Category Archives: New Bowlers

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club welcomes all with a curiosity about the game. Come give it a try.

2019 Closing Day & Novice Recognition Day

On Saturday, November 2nd, the Rossmoor Lawn Bowling Club hosted the 2019 PIMD Closing Day and Novice Recognition Day.

It was chilly in the morning but quickly warmed up to a comfortable 75°. Ninty-nine bowlers from around the Bay Area and beyond were on hand to visit with old friends and meet new bowlers. Zarka Popovic, our PIMD president, provided a slide show featuring photos from the National Championships played at San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club in September. Thanks to donations (raffles, etc.) from so many PIMD members toward hosting the National Championships, there was money to spare. All PIMD clubs that provided meals–that included BLBC, were reimbursed. In addition, the remainder of the overage was returned to the PIMD coffers.

Zarka also recognized all the PIMD novices and presented a trophy to this year’s Novice Champion: Michael McLintock. There were three novices from our club: Susan Carlson, Mary Collins and John Watson. (We’re looking for one of them to win the trophy next year.)

Berkeley Lawn bowling Club was well represented by 12 full members (Sarah Allday, Cris Benton, Annie Brillhart, Susan Carlson, Hugo Deaux, Cathy Dinnean, Phil Grattan, Susan Jamart, Cindy Moss, Glenn Nunez, and John Watson) and four dual members (Mary Collins, Sebastian Sciacca and Lydia and Luis Zapata). Happily, five BLBC members were on teams that won money: Sarah Allday, Cindy Moss, Sebastian Sciacca, and Lydia and Luis Zapata. Well done!

Best Retro Sport, plus Solano Stroll

The BLBC is proud to announce that it has been awarded the 2014 Best Retro Sports Activity in the East Bay by the East Bay Express, the free weekly magazine of news and culture. We owe this achievement to the hard work of all who have contributed to the maintenance and promulgation of the Club, not least Dave Rockhold, who insisted we publicize our “retro” appeal, Cris Benton, who devised our snazzy new website that has drawn a lot of viewers, and Ann Brillhart, who has managed the campaign to get groups and companies to use the Club as a venue for parties, team-building sessions and so on. They have been ably assisted by many others, especially those who have devoted hours to coaching newbies, both “walk-ins” to our Saturday and Sunday lessons, as well as the groups, sometimes 50 or more who have enjoyed the Club’s facilities.

BLBC PosterTo further publicize our status, we have had  local graphic designer, Ian Ransley, create a great new Club poster (pictured), which will be prominently featured at our booth for the 40th Annual Solano Stroll on Sunday September 14. The Stroll is one of Berkeley/Albany’s “must” events of the year—a mile long festivity that includes food, music, fun stuff for kids, and many local non-profits. We will be in a prime location—just outside Andronico’s near the north end of Solano Avenue. Members are encouraged to show up (no need for “whites”), lend a hand if you can, but especially bring a non-bowling friend.

The booth will be set up around 9/10am and will be staffed throughout the day until the close of the Stroll at 6pm.

There’s a signal for that!

One of the nice things about lawn bowling is the peaceful nature of the game! None of that incessant clatter of bowling pins and balls being launched.

Ann is asking that I move the jack 6-8" toward the center line.
Ann is asking that I move the jack 6-8″ toward the center line.

Ideally, much of the necessary communication between the skip and his/her team, can (should?) be handled with easy to see hand signals. The most common signals are exchanged during the centering of the jack when the lead stands on the mat and shows the skip which direction and how much to move the jack to get it on the centerline. Hands apart, above the shoulders, both held on the side of the body the jack should move indicate the direction and magnitude of the move. Hands apart, move it further; hands closer together, move it a little. Then, when it’s right, the well-known field goal signal.

Reporting the score is another thing best handled with hand signals. The lead or vice-skip reports the points to the skip on the other end of the green as follows: If your team scored 3 points, use your right hand to pat your left shoulder 3 times; If you team lost those 3 points, slap your thigh3 times slowly. In both cases, move slowly and try to be sure the skip is watching.

There are many more useful hand signals – seek them out. Use them whenever possible instead of hollering back and forth. If you really need to talk, the person in possession of the mat can visit to the head to see the situation.


Improving your delivery

The ‘perfect’ delivery may be a bit elusive, but let’s try to describe one. The bowler has taken the mat, examined the situation in the “head” [where the jack is], decided to bowl forehand or backhand, and has visualized the outcome. While all that was going on, s/he has recalled surface irregularities and whatever other conditions might have changed since the last bowl was delivered.

So, what constitutes a good delivery, aside from one that gets the bowl to the right place? Like most sports, the magic comes when the bowler can reproduce the delivery the same way each and every time. The pendulum-like back swing is controlled and smooth. The grip is firm and the bowl is properly aligned in the hand. Reproducibility is the magic word!

In the cartoon below, consider the two release points [at the circles that represent bowls]. In the upper release, the bowl is released at some elevation above the surface. The higher the release, the more energy is wasted by impacting the surface – THUMP. This undesirable habit is called “dumping” and is hard to reproduce time after time.

In the lower line, the bowl is released at the bottom of the arc, quite close to the grass surface. Little or no energy is lost to the collision of bowl and surface. Properly done, it’s almost silent.

Dumping graphic

Here’s an actual delivery by Jim Corr that shows his refined form.

Jim Corr delivering a bowl

So, to improve your delivery, practice bending your knee to get down closer to the green. Use your “other” hand to stabilize your stance by placing it on the knee you step forward with [the left one for a right-handed bowler], and release the bowl just above the surface. SWOOSH, not THUMP. And, of course, PRACTICE often, and THIMK 😉


Get a grip!

We all need a better grasp of the basics of our game. One of the first things you’ll do as a new student will be to find a bowl that fits your hand. The coaches will ask you to hold a bowl using only the thumb and middle finger of both hands around the large circumference. If your finger tips just meet comfortably, that’s the right size.


Side view – a consistent grip aids delivery.


Front view – Note vertical position of the bowl.

Sometimes a coach will give you a slightly smaller bowl as a beginner to enable a stable grip. How you hold the bowl will affect the way the bowl rolls once it’s released. In the photographs above, you can see one way to hold to bowl to maximize consistency. As you develop your skills, you’ll want to make simple things like the grip as automatic and stable as you possibly can.


Notes on the Green

New initiative: Let’s vary rink layout

The Greens Committeee has determined that, for the integrity of the green, bowling should adhere to a schedule of alternative directions on certain days of the week. Rinks need a chance to recoup in the areas where mats, bowls and feet are placed–typically two to six meters from the ditch. Please note the schedule below and maintain this schedule when bowling ladder games as well as draw games. In other words, you will need to be prepared to bowl east-west if that is what the schedule calls for on the day of your match.

 Set rinks to run North-South on:


 Set rinks to run East-West on:


Upcoming Green Maintenance – April 5 & 6

It is that time again.  Phil relays:

We have asked Jose to plug and sand the green on Saturday April 5th.  This will adversely affect play for approximately a week. So, there will be no draw games scheduled until Friday April 11. Also, because of this, the birthday party scheduled for March will be postponed until April 27th and combined with the April party. We very much regret this inconvenience, but trust that you will understand that maintenance of the greens is a major priority.

So, the grounds crew will plug and fill the green with a bit of leveling flourish here and there. We will have sandy rinks for a few days thereafter. Now, where are those old bowls?

Teamwork and stress – Tips for Skips

Winning or losing; having fun or wasting time…

Neuroscientists have shown again and again that positive feedback produces better performance in team efforts. The competitive hormones are all flowing by virtue of the fact that it’s ‘game on’. Negative feedback has the undesirable effect of creating unnecessary tension. It also tenses the very muscles that need to be relaxed to fully utilize the muscle memory we try so hard to develop.

So, the next time your lead is short, take a tip from neuroscience and send some love. It might even help you – the skip – deliver the bowl you need to save the end.


Practice makes perfect…

We’re so fortunate here in the Bay area. The weather is great and you can practice even during the winter months. Try using two sets of bowls and alternate between short and long jacks. If anyone needs a little extra coaching, talk to one of the coaches – Ted Crum, Ray Francis or Jim Corr.

There are many other drills that you can use to improve your game!

Free Lessons

Our coaches will be on the green on Sunday mornings at 10:00 to give lessons. It’s FREE, and you have nothing to bring except a desire to have some fun and flat soled shoes or sneakers.

Free lessons this Sunday…unless it’s raining.

If you like – and we’d love it – get together a group of four or six and learn together. You’ll be involved in a match after just a few minutes of instruction.