The Caterpillar – Basic Fundamentals

You may hear from many bowlers that “it’s a draw game” and it’s true.  Despite the thrill of making difficult or highlight shots like trailing the jack, driving at a head or picking a bowl (or the jack) clean, it is a draw game.  Every member of a bowls team should be able to draw in any situation and it is a shot used in every end, in every game ,where other shots are peppered throughout the game in infrequent numbers.  If you or your team cannot draw an open jack when the opportunity presents itself, it will be extremely hard for you to make it anywhere in bowls.

I do spend a lot of time practicing harder shots, but I always need to remind myself that I need to have a great draw bowl.  If I couldn’t draw, I wouldn’t be going anywhere in bowls.

I will be using the term ML in the below description.  It simply means “Mat Length” or the length of a regulation bowls mat.

“The Caterpillar” is a term used by many bowlers which initially came to us through a new training program for the High Performance Squad (Canadian National Team).  It is a very simple drill in which you try to deliver all four of your bowls to rest on the original bowl.   You would repeat this over and over again so you are constantly throwing a nice grouping of bowls each time.  The key here is that whenever a bowl falls short of ML to your original bowl you should walk up, retrieve the bad bowl and replay the bowl to land within ML.  This may start as a really annoying drill if you are having trouble landing your bowls consistently within ML.  Having to walk up time after time to get the bad bowl and replay it takes patience, determination and a will not to accept mediocrity.



It’s not a matter of touching the first bowl, but grouping them within a ML of each other.  It’s being able to repeat a shot over and over, which is a fundamental part of bowls.  If you draw the jack on your first attempt, you should be able to do it again or be very close.  If you can’t master that, then you’re in for a heap of trouble.

The idea of this drill is to be a warm-up to other drills.  So playing 4-5 ends back and forth of this should get you into a groove and set you up to start working on some more skilled and finesse shots.  Having this at the start of each of your training sessions makes sure you practice your draw every time and also is a nice easy lead in to harder stuff.

I personally love this as a quick start to my training.


2 thoughts on “The Caterpillar – Basic Fundamentals”

  1. One of the important parts of the caterpillar is to realize that we are not machines and we all miss shots. By being aware of what we are doing during our pre delivery we can identify WHY a bowl did not make the caterpillar and then make the corrwction on the next bolw.

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