Roles and responsibilities of members in a fours team – PART 1 OF 2

by jgrey on July 17, 2020

By Mal Mackney

In this first article of two, I am going to look at how a team works, the responsibilities of individual members and how they work together to make a successful team. In this article, we will focus on the lead and second position in a Fours’ team.

A team of four can be likened to a four-speed gearbox in a car.

In a car, first gear is used to get the car moving, while second gear helps continue this forward momentum. Third gear propels the car to top speed and fourth gear maintains the forward momentum.

In a team of four, the lead sets the team up and gets it moving forward. The second backs the lead up and helps with the momentum the team has in the end. This month we will look in more detail at the lead and second roles and what they entail.

To achieve the best result for the team, each member must know and embrace their role in the team. No team member is any more important than any other member.


The lead rolls the jack to the length that is going to most advantage the team. This is usually determined by the skip. The rolling of the jack to any desired length is of the utmost importance and all leads MUST practice this skill as part of every one of their practice sessions. An incorrectly rolled jack has cost many teams many competitions.

During the trial ends, the lead should endeavour to find the kindest side of the green. Having determined this, the lead should then endeavour to play totally on that side of the green, for example, forehand up and backhand down. The lead should never change this unless directed by the skip. As such, a lead needs to practise both forehand and backhand draw and be equally proficient with both hands.

The lead must endeavour to get his bowls as close as possible to the jack. Try to never leave the head without at least a good second shot. A bowl of 30cm short is useless if the jack is moved back even just 10cm. The ideal is to have one on the jack and the other up to a metre behind. Once again, short or even Jack High bowls should try to be avoided. Try to draw “through” the jack.

Be prepared: ensure all personal equipment is ready and available


The second must be very versatile, able to play every shot in the book, be mentally tough and be able to cover whenever the lead misses. The ideal position after the lead and second have finished playing is to have two bowls within one mat width of jack and two bowls up to 1.5 meters behind. The second must be able to play exact controlled weighted shots (1, 2 meters over), draw positional shots to cover potential problems and any other shot the skip may determine.

A good second will never assume what shot is to be played and will always wait for their skip’s directions. Even when playing their second bowl, the second must wait for instructions. As teams develop their understanding this may be a slight hand gesture, a nod of the head or even simple eye contact.

The second must also keep the scorecard and keep the scoreboard up to date, plus consult with his opposition to ensure the board and cards are also accurate. It is also the second’s responsibility to introduce his team to the opposition.

Be prepared: Biro/pencil plus spare, scorecard folder (if preferred)

We will look at the roles of the third and skip in part two. Remember that there is no “I” in team and each member must work together for the best possible outcome for their team.