A set of lawn bowls can last you years, so you want to be sure you get the size right so you can have many years to enjoy playing without worrying about holding the bowl.
I’ve helped many new players with this choice, and it is easier and simpler than you think. Just a few tests are between you and getting the correct size of bowl.
At a glance
- The size of lawn bowl is important as it can cause issues with your delivery
- To test a bowl try holding it with your normal grip and holding it upside down
- If it is hard to hold then the bowl is too big and you should try with a smaller bowl
- Keep trying until you find the biggest bowl you can hold comfortably
- On average a man will use a size 3, with most men using a size between 2-4
- On average a woman will use a size 1, with most women using a size between 0-2
Lets look at this in a bit more detail.
Why size matters
Lets face it - size does matter. However “bigger” does not always mean “better”!
As a general rule, you should use the biggest bowl you can hold comfortably. A bigger bowl does have many benefits, including:
- It can help with weight control on heavy greens, as the extra weight aides the pendulum motion of the delivery
- A heavy lawn bowl can be better for weighted shots. A heavier bowl will reach the head with more force, making it easier to remove smaller bowls
- A heavy bowl will require more force to move out of the head. This forces your opponent to apply more weight to their shot than they might be comfortable with
Whilst these are all valid reasons to use a heavier bowl, they are not reason enough to use a bowl too big for you to hold.
Using a bowl that is too big can cause several issues with your delivery, including:
- Slipping out of the hand. A bowl slipping out of the hand can cause your bowls to “dump” into the ground (where the bowl is release too early and it bounces straight into the ground)
- Uncomfortable delivery technique. Many bowlers who use bowls that are too big have to compensate for the lack of grip by adjusting their action - including shortening their delivery and removing their backswing
- Poor grip on the bowl. A poor grip is at best uncomfortable (leading you to not be fully focused on the game) and at worst can cause issues such as wobbling of the bowls, or possibly a strain injury to your fingers
So now we know why you should get the right size, lets look at ways to find the right one for you.
How to choose the right size of bowl
The process of finding the right size lawn bowl is rather simple. All you need to do is pick up a bowl that you think is the right size and check it by using one of the tests below.
If it is uncomfortable in any way then it is too big for you, and you should try again with a size smaller.
If it is comfortable then the size is a good fit for you! If you wish you can try again with a size larger, in case you can go up a size - but this is an optional step.
Hold bowl upside down
How to do the test:
- Pick the bowl up and grip it as if you were about to bowl
- Turn your hand so that you are holding the bowl upside down with your palm facing down
- Hold for 10-15 seconds
If you are able to comfortably hold the bowl for the full time then the bowl is a good size for you.
If the bowl slipped out, or if you were straining your fingers to hold it then the bowl is too big.
Wrap hands around the bowl
How to do the test:
- Wrap both hands around the running surface of the bowl
- Try to get your thumbs and fingers to touch
If you are able to wrap your hands around the bowl so that your fingers and thumbs touch then the bowl is a good size for you.
If your fingers and thumbs don’t touch, then this bowl is too big for you.
How to do the test:
- Play a game of bowls!
The simpliest way to check the size of a bowl is to actually play a game (or at least have a roll up).
All of the tests above are just guides. No one can say that the size of bowl you are using is “wrong”, so long as the bowl is comfortable to play with and you are happy.
When to check your size
You should always be checking the size of bowl to use. This isn’t just a process you need to do when you first start.
Things change, and you may find that a size you used for a few years may actually become uncomfortable or tricky to use over time.
Don’t wait for an issue to arise - be proactive with your testing. Here are some great opportunities to check the size of your lawn bowls:
- When you first start playing the sport
- When you are looking to buy a new set of bowls
- At the start of each outdoor and indoor season
- When ever you feel your grip isn’t as secure as you’d like
If your grip feels uncomfortable, or if you feel your fingers ache after a game, then you should be looking to changing down a size or two. Just go through the steps above and check.
Here are answers to common questions around the size of lawn bowl to use.
Best way to test a size
In my opinion, the best way to test whether a bowl is a good size for you is to hold the bowl upside down using your normal delivery grip.
If you can hold it there comfortably, then you have great control over the bowl and you are ready to play!
Best size of lawn bowl for a lady
On average a lady will use a size between 0 and 2, with the most common size being a size 1.
Best size of lawn bowl for a man
On average a man will use a size between 2 and 4, with the most common size being a size 3.
These are just a rough guides and it is best to check what size is best for you in case you are above or below those ranges.