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lawn bowls bias

Competitive Edge – Playing With Narrow Or Wide Lawn Bowls



There are a wide variety of different lawn bowls for sale on the market.  With various manufacturers having multiple models which range from narrow bias bowls to wide bias bowls.  Not only do you have a spectrum of bias to chose from but also a selection of grips, sizes, colours and weights.  The same question is repeated the world over by many lawn bowlers when they come to changing, updating or purchasing their first set of bowls….. ‘Which ones are the best’?

Rather than debate which manufacture or model of bowl is ‘the best’, let’s explore how these options can provide a competitive edge to your game,  understand how narrow or wide bias bowls can be  an advantage or disadvantage and improve your equipment knowledge relevant to the conditions, surfaces and games you play regularly.   



Below are 4 key aspects to consider in relation to your own game and the type of bowl to use to your advantage 



We are all individually different as humans, physically and psychologically.  Therefore it is fair to say that just because ‘Dave’, the the club singles champion for the last 5 years uses size 4 extra heavy bowls, that you should be using the same.  Having a size of bowl and type of grip that sits comfortably in your hand is key to the overall consistency of your game.  With some manufactures making half size bowls (0.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5) and even a 3.75 size from one manufacture, can give you no excuse to finding the appropriate size to sit perfectly in your hand. 

TIP – An easy guide to understanding if a size is too small or too big for your hand is to grip the bowl, then if you are unable to hold the bowl upside down without losing grip or struggling to hold it, re-assess the size, its more than likely too big.  Conversely if that’s an easy task maybe go up a size and see what your ‘drop size is’.  – see picture below

Also take a look…. Fundamentals to improve your lawn bowls consistency




Bowling green surfaces greatly vary across the globe depending on various factors.  From location, climate, time of year and maintenance carried out.  Unfortunately for many bowlers being able to play on pristine outdoor surfaces or consistently true indoor surfaces every week is not the norm.  Therefore due to the vast discrepancy of surface conditions one bowl to rule them all is not a possibility. 

To simplify the process of narrowing down your bowl of choice, consider the surfaces you play the most on being either ‘heavy/slow’ or ‘quick’.  Usually ‘slow’ surfaces have less turn than ‘quick’ surfaces so using wider bias bowls on ‘slow’ surfaces will provide you with greater shot playing ability.  With regards to ‘quick’ surfaces, narrower bias bowls tend to be the choice for many bowlers who consistently play on these surfaces.  With plenty of turn on ‘quick’ surfaces, using wide bias bowls will only increase the difficulty of shot playing for any bowler… even the most elite.



A common belief that circulates among some bowlers old and new alike, is the thinking that the narrower the bias of bowl the easier it will be to play shots and become a better player.  This thesis is somewhat flawed because narrow bias bowls on a ‘slow’ surface will not allow you to draw around bowls or play up-shots/timing shots effectively.  This then restricts your shot playing ability,  becoming a more predictable and ‘one trick pony’ style of player.

Even if you a relatively new bowler playing mostly the lead position, using slightly wider bias bowls is much more beneficial than narrow bias bowls.  Sure there might not be many bowls to navigate playing the lead position but honing your skills with wider bias bowls will only excel your shot playing ability, game development and advancement to second, third or skip positions.  This obviously relates to anyone looking to advance their game, not only new bowlers.   



Looking at Golf as an example, golfers are only allowed a certain number of clubs in their bag per round, therefore many golfers will specifically chose a selection of clubs that will give them the best chance to hit a low scoring round on that specific course they are playing.  Why not do the same for bowls?

Investing in a secondary set of bowls would allow you the ability to play to your full potential on a greater variety of surfaces or adapt to changed conditions from game to game.  Having a secondary set of the same brand,  size and grip, but slightly different in bias could be a game changer when you turn up to an opposition surface that is vastly different to your expectations.

Check out our post on….. Lawn bowls guide to playing in wet and windy conditions


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Overall wider bias bowls provide more options to bowlers during a game.  Being able to draw around bowls, playing up-shots whilst navigating bowls in the head is vital to becoming an overall better player.  Most elite bowlers tend to use wider bias bowls and don’t rely on ‘one set for every condition’.  That said, most of us do not have the access to multiple sets that they do so choosing a bowl that is comfortable in your hand (for consistency of technique) and a bowl that is of wider bias for the surface you play on regularly is most important.

Remember – buying the latest set of bowls will not automatically excel your game, but investing time and energy into your technique, purposeful practice, tactical awareness and mental toughness will propel you game to the next level. 

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