answer:  You must stand 2 meters behind the jack. Not directly behind the jack, as if you have white shoes the bowler might not be able to see the jack. Some people stand level with the jack on the side. This is illegal and should not be done. You may stand on the side with your foot next to the jack to show your partner where the jack is. You must retreat 2 meters as soon as they have released the bowl.

You must not move, not even scratch your nose as the movement might upset the bowler.

You should not talk to someone on the bank while some one is bowling. It can be very off-putting and very bad etiquette. In a match, you should not be communicating with the rink next to you or talking to people on the bank.


George Taylor (Head Coach) –

Subject:  Possession of the rink (29 Oct. 2020)

When the bowl stops you must give way to your opponents. I try to signal when my partner or partners return to the mat. If you do it before, I feel you are also giving your opponents information. Instead of shouting, use your hands showing the distance they are from the jack. Above the waist for past and below the waist if short. Please remember once your bowl has stopped you must vacate the mat and at the receiving end you must walk away from the head.

George Taylor  –


Subject: Possession of the rink

Bowlers who are in charge at the non-bowlers end often get confused as to what or when they can signal to the bowler on the mat. In other words, what they are allowed to do/say when the bowl is delivered and is moving and when the bowl has come to a stop?

This is called, “possession of the rink”. Rule 13 of the Laws of the Sport is as follows:

13 Possession of the rink

13.1  Possession of the rink will belong to the player or team whose bowl is being played

13.2  As soon as each bowl comes to rest, possession of the rink will transfer to the opposing player or team after allowing time for marking a toucher as soon as it comes to rest. 

So, in practice this means that when your team member is on the mat, you have possession of the rink. When the bowl is delivered the person at the non-bowler’s end can talk or signal to the bowler how the bowl is progressing and how far it is from the jack by the usual hand/arm signal.

In theory when the bowl has stopped they should not be signaling or shouting out the distance from the jack because the possession of the rink transfers to the opposing player or team. In practice (and by unwritten convention) the signal or shouted instruction is often given literally just after the bowl has come to rest but the opposition is entitled to complain if they think it’s interfering with their possession.

Quite often, after the bowl has stopped, I’ve seen the bowler who is in charge of the head, go up to the head and try to work out who is holding. They cannot do this as they do not have possession of the rink once the bowl has come to rest. They can check who is holding once their team player has the mat again.

Remember, you still have possession of the rink even if the bowler walks away from the mat well before the bowl has finished rolling. This often happens when a player bowls a poor shot and walks off the mat in disgust and turns their back on the bowler who is in charge of the head.

Generally speaking, this is understandable but not good practice. The bowler on the mat should remain there until his bowl has come to a stop so that the person who controls the end can signal to him and so that the bowler can see where the bowl ends up. If you’re a right hander bowling a forehand shot and the bowl ends up three feet to the left of the centre line, you’ll know next time how to adjust your shot. Remember, you can learn just as much from a bad shot as you can from a good shot.

Ian Kaye  –

Subject:  Measuring (4 Nov. 2020)

I am amazed how few people are aware of the correct way to measure.


    • The marker measures.
    • If one of the players does not agree he/she may measure.
    • If the players cannot agree then they call an umpire.
    • If there is no umpire they may call someone from the bank or playing alongside in another rink. This person now takes the place of the umpire. All the competitors must now retreat away from the head and not interfere with the measurer. Their decision is final.

Please remember the marker is not an umpire.


The leads do the measuring. If there is a disagreement and the leads cannot agree, either the skips can measure or someone else.


The number two does the measuring and same applies if there is no agreement.

Fours (rinks):

The number 3 does the measuring and the same as above applies.

When measuring, make sure you are equidistant from both bowls. Squat in the middle, not at the end and then have to stretch across. If you are measuring from a jack in the ditch to a bowl on the green, you should switch the measure around. You now place the measure against the bowl and measure with the pointer to the jack. When measuring don`t move the pointer up or down or sideways so the bowl rocks. Your opposition could claim you have moved the bowl. When I measure I look for the reflection in the bowl as I touch the bowl.

If you have any questions please don`t hesitate to contact me.

George Taylor (Head Coach)  –

Subject:  Skipping (27 Nov. 2020)

The poor skip is always to blame.

If the team fails to put a wood in the head leaving bowls short, and the skip fails to fix it, it is his fault. It doesn`t matter that the rest of the team failed. The poor skip is always to blame. It is a team game.  I have seen and heard this many time over the years.

A skip needs to be able to bowl well on both forehand and backhand. If they cannot, they should not be skipping.

A skip should also be able to play heavy bowls. When I was younger and played for Middlesex, I had the pleasure of playing with an English International skip. He advised me that unless I was prepared to spend hours every day practicing controlling weight or firing, I should concentrate on one only.

I have always preferred full weight but this is something you have to decide for yourself what to do.

A skip should never show his displeasure to any of his team and discourage them. A quiet word of encouragement when crossing gets a far better result.

A skip needs to be able to read a head. This is not common sense, but takes experience.

Example: the open hand is not always the correct line. You should consider if you need a back wood, or if you bowl on the open hand and touch the jack what will happen?

Blockers are the hardest shot in bowls. Most times it helps the opposition and gives them a guide. I have never seen a skip try to put in a blocker in an international match! So as a skip if you wish to use blockers you need to spend time practicing them.

When a skip is crossing to bowl, don’t suddenly start telling him where to bowl. They have seen the head so by suddenly telling him where to bowl, it is very off putting and puts doubt in their mind. You should remain STUM. If they ask for your opinion, that is different. You should only try and change what they are doing if the head changes.

If a skip requests you to do something that you don`t agree with, remember they can see the head and you must listen to them, and not do what you think. I have seen many a head lost because the bowler disagrees with skip and bowls where they think they should be bowling.

I can remember in a vet match when I asked the no. 2 to bowl on his forehand. He disagreed, bowled on his backhand, touched the jack and we went 4 down. I was not a happy bunny.

If you are a newish bowler, don`t skip. Learn to draw on both hands. When you can do this well, you can then try skipping.

If you have any questions please don`t hesitate to contact me.

George Taylor (Head Coach)  –

Subject:  Skipping #2 (29 Nov. 2020)

Regarding the tips for skips – it’s all good advice. I’d like to expand on the ideas a bit more.


 The Skip should keep the score on the score card and should sign both score sheets at end of match and act as scorer in a pairs match. N.B. The skip can delegate this duty to other members of the team provided the opposing Skip is informed.

 A good Skip:

  1. Needs to be able to quickly evaluate weaknesses and strengths of opponents eg do they favour short or long jack, weakness on backhand or forehand etc?
  1. Should know how to change the shape of a game by moving the mat and maybe forcing the opponent to play their weak side. Moving the mat is often done when your side has lost a number of ends and the opposition perhaps looks too happy with the traditional mat position 2 meters from the ditch. By moving the mat right up it often leaves them struggling to find the correct line or length. Of course it could also confuse your own team so I’d suggest that when you practice, you change mat positions so that you get used to this strategy.
  1. Should know how to communicate clearly with confidence and assurance; good clear hand and verbal signals.

 Tips for Skips:

  • Allow Leads to draw twice before bowling for position, and Leads should not be asked to drive unless playing in a pairs game.
  • Skips should decide which hand plays best for each of his or her players and stick with it if possible.
  • Build each head safely. If a loss is inevitable, it should be by a low score. (If you can’t be first shot, then aim to be second!)
  • When holding the shot, bowl for position. When down a shot, draw.
  • Do not call for position bowls that will give the opponents a chance to wick off or rest on.
  • Try to cover all positions that the jack may land if it were sprung.
  • Know when there are possible shots to make a big score, e.g. by springing the jack.
  • The drive is both an offensive and defensive weapon. Use it to burn an end, move the jack, or push a bowl up.

Ian Kaye –

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