Crown Green Bowling Tips
You are in the right place if you are looking to find out how to play Crown Green Bowls. We will be editing and adding to these tips over the coming weeks.
Choosing the Right Bowl
As a beginner, the first thing that you will need to do is choose your bowls. If you have friends that play, try to use their bowls for practice before purchasing your own. This will give you a better idea of the right weight for you. Commonly used bowls range from 2lbs 6oz (known as 2-6s) to 2lbs 12oz (2-12s). I have always used 2-10 high density.
You may be able to pick up some bowls second hand from members of your club or from online marketplaces such as ebay/gumtree. There are also shops in the UK where you can buy new bowls, and nowadays you can get a range of different colours. You can also find bowls for sale and relevant reviews on Amazon - see the links below for more details.
If you are right handed, stand with your right foot on the mat and bowl in your right hand (opposite if left handed). Step forward with your left foot as you swing your right arm back, and bend your knees.
For an ideal delivery, you should get low to the ground, so that the knuckles of your delivery hand are only a few millimetres from the ground. You should aim to release your bowl at around the position of your left foot, although this will change dependent on the pace you want on your delivery.
Getting the Land
In theory there are only two things to consider to send the perfect bowl - the land and the weight - or where you throw it and how hard!
In practice, that's harder than it sounds, especially for a beginner. In order to get the right land I was always taught the following;
- If you are not sending the jack, watch carefully where it goes
- pick a feature on the green that it passes through or by - around a metre or two in front of you
- when it is your turn, try to send your bowl through that same spot
If you are sending the jack, simply try to pick an feature on the green yourself. Features will usually be a slightly different coloured section of grass - try not to use leaves (or bugs) as they are liable to move before you send your bowl!
Once you have been playing a while and understand the green (especially on your home green) you may be able to pick an appropriate land without having watched the jack, or you will be able to bowl the alternate bias and still bowl a good wood. However common sense says you should always pay attention to where the jack goes and watch your opponents bowls also.
Getting the Weight
Sending the bowl at the right weight is always a little more tricky to describe and simply takes practice. The 'right' weight is dependent on not only how far the jack has been sent, but also on the weather and the condition of the green; dryer, lower cut grass will be quicker than wetter, thicker grass.
When starting to play the best advice is the most basic - simply concentrate on trying to put the same effort, backswing and weight into sending your bowl as you do the jack.
Use your first bowl to give you an idea - adjusting with your second if you need to. This is especially good advice if you are playing a competitive match and don't have the jack.
Advice I was given as a youngster was 'make sure you're up'. If your bowl is short you are not in the running for anything - if you make sure you get to the jack, there is at least a chance of hitting either the jack or another bowl. In that sense, it is better to be too heavy than not reach!
As suggested above, a key part of the game is adjustment. This means changing your land or weight on your second bowl, based on what happened with your first.
Adjustment is always difficult for a beginner, especially if both land and weight were off with the first bowl. The steps for adjustment should be something like;
- assess whether land or weight was off (or both) - this can be more tricky than it sounds, as if weight is too heavy it will mean the bias doesn't kick in soon enough and could make it seem that your land is off also. Think about whether your bowl went through your landscape feature to indicate whether your land was right - or was it the same land as your opponent, and where did their bowl go?
- pay attention to your opponent when they send their bowl - the amount of effort they use may indicate the weight they are sending it, and watch carefully to see if your landscape marker was correct to find the right land.
- send your second wood considering the above. Also assess that. Consider whether you made the right judgement - but don't dwell on it. Your assessment of each end will help to build up the picture of the green and use it to your advantage on future ends.
As with many sports, concentration is vital in bowls. I have already highlighted above that you should be watching closely where your opponent bowls and picking features of the green which will help you to pick the correct land. It makes sense, therefore that you need to be able to concentrate to do this.
Bowls is a game where external distractions can sometimes throw you off - whether that is other players actions on the green, or cheering or shouting from around the green. It is important that you keep your focus on your game, adjusting when necessary and capitalising on any mistakes that you opponent may make.
However, as in many games and sports, the mental aspect is often what makes the real difference between good and great players. The very best players are usually those who are able to put their emotion aside and remain relaxed under pressure. This allows them to identify what improvements or adjustments they need to make from one end to the next without allowing frustration or over confidence to cloud their judgement.
There are some really good books which provide good insight to the mental aspect of sport and which are useful for a range of physical activities. I would strongly recommend the following:
- The Inner Game of Tennis - This book gives a great insight into how you can 'try too hard' and highlights that for peak performance in any physical activity you need to ensure you are relaxed and don't overthink - instead you should rely on your body's muscle memory. I strongly believe this book can vastly improve your approach to many sporting activites and can't recommend it enough.
- Winning Ugly - This is another great book which encourages you to make the choices that will help you to win. It's all about out-thinking your opponent and being one step ahead.