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lawn bowls shot selection

4 Fundamentals To Improve Your Shot Selection

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What’s more important? Being able to play all the shots, or being able to play the right shot at the right time? Lawn bowls shot selection is a critical component to your game and can be a hugely neglected skill in itself that is not fully understood, improved or focused on as part of a ‘how to improve’ approach.

What is shot selection? Putting it simply, it is choosing the correct shot to play at that particular moment in the game to achieve the maximum outcome for you or your team.

The correct shot to play can be highly debatable and many a bowl is replayed, discussed and criticised in the club house after a game.  The important point to remember is the fact that we all fail with shots every single game, the only difference from a new bowler to an elite bowler is the number of times they fail throughout the game. 

We can all interpret the game differently and have varying styles to our game but whether your style is defensive, attacking or somewhere in the middle we can all consider the following 4 fundamentals to shot selection as a key part of improving your chances of delivering match winners more often.





The number of ends played or remaining is a key principle which needs to be factored into your shot selection.  If only a few ends have been played then it is fair to say that playing a riskier shot for a high reward is something that can be considered. 

Conversely if there are only a few ends remaining in the game, risky shots which could go badly should rarely be considered as there will be few ends to recover if you concede multiple shots choosing a risky shot.




Comprehension of not only your own game score line but importantly other rink games also is imperative and consideration of the overall picture across multiple rinks.  Also known as thinking about the ‘big board’ or ‘overall score’.  Weighing up your shot selection as to what could go right and what could go wrong will have an impact across the green depending on the outcome. 

For example, the home team is 2 shots down across the ‘big board’ with 1 end remaining on each of the three rinks competing.  Rink A is 1 shot down with the home skip playing the last bowl.  They have 4 second shots and a chance to drive out the shot bowl for 4 shots, however if they are a bowl tight and they ditch the jack they have no back bowls and could possibly go 5 down depending on where the jack ends up.  The other two rinks playing are holding one shot each.  What do you do?

Firstly before you consider your shot selection, make sure you confirm with the other skips the exact situation on their rinks and take some time to discuss each skips shot selection and potential for things to go right or wrong. 

In this instance it may be wise to hold off on your shot and let the other games pan out, as your shot selection may be made easier knowing exactly what you have/haven’t to score.  In this instance ploughing ahead, being the hero and playing the ‘match winning’ shot could backfire and not only cost the overall game but not give the other rinks any chance of winning the game either.  A more conservative and considered shot selection could ensure at minimum an overall draw.


Check out our other blog post on Lawn bowls fours – Succeeding at the ultimate team discipline



Constantly evaluating if you are playing better than your opponent or they are getting the upper hand over you should be part of your shot selection consideration.  Not necessarily who is winning as the score line may not reflect who is playing the better bowls generally.  Selecting a more defensive or a more aggressive shot may be the shot that changes the game momentum in your favour or in the favour of the opponent if it all goes a little ‘pear shaped’. 

TOP TIP not playing a ‘risky’ shot to try and score a multiple and settling to try and draw an extra shot for 2 can be the momentum changing shot selection, settling to just score and win the end saying the opponent has won the previous 6 ends and playing the length of jack they are dominating.  Win the end – change the jack length – change the game momentum


4     –     RISK V REWARD

Ultimately the vast majority of your shot selection decision should consider the ‘risk v reward’ thesis.  What is ‘risk v reward’? It is a systematic approach to assess the relationship between the cost or risk of an undertaking to the prospective reward. In other words, risk versus reward is an analysis of the pros and cons of a given situation or course of action.

Weighing up what could go right v what could go wrong should be at the forefront of your decision.  Ultimately the more successful players tend to play shots that have high reward for low risk, hence why it may seem like more successful players always seem to be ‘more lucky’ or always get a ‘good result’.  This is the outcome of playing high reward low risk shots

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 Anyone can play an ultimate bowl or unbelievable shot at the perfect time, however considering the four fundaments and consistently selecting more high reward and low risk shots over the course of a game will tend to pay off on a more regular basis.                                                                       

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