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Duties: To be in charge of the team, the Skip delegates duties and interact with opponent when necessary

  • Instruct the team members which shot to play

  • Make decisions with the opponent to comply with the laws the game and conditions of play,

  • Ensure that the score card is completed accurately and submitted as required.


Strengths & Weaknesses: It is imperative when building the head that the Skip know his teammates' strengths and weaknesses and the bias dimensions of their bowls. Many Skips are prone to call for a shot or shots based on their own ability and the track of their bowls.  The Skip should be aware of the accruing score, remembering that the team has a responsibility to the side and therefore should not adopt an over zealous attitude to the situation that will endanger the sides' result.


Encouragement: The Skip should endeavor not to display disappointment if a player poorly executes a shot, and should always commend a player who plays a good shot. Try not to look worried or discouraged in trying situations.


Qualities Expected: Be in control of the team and process the following:

  • Communication: Have good communication within the team by:

    • Ensuring the team understands the game plan

    • Carrying out debriefings and constructing the game plan

    • Ascertaining appropriate hand signals with the team

    • Being positive with instructions

    • Keeping directions short, simple and indicate correctly

  • Tactics: Be ingenious, contrive and instigate tactical know-how by:

    • Constructing a game plan before the game

    • Knowing and being able to read the head

    • Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the team

    • Ensuring you have control over mat placement and jack length

    • Knowing and employing the sound tactics of the game

    • Knowing when to play the opposition hand or shot

    • Observing and where possible counter the tactical moves of the opposition

  • Skills:  Improve your own skills to enable you, when required, to play any of the shots of the game e.g. draw shot, on-shots, running and drive shots.

The Skip

As strategy as well as physical execution are essential in lawn bowling players have varying roles and responsibilities within competing teams.  In Doubles, Triples and Rinks with their multi-player teams different team members perform different functions and even bowl with different positional purposes.  In Singles, with its single member sides, the player performs a variety of tasks otherwise distributed among members of multi-player teams, but the range of responsibilities and even strategies are largely similar albeit not shared.

Player Positions - Roles and Responsibilities

The Lead

Duties: The Lead of the team bowls first for each end:

  • Places the mat as directed by the Skip

  • Delivers the jack and makes certain that it is centered before delivering the first bowl of the end

  • Helps return lawn bowls to a safe position to the right of the mat at the conclusion of each end


Gamesmanship: Ignores what the opposition Lead is doing and plays their bowls to achieve the Skip's objective.


Mat & Jack Tactics: Tactics begin in trial ends; from the toss of the coin, the first placement position of the mat and playing length of the jack. It is therefore vital that the Lead watch the Skip for instructions for the placement and delivery length. It is not the prerogative of the Lead to move the mat around at will or vary the length of ends.


Trial Ends: During trial ends lawn bowls are played on the forehand and backhand to determine the best side to play. After consultation with the Skip, the best side (usually the narrow hand) is chosen and played by the Lead. The Lead's hand is not changed unless instructed by the Skip.


Wisdom: Wisdom suggests that the Lead should always bowl on the same side of the rink as this obviates the necessity of having to cope with the varying width and pace of the green.


Self-Control: An essential requirement of Leads is to deliver their bowls as close to the jack as possible. Unless specifically instructed by their Skip, they should strictly avoid niggling at close opposition bowls, keep their mind clear and focused on their objective - in a team effort, a good close second bowl is just as important as the shot bowl.

The Vice

Duties: The Vice must be a versatile player for defense, attack or recovery with the ability to:

  • Draw on either hand to the jack or to a position designated by the Skip

  • Be able to play on-shots to trail the jack to designated lengths

  • Rest on or wrest out bowls from the head

  • When the Lead has failed, re-establish the Leads obligation at the head

  • Assist in moving the bowls back behind the mat at the conclusion of each end


Harmony: It is essential the Vice works in complete harmony with the Skip and other members of the lawn bowls team  

  • Be in charge of the head when Skips are bowling or in the absence of the Skip  

  • If delegated to measure for shot, decide with the opponent the number of shots and signal the result to Skip and other team members

  • Help to return bowls to a safe position behind the mat at the conclusion of each end

  • Know and be able to identify the teams and opponent’s bowls.  Answer the Skips queries correctly and concisely


Experience & Ability: Apart from being experienced in all shots from the draw to the drive, the Vice must also be able to quickly indicate the position of the head or bowls when asked for this information.


Control & Advice: The Vice should not attempt to control the Skip's play.  Refrain from offering advice unless specifically asked for by the Skip.


Other Attributes:

  • Must be able to act as the director of the head

  • Be able to determine the shot quickly when asked

  • Able to indicate the up or down position after the Skip's bowls comes to rest

  • Always know who holds second and third shots

  • Always be aware of the position of bowls in the head when its his turn to play but under no circumstances pre-empt the Skip's instructions

  • Observe all shot measurements and, when in doubt, re-check the measurement

  • Possess a thorough knowledge of the laws of the game, conditions of play and the etiquette of the game

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