Lead position

“Leads can often win the Game…..” 

Leads are a very special asset to any club, and to aspire to be a Lead is a very worthwhile ambition. This is because, ideally, they have the skill and the accuracy to draw and place their bowl extremely close to the jack. When opponents see these accurate shots they are more likely to become defensive and try to knock your bowl out (playing with weight) rather than playing a tactical drawing game. Whatever the outcome, the rest of your team can build, block and defend your bowls and further demoralise the opponents. 

Therefore in competitive games Selectors will be looking for Leads who can bowl the jack to the length indicated by their Skip (at any length), then draw to the jack with their bowls. Successful Singles players often make excellent Leads as they are used to excelling in every aspect of Lead skills. Having said this, there are very few players able to perform such amazing skills as those described above, so for the rest of us – please do not be disheartened. Try your best (as we all do) and your Skip and team mates will make full use of where your bowls are and use them to their advantage to build the head.

In Roll Ups, ideal practice for Leads is to bowl jacks to any length required – particularly minimum and maximum distances (see Fixed Jack) and lengths that they often struggle with. Then bowl their bowl to within a yard (then 2 feet, then eventually inches) in front, to the side, and just behind the jack. There are a number of training exercises available on the internet to build up the skill to do this – see I NEED HELP

Mat - placing the mat when your team wins the previous end

Jack - at the end of a end, once both Two/Threes have agreed who has won and how many shots, they will pick up the jack and give it to you.

Pusher - used to collect all the bowls after the previous end has finished and the jack has been picked up. Please hold the side of the handles NOT THE TOP of the pusher. If you push with your hands on the top part of the handle then you create damaging ridges in the green. When not in use, the pusher is kept on the bank, or an unused next door rink - not on the rink in play.


  • Placing the mat - 
    Facing the rink number on edge of the green (with your back to the Skip) walk slowly backwards dragging the mat until it is at least past the minimum distance marker. Sometimes your Skip may indicate how far up the green they want the mat to go. 
  • Centre the mat - 
    Then stand to the side of the mat, look at your Skip and wait for them to confirm that the mat is centred and straight (usually the Skip will raise a hand to show that the mat position is correct). If the mat needs some adjustment, such as the front needs turning slightly to the left, the Skip will tap the top of their chest and put out their arm in the direction to move it. Back of mat needs moving - Skip taps their bottom. Entire mat needs moving - Skip holds out both hands in front of them, close together, and moves both hands in the direction required.
  • Pick up the jack and your first bowl -
    Place the bowl to the side of the mat within easy reach of your bowling hand. By placing the bowl there in readiness it allows you to be calm and focused as soon as the jack is in position and you can bowl with a clear mind and a recent memory of how far you have just bowled the jack. 
  • MAT ETIQUETTE - come into the mat from the left side - leave the mat on the right
  • Deliver the jack -
    Stand on the mat and look where the Skip is standing on the centre line of the rink - this is the length that they want the jack. Bowl the jack to their feet, if possible. Do not worry if the delivery of the jack is not dead straight, as the Skip can centre it straight afterwards.
    In Friendly games, Skips will often stand to the side of the rink and allow a Lead to bowl the jack to your preferred length, particularly if you are a novice bowler.
  • Centering the jack -
    As soon as you have delivered the jack, stay on the mat. It is vitally important to concentrate and indicate to the Skip how far they need to move the jack to the right or left in order that it is centred and is directly in line with the rink number. Your clear hand and arm gestures (shown away from your body, not in front of your body) are particularly effective as vocal commands can easily be lost over such a distance.
  • If the jack is "dead" - 
    If the jack does not reach the minimum distance, goes outside the rink, or goes into the ditch - then the jack is "dead". You must step off the mat and allow the opposing Lead to move the mat to wherever their Skip directs them. They will then deliver the jack and centre it before stepping off the mat and allowing you to bowl your first bowl., 
  • Now pick up your bowl that you had earlier placed by the mat, take a deep calming breath to release any tension in your shoulders and bowling arm, and deliver your bowl. Well done!
  • Ideally you will be asked to draw to the jack in order to build the head and have shot wood. However, if your bowl finishes in front of the head, then the Skip can use that as a "blocker" to protect subsequent bowls, or they can knock it towards the jack. If your bowl finishes behind the head, then it may be very useful if the jack is knocked back and your bowl may become shot wood. No bowl is wasted as long as it stays in the rink and does not go in the ditch! You will not be asked to bowl with weight in order to "Fire" - that is not a Lead's task.
  • As soon as your bowl comes to rest possession of the rink transfers to your opponent and you must leave the mat (preferably on the right side).


  • After the Skips have bowled all their bowls, stand well back from the head and wait quietly while the Twos (in Triples) or Threes (in Rinks) are looking at the head to decide who has shot and won the end. 
  • As soon as you are sure that your team has lost the end and the jack has been picked up by the opposing Lead, lift the Pusher on to the Green to collect up all the bowls (with your hands pushing forwards the upright parts of the handle, not the horizontal part of the handle)
  • Plan your route as to how to efficiently collect all the bowls. Meanwhile your team mates will gently nudge the bowls into the pusher's path to help you and speed up the process. Remember to check that none of the bowls are either in the ditch or on the bank.
  • Place all the bowls behind the mat and to the LEFT side, making sure that none of the players accidentally trip over the bowls whilst walking to the mat. 
  • Make sure that once used, the Pusher is either off the Green or to the side in an unused rink.


  • Do not walk through the head when changing ends, you may accidentally move a bowl. Instead walk to the side of the head, while still staying in your rink.
  • Take up a position well back from the head (not in front of the rink number), keep quiet, and do not move until the end has been finished. Hand and arm movements can be particularly distracting for bowlers on the mat, breaking their concentration while they are getting ready to perform a challenging shot.
  • Concentrate and watch what your team mates are doing, after all this is a team game!

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