Indoor Bowls Techniques for Playing on Crowded Rinks

Greetings, fellow indoor bowls enthusiasts! If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the challenges of playing on crowded rinks, fear not. In this article, we will explore some tried and tested techniques that will help you navigate through the chaos and improve your game. So, grab your bowls and let’s dive in!

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Maintain a Strong Stance and Balance

1. Position your feet shoulder-width apart

When playing on crowded rinks, maintaining a strong stance and balance is crucial. Start by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart. This widens your base of support and provides stability as you move around the rink. Make sure your feet are parallel to each other and pointed towards the direction you want to play.

2. Distribute your weight evenly

Once you have positioned your feet, distribute your weight evenly between both legs. This will prevent you from leaning too much towards one side and help you maintain a stable and balanced position throughout your shot. Keep your body upright and avoid leaning forward or backward.

3. Engage your core muscles

To further enhance your stance and balance, engage your core muscles. Your core includes the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and pelvis. By activating these muscles, you create a solid foundation and increase your stability on the rink. Imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine to engage your core.

4. Bend your knees slightly

Another important aspect of maintaining a strong stance is to bend your knees slightly. This helps you lower your center of gravity, making it easier to shift your weight and change direction quickly. Additionally, bending your knees provides shock absorption, reducing the impact on your joints as you move around the rink.

5. Find your personal balance point

Each player has a slightly different balance point that feels most comfortable to them. Experiment with shifting your weight forward and backward until you find the point where you feel most stable and in control. This may vary depending on the shot you’re playing, so it’s essential to practice and develop a sense of your personal balance.

6. Maintain a relaxed upper body

While it’s important to have a strong lower body stance, it’s equally crucial to keep your upper body relaxed. Tension in your upper body can affect your accuracy and fluidity of movement. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid hunching or tensing up. This will allow for a smoother delivery and better overall control of the bowls.

7. Practice balance exercises

Improving your balance on crowded rinks requires practice. Incorporate specific balance exercises into your training routine to strengthen your muscles and improve your stability. This could include exercises like standing on one leg, performing squats on an unstable surface, or using a balance board. Regular practice will help you develop a solid foundation of balance and stability.

Master the Art of Controlled Weight Shots

1. Understand the concept of weight in indoor bowls

Weight refers to the speed or force with which you deliver your bowls. In crowded rinks, having control over the weight of your shots is crucial to avoid collisions and navigate through tight spaces. Understanding the concept of weight and how it affects the movement of your bowls is fundamental to mastering controlled weight shots.

2. Practice draw shots

Draw shots are played with a gentle and controlled weight to bring your bowl close to the target. They require finesse and accuracy, making them particularly useful in crowded rinks. To practice draw shots, aim to deliver your bowl with just enough weight to reach the target area. Focus on a smooth and consistent delivery, and adjust the weight as needed based on the speed of the carpet and the position of other bowls.

3. Experiment with different release points

The release point is the moment when you let go of the bowl. Experiment with releasing the bowl at different points along your delivery path to achieve different weights. Releasing the bowl slightly earlier will result in a lighter weight, while releasing it later will give it more momentum. By varying your release point, you can adapt to different situations on crowded rinks and fine-tune the weight of your shots.

4. Develop touch and feel

Developing touch and feel is essential for mastering controlled weight shots. This involves developing a sense of the carpet’s speed and how much force is required to reach your target. Spend time practicing on different carpets and take note of how your bowls react to different weights. Over time, you will develop a natural instinct for the right amount of weight needed in various situations.

5. Use visualization techniques

Visualization is a powerful tool for improving your controlled weight shots. Before each shot, take a moment to visualize the path of your bowl and the desired weight you want to achieve. Imagine the bowl gliding smoothly along the carpet and coming to rest exactly where you want it. This mental rehearsal can help you execute the shot with greater precision and control.

6. Seek guidance from experienced players

Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced players who have mastered controlled weight shots. They can provide valuable insights, tips, and techniques that can help you improve your game. Observe their delivery, ask for advice, and practice alongside them to learn from their expertise. Their guidance can accelerate your progress and help you refine your controlled weight shots.

7. Embrace a growth mindset

Mastering controlled weight shots takes time and practice. Embrace a growth mindset and view each shot as an opportunity to learn and improve. Accept that not every shot will be perfect, but see the value in the experience gained from each attempt. With perseverance and a positive attitude, you will steadily enhance your ability to deliver controlled weight shots in crowded rinks.

Utilize the Power of Communication

1. Establish clear hand signals

In a crowded rink, effective communication with your teammates becomes crucial to avoid collisions and coordinate your shots. Establish a set of clear hand signals that everyone on your team understands. For example, a raised hand can indicate a draw shot, a clenched fist can represent a drive, and pointing can indicate the desired direction of the bowl. Practice these signals during training sessions to ensure smooth communication during actual games.

2. Develop a verbal communication system

In addition to hand signals, a verbal communication system can further enhance coordination on crowded rinks. Assign specific phrases or keywords to indicate the type of shot or the weight required. For example, saying “short” could mean a controlled weight shot, while “full” could indicate a shot with more force. Make sure everyone on your team is familiar with the verbal cues and practice using them to streamline your communication.

3. Maintain a constant dialogue

Communication should be an ongoing process throughout the game. Encourage your teammates to provide updates on the positions of other bowls, potential obstacles, and any changes in the game plan. A constant dialogue will help everyone stay informed and make quick decisions based on the ever-changing dynamics of the rink. Remember to communicate not only with your skips but also with your fellow leads and thirds for effective teamwork.

4. Adapt to different communication styles

Each player may have a different communication style, so it’s important to adapt and be flexible. Some players prefer concise and direct communication, while others may need more detailed explanations. Learn to gauge the preferences of your teammates and adjust your communication style accordingly. The better you understand and accommodate each other, the smoother your communication will be on crowded rinks.

5. Practice non-verbal communication

In situations where verbal communication may be challenging, such as when the crowd is loud or when you’re playing in a noisy environment, non-verbal communication becomes invaluable. Develop non-verbal cues with your teammates, such as eye contact, nods, or even subtle gestures. These non-verbal cues can convey essential information without the need for words and facilitate effective communication in challenging conditions.

6. Foster trust and teamwork

Effective communication is built on trust and teamwork. Encourage a supportive and collaborative environment within your team, where everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas. Trust that your teammates will provide accurate information and act on it accordingly. By fostering trust and teamwork, your communication will become more efficient and contribute to a harmonious and successful game on crowded rinks.

7. Review and improve communication after each game

After each game, take the time to review your team’s communication performance. Discuss what worked well and identify areas for improvement. Reflect on instances where miscommunication occurred and brainstorm strategies to avoid similar situations in the future. Continuous evaluation and refinement of your communication skills will lead to better coordination and enhanced performance on crowded rinks.

Adapt Your Line of Delivery

1. Assess the playing area

When playing on crowded rinks, it’s crucial to assess the playing area before each shot. Take a moment to observe the positions of other bowls, potential obstacles, and any available gaps. This will help you determine the best line of delivery for your shot and avoid unnecessary collisions or disruptions.

2. Be flexible with your line

Adaptability is key when it comes to your line of delivery on crowded rinks. Be prepared to adjust your intended line based on the changing dynamics of the rink. If your initial line is obstructed by other bowls, look for alternative paths to reach your target. This may involve playing wider or narrower lines than originally planned, depending on the available space.

3. Utilize the bias of your bowls

Indoor bowls are designed with a bias, which causes them to curve as they travel down the rink. Understanding the bias of your bowls can be advantageous when playing on crowded rinks. By utilizing the bias, you can navigate around other bowls and strategically position your shots. Experiment with different lines and angles to take full advantage of the bias and optimize your deliveries.

4. Play shorter, controlled shots

In crowded rinks, it’s often beneficial to play shorter, controlled shots rather than long, aggressive shots. By playing shorter shots, you reduce the risk of cluttering the rink with bowls and increase your chances of success. Focus on precision and accuracy rather than attempting risky long shots that could potentially cause collisions or disrupt the flow of the game.

5. Take advantage of empty spaces

Keep an eye out for empty spaces on the rink and use them to your advantage. These spaces may arise when opponents’ bowls are removed or when players are targeting different areas of the rink. Identify these openings and aim to deliver your bowls into these spaces. This strategic positioning can give you a competitive edge and increase the likelihood of scoring points.

6. Adapt based on opponent tactics

Observe and adapt to the tactics employed by your opponents. If they consistently occupy certain areas of the rink, adjust your line of delivery to avoid direct confrontation. Instead, aim to position your bowls in areas where they have less control or where you can disrupt their intended shots. By adapting to your opponents’ tactics, you can effectively counter their strategies and maintain a competitive edge.

7. Develop a repertoire of delivery lines

To excel in playing on crowded rinks, it’s beneficial to develop a repertoire of different delivery lines. Practice various lines during training sessions to expand your range and versatility. This will enable you to approach different shots from multiple angles and adapt to the specific challenges posed by crowded rinks. The more delivery lines you have in your repertoire, the more options you’ll have to navigate through the chaos and achieve success.

Sharpen Your Peripheral Vision

1. Understand the importance of peripheral vision

Peripheral vision refers to your ability to see objects and movement outside the direct line of sight. In crowded rinks, sharpening your peripheral vision is crucial for effectively navigating through the chaos and avoiding collisions. It allows you to maintain awareness of the positions of other bowls, potential obstacles, and the general flow of the game.

2. Practice scanning the playing area

Scanning the playing area is a fundamental exercise for improving your peripheral vision. Train yourself to regularly scan the rink, taking in the positions of other bowls, players, and potential obstacles. Start by focusing on a specific point and gradually expand your visual field to include more peripheral information. With practice, your scanning will become more efficient and automatic, enhancing your overall awareness on crowded rinks.

3. Improve your reaction time

In crowded rinks, quick reaction time is essential to respond to the ever-changing dynamics of the game. Enhancing your peripheral vision can help improve your reaction time, as you’ll have a greater awareness of potential hazards and opportunities. Practice reaction drills, such as responding to visual cues or simulating common scenarios on crowded rinks, to train your brain and body to react swiftly and effectively.

4. Increase your visual acuity

Visual acuity refers to the clarity and sharpness of your vision. Improving your visual acuity can enhance your ability to detect fine details and movements in your peripheral vision. Regular eye exercises, such as focusing on distant objects or tracking moving objects, can help improve visual acuity. Additionally, maintaining good eye health through regular check-ups and proper eye care practices can contribute to optimal visual acuity.

5. Develop situational awareness

Situational awareness involves being fully present and aware of your surroundings. It’s not just about seeing with your eyes but also interpreting and understanding the information your senses provide. Cultivate a sense of situational awareness on crowded rinks by actively observing, listening, and processing the information around you. This heightened awareness will enable you to make better decisions and react appropriately in fast-paced and crowded environments.

6. Practice peripheral vision drills

Dedicate specific practice sessions to improving your peripheral vision. There are various drills you can incorporate into your training routine. For example, you can set up cones or markers around the rink and practice scanning your peripheral vision while maintaining your focus on a specific target. Another drill involves playing a game with a partner where you both try to spot and react to objects or movements in your peripheral vision. These drills will sharpen your peripheral vision and enhance your ability to process information from the entire playing area.

>7. Utilize visual cues from other players

Observing the movements and body language of other players can provide valuable visual cues that complement your peripheral vision. Pay attention to their reactions, gestures, and changes in their stance. These cues can give you insights into their intended shots and help you anticipate their actions. By combining your peripheral vision with these visual cues, you’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of the game and be better prepared to react accordingly.

Develop a Tactical Approach

1. Analyze the playing conditions

Before stepping onto a crowded rink, take the time to analyze the playing conditions. Assess factors such as the speed of the carpet, the shape of the rink, and any specific challenges posed by the venue. Understanding these conditions will allow you to develop a tactical approach that takes advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of the environment.

2. Anticipate the movements of other players

In a crowded rink, it’s essential to anticipate the movements of other players. Observe their patterns and tendencies, and try to predict their next moves. By anticipating their actions, you can strategically position your shots to counter their strategies or take advantage of gaps they create. This level of tactical awareness will give you an edge in crowded situations.

3. Plan your shots strategically

Develop a strategic mindset when planning your shots on crowded rinks. Consider the positions of other bowls, the layout of the rink, and the potential risks and rewards of each shot. Aim to play shots that maximize your chances of success while minimizing the chances of collisions or disruption. Visualize the desired outcome of each shot and strategize accordingly to achieve your goals.

4. Adapt your strategy on the fly

While planning your shots is important, it’s equally crucial to be adaptable and adjust your strategy on the fly. In a dynamic and ever-changing game, circumstances can shift rapidly, requiring you to reassess and modify your original plan. Be open to changing your approach based on the positions of other bowls, the movements of opponents, and the specific challenges of the rink. This flexibility will enable you to make informed decisions and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

5. Consider the overall game plan

Indoor bowls is a team sport, and considering the overall game plan is essential for success on crowded rinks. Collaborate with your teammates, discuss the best course of action, and align your individual shots with the team’s strategy. Take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and leverage their skills to maximize your collective performance. By working together towards a common goal, you’ll enhance your chances of achieving victory in crowded rinks.

6. Play more conservatively when necessary

In challenging and crowded situations, it may be wise to adopt a more conservative approach. This means focusing on playing controlled shots, avoiding unnecessary risks, and prioritizing accuracy over aggression. By playing conservatively, you minimize the chances of collisions or disruption and increase your chances of consistently scoring points. Assess the specific circumstances of each shot and make strategic decisions that prioritize stability and control.

7. Learn from each game and adjust your tactics

After each game, take the time to reflect on your tactical approach and its effectiveness. Discuss with your teammates what worked well and what could be improved. Analyze the outcomes of your shots and evaluate how your tactics influenced the overall game. Use these insights to refine your tactics and adjust your approach for future games on crowded rinks. Continuous learning and adaptation will enable you to continually improve your tactical prowess.

Stay Calm and Focused

1. Cultivate a pre-shot routine

A pre-shot routine is a series of actions or mental rituals that you perform before each shot. Cultivating a pre-shot routine can help you stay calm and focused amidst the chaos of a crowded rink. This routine can include deep breathing exercises, visualizing the desired shot, or repeating a calming mantra. By consistently following your pre-shot routine, you create a sense of familiarity and stability, allowing you to approach each shot with clarity and composure.

2. Practice mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness involves being fully present and aware of the current moment. Practicing mindfulness techniques can help you stay calm and focused on crowded rinks. Pay attention to your breath, the sensation of your body, and the sounds around you. Whenever your mind starts to wander or gets overwhelmed by external distractions, gently bring your focus back to the present moment. Regular mindfulness practice will enhance your ability to maintain a calm and focused state of mind during games.

3. Embrace positive self-talk

Your internal dialogue has a significant impact on your mindset and performance. Embrace positive self-talk by replacing negative thoughts or doubts with affirmations and encouraging statements. Remind yourself of your skills, past successes, and the progress you’ve made. Believe in your abilities and maintain a positive attitude, even when facing challenging situations on crowded rinks. Positive self-talk will help boost your confidence and keep you focused on the task at hand.

4. Block out external distractions

In crowded rinks, there can be various external distractions that can disrupt your focus. Train yourself to block out these distractions and maintain your concentration on the game. Develop mental strategies, such as visualizing a bubble around you that keeps out distractions, or focusing solely on the target you are aiming for. By consciously directing your attention away from distractions, you can stay fully engaged with the game and perform at your best.

5. Learn from setbacks and maintain perspective

Setbacks and challenges are inevitable in any sport, including indoor bowls. Instead of becoming discouraged or frustrated, view setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Maintain perspective by reminding yourself that each shot is just a small part of the overall game. Approach each setback as a chance to improve and adjust your strategy. By maintaining a growth mindset and learning from every experience, you’ll stay calm and focused, regardless of the circumstances on crowded rinks.

6. Visualize success

Visualization is a powerful technique for enhancing performance. Take a few moments before each shot to visualize yourself executing the perfect shot. Imagine the bowl smoothly gliding along the carpet, precisely reaching your target, and achieving the desired outcome. Visualizing success primes your mind and body for optimal performance, helping you stay calm and focused on crowded rinks.

7. Practice mental resilience

Mental resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and maintain focus under pressure. Cultivate mental resilience through regular practice and exposure to challenging situations. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and embrace the discomfort that comes with it. By gradually increasing your tolerance for pressure and uncertainty, you’ll develop the mental resilience necessary to stay calm and focused on crowded rinks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How can I improve my balance and stance?

To improve your balance and stance, practice standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and weight evenly distributed. Engage your core muscles for added stability. Experiment with different positions and angles to find what works best for you.

2. What are some effective hand signals for communication?

Effective hand signals for communication can vary among teams, but some common ones include pointing in the desired direction, making a fist to indicate a drive, and holding up fingers to indicate the desired weight of the shot. Establish clear signals within your team and practice using them consistently.

3. How can I improve my peripheral vision?

Improving peripheral vision requires practice and awareness. Incorporate specific exercises into your training routine that focus on expanding your visual field and enhancing your ability to perceive movement in your periphery. Regular eye check-ups and maintaining good eye health are also important for optimal peripheral vision.

4. What should I do if there is limited space to play my intended shot?

If there is limited space to play your intended shot, consider adjusting your strategy. Look for alternative paths or areas on the rink where you can position your bowls strategically. Adaptability and flexibility are key in crowded rinks, so be prepared to modify your approach based on the available space.

5. How can I stay calm and focused under pressure?

Staying calm and focused under pressure requires mental preparation and practice. Incorporate relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization, into your pre-shot routine. Cultivate a positive mindset and maintain perspective by focusing on the present moment rather than becoming overwhelmed by external distractions.

6. Are there any specific techniques for playing on crowded rinks?

Yes, the techniques mentioned in this article are specifically tailored for playing on crowded rinks. They involve maintaining a strong stance and balance, mastering controlled weight shots, utilizing effective communication, adapting your line of delivery, sharpening your peripheral vision, developing a tactical approach, and staying calm and focused. Practice these techniques consistently to improve your performance in crowded situations.

7. What is the importance of adaptability in indoor bowls?

Adaptability is crucial in indoor bowls as it allows you to adjust your game plan according to the changing circumstances on the rink. Being adaptable increases your chances of success in crowded situations where you may need to modify your shots, strategy, or communication to navigate through the chaos effectively.


Indoor bowls on crowded rinks can be a challenging endeavor, but with the right techniques and mindset, you can overcome the obstacles and excel in your game. By maintaining a strong stance and balance, mastering controlled weight shots, utilizing effective communication, adapting your line of delivery, sharpening your peripheral vision, developing a tactical approach, and staying calm and focused, you can navigate through the chaos and achieve success.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if it takes time to master these techniques. Keep honing your skills, stay positive, and enjoy the game. Now, it’s time to put these techniques into action and elevate your indoor bowls game to new heights!

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is for educational purposes only. The author and publisher are not responsible for any consequences that arise from following the techniques and suggestions mentioned herein.

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