Two (triples) & Three (fours)

"The Skip's second in command...."


  • Be able to bowl with accuracy into a crowded head; able to place back bowls and blockers when directed by the Skip. You may be asked to bowl with weight or fire so as to open up the head for the Skip to get close to the jack (although this also opens up the head for the opponents' Skip as well).
  • Need to have a good understanding of tactics on how to build a head, and be fully aware of what is going on at both ends of the rink all the time.
  • Ideally have a good understanding of how your Skip plays. For instance, some Skips love the challenge of squeezing through gaps in a wall of bowls, while other Skips ask their team mates to bowl on one side of the rink so that when the Skip comes to bowl, their preferred side is free of bowls blocking their path. Some Skips will expect you to give information on how many shots you have etc, while other Skips are adamant that they do not want any communication at all from their Two/Threes. If in doubt, ask your Skip for their preferences before the game begins.
  • Be a good listener. Your Skip may explain their tactics as you pass each other changing ends. This information will enable you to support and guide your Skip later on, should any part of the head be disturbed by the opposition.
  • You are responsible for the behaviour of your team mates. Use tact and sensitivity when reminding them, when necessary, to keep still and concentrate on the game and observe rink etiquette


  • Chalk, to mark bowls that touch the jack
  • Bowls Measure (see Equipment)
  • Wedges, to prevent bowls from falling or moving while being measured.
  • Cloth or small towel, to kneel on when measuring. Also used to place shot bowls on while measuring further potential shot bowls. It reminds both Two/Threes how many shots have been agreed so far.

 First part of each end

  • Before it is your turn to bowl you should support and encourage your team members if they require it. Be totally immersed in the game, always aware of what is happening in the head.
  • Stand well back from the mat (ideally near the bowls on the left hand side) whilst your team mates are bowling. Keep still and do not talk, as this can distract the bowlers on the mat. 
  • Watch how far the jack has been put. Be vigilant and aware of which bowls belong to your team, and those of your opponents. There is nothing more frustrating for a Skip than to have to explain to their second in command which bowls are home and away. 
  • Another thing to watch for is the line that the Leads and Twos bowl. Is the Skip asking them to bowl mostly on the forehand or backhand (perhaps because the green is better one side than the other)? The Skip is planning and building the head. You are part of the team and so your bowls will soon become part of the Skip's strategy.  
  • After the Lead (and Two in Fours) have bowled, it is now up to you to support your Skip on how to either gain control of the head, or to defend it.
  • Pick up your bowl and go on to the mat from the left hand side. Stay calm, take a deep breath and look at your Skip for their instructions on where they want you to bowl. 
  • Ideally you will be asked to draw to the jack in order to build the head and have shot wood. However, your Skip may ask you to bowl a "blocker" to protect your team's shot woods, or they may be planning to knock it towards the jack. Conversely, you may be asked to place a bowl at the back of the head in case the opposition decide to knock the jack back.
  • Possession of the mat (rink) passes to the other side when your bowl comes to a rest. You should then wait for your next turn on the mat before exchanging information with your Skip. 
  • 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). 
  • When you have finished bowling and are in the process of changing ends, listen to what your Skips tells you and quickly and quietly discuss tactics with them.

 The role of the Two/Three is now to control the head whilst the Skip is on the mat.

  • Remind your team mates to take up a position well back from the head (not in front of the rink number), keep quiet, and not to move until the end has been finished. Hand and arm movements can be particularly distracting for Skips on the mat, breaking their concentration while they are getting ready to perform a challenging shot.
  • The first bowl your Skip bowls will not need any information as they have just left the head. However, towards the end of the end when your Skip has only one or two bowls left, they may ask you for information. e.g. “how far in front/behind was their last bowl”; “which is home, which away”; “which is the safest line so that I don’t knock the opponents bowls closer to the jack”; “who or what is shot”, “shall I fire, and which way?”….. 
  • Retrieve any bowls from the ditch or wherever they finish and that are not in play is good etiquette. 
  • You should wait for the Skip to ask his opinion about the head and advice about shot selection but ultimately the final shot selection rests with the Skip. Always provide precise and accurate answers when the Skip is on the mat.
  • ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS …. Learn how to give as much information as possible by using hand and body signals rather than trying to shout information to your Skip down the other end of the rink, particularly if you are looking towards the ground and your skip is hard of hearing. Some Skips prefer not to have any information given to them by their Two/Three as it distracts their concentration – these Skips will indicate if they want help or information. Be vigilant and learn what your Skip wants. 
  • Only you are responsible for reading the head and giving information to your Skip when it is asked for by them. No other team mates should offer advice or opinions unless you specifically ask an experienced team player to advise you of tactics – all your team mates should stand well back from the head.
  • Once all the bowls have been delivered the Threes have to measure any bowls that appear the same distance from the jack. If playing against an opponent or are yourself a player who is unable to measure due to age, injury or disability then ask for assistance from a fellow player. 
  • Consider all shots that may be in the count and confer with your opponent Three that all possibilities have been measured. Indicate to your Skip and Two (rinks) the number of shots won by tapping your shoulder (won), or your side (lost). The number of shots should also be voiced clearly. 
  • Then help the Leads by gently nudging the bowls into a group or line so that they can easily collect them all up using the pusher. This really helps the game move along more quickly and becomes less tiring for everyone.


  1. Lead and Two play their bowls while Three & Skip are at the other end, discussing the formation of the head. 
  2. Then Three walks down to the mat to bowl while the Lead and Two walk the other way and stand behind the Skip at the head. 
  3. After Three has bowled their 2 bowls he walks back to head while the Skip goes to the mat and bowls their 2 bowls. 

Although "Threes Up" is very rarely done because the game does take slightly longer, this is definitely a great way for Threes to develop and learn from experienced Skips, particularly when playing Umbrellas or Friendlies

When agreed by both Captains before the match, "Threes Up" can be done for some of the ends, or even the entire game. 

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details in the privacy policy and accept the service to view the translations.