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Victory Hall, Church Road, Farley Hill, Reading, RG7 1TR


Playing as a No.1

Your most important role in the game is to get one or more of your bowls as close to the jack as possible, and preferably behind it rather than in front of it.  Any very short bowls that may get in the way later on are undesirable.

Playing in this position is often badly underrated, because if you can consistently manage to get one or more of your bowls close to the jack on every end, without delivering too many very short or very wide bowls , you will have a skill that is to be much admired and most welcome by your team!

That said, the No.1 position will usually be given to any new bowler starting on match play until they gain more experience of the game, and of match etiquette in particular. (See separate sheet on this!)

As the No.1 bowler you are also responsible for placing the mat with the front edge at a minimum of 2 metres from the ditch (or further up the green if directed to do so by your skip) with the mat straight and with the middle of it running along the imaginary centre line between the numbers at each end of the rink.


Please expect to have your mat placement corrected sometimes, as directed by your skip.

Careful initial placement of the mat is important, because many bowlers use the mat to choose their bowling line.

(N.B.  A crooked or misaligned mat may be straightened or realigned by any bowler during the match, but it cannot be moved forwards or backwards after initial placement.)

It is usual for the visiting team to have “visitors jack” i.e. be the first to have their No.1 place the mat, bowl the jack and bowl first , alternating with you until all the bowls have been delivered

It is also usual to have 2 trial ends, when you will have the privilege of choosing the length of the jack when you bowl it, whereas on all the other ends the skip will usually stand at the length that he wants you to bowl the jack to.

It is best to aim to place the jack about ¾ of the way up the green on a trial end, rather than short or at full length, since this will give a good average overall indication of how the green will behave. For similar reasons, it is usual for each bowler to deliver one bowl on the forehand and one on the backhand during a trial end

The skip may also ask you to bring the mat up, to change the run of the green and maybe confuse the opposition.

Consequently, being able to bowl the jack close to the centre line and to the length asked for by your skip is another skill much admired in a No.1 bowler!  This skill can only be learnt gradually with practice, and is one that you will find very useful to have when playing in club competitions. If you deliver a jack that is too short (N.B. it must be a minimum of 23m from the mat) or into the ditch your opposite number is allowed to reposition the mat and must bowl the jack correctly instead, although you will still bowl first.

 (N.B. Useful tip! All bowlers should be watching carefully how all your team’s bowls and all the opposition’s bowls behave to help them assess the green’s behaviour, just as much as they should be watching their own!)

When playing as a No.1 in a Rink, you will invariably be allowed to choose whether you bowl on the forehand or the backhand with both of your bowls.

When playing as a No.1 in a triple your skip may choose to advise you on which hand to bowl your third wood.

The only other important duty you have as a No.1 is to pick up the jack and the mat and get ready to place the mat and bowl the jack ASAP, when you win an end; or to collect up all the bowls with a trolley, when you lose an end. Take care not to collect up any bowls close to the jack before the no. of shots has been agreed!

Playing as a No 2 - in a Rink

This requires you be more capable of following specific bowls delivery instructions given by your skip.

Therefore, you should be capable of bowling well on both line and length with either the forehand or backhand when requested to do so.

Hence, you should be able to improve on or consolidate the bowling efforts of your No.1. so as to help to build a better head for the subsequent bowlers in your team.

There are no other specific duties assigned to this position.

Compiled by Bill Dowling, Club Secretary, April 2014