Lawn bowls is a sport for everyone – but that doesn’t mean it is without it’s own jargon. One of the most important to understand before you start playing competitive bowls is the difference between forehand and backhand.

What is the difference between forehand and backhand in lawn bowls?

In short, a hand in bowls is the side of the jack that you bowl on. Your skip will ask for a different hand in certain circumstances, usually to avoid a bowl that is in your way or if there is a risk of moving the jack closer to an opponents bowl.

What is a forehand lawn bowl?

A forehand lawn bowl is bowled with the bias on the inside, so that it moves back across the line of your body after you’ve rolled it.

Forehand delivery for a right handed lawn bowler

This means that the hand is different for a right handed and left handed bowler. The above image shows the line taken by a forehand delivery for a right-handed bowler. This would also be a backhand delivery for a left-handed bowler.

What is backhand lawn bowl?

Similarly, a delivery that follows the path in the image below would be a backhand delivery for a right handed bowler.

Backhand delivery for a right handed bowler

Why would you choose a different hand in lawn bowls?

Lawn bowls strategy is far more complex than it looks. Depending on the format of the game, the position you’re playing and the state of the head, there are many reasons why you might choose to change or stay on a hand during an end. Knowing the best hand comes from experience, and the more you play lawn bowls the better you will be at choosing.

For example, a lead in a pennant match will ideally stay on the same hand for the duration of the match. This is because there are fewer other bowls on the green when the lead bowls, so the risk of hitting an opponents bowl is low. A skip, however, will need to change hands often depending on the match scenario.