How to Play

The Game

The object of the game is to roll the bowl as close to the jack (the little white ball) as possible . The closest to the jack scores a point. That's it!

Bowls is a strategic, challenging and fun sport that can be enjoyed by anyone. It is played on a large smooth grass surface called a “green”. Lawn bowls are large, hard resin balls with a bias to them, so that they travel along an elliptical path, rather than going straight. The object of the game is to roll your bowls closer to the target than your opponents. The target is a small white ball called a “jack”. The jack is rolled the length of the green to start each end. Players from each team taking turns rolling their bowls down the green toward the jack until all the bowls have been played.

Learn more about selecting your bowls and the etiquette of the game below.

Selecting Your Bowls

Size affects your grip

  • Bowls are commonly marked with sizes 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, i.e., from smaller to larger. Larger sizes can range up to 7.

  • Select size to suit your hand so as to ensure a comfortable grip. Use the largest bowl you can comfortably handle.

  • Wrap both hands around the widest running surface of the bowl. If your middle fingers touch at the bottom and your thumbs at the top, that’s usually your size.

  • If the bowl tends to slip or drop on delivery, try a smaller size or lighter weight (see below).

Weight affects momentum

  • Bowls are commonly marked M (medium) or H (heavy) to indicate total weight.

  • Select weight for comfort with your grip and with delivery.

  • A heavier weight gives more momentum and, theoretically, less effort on delivery.

  • Weight does not affect trajectory, which is a function of bias (see below). (Bowls were, at one time, weighted on one side to determine trajectory, i.e. a “heavier”bowl would have a wider trajectory than a lighter one. This is not true of modern bowls.)

Bias determines trajectory

  • Bowls are shaped with a bias along the running surface so that the bowl tends to tilt and curve to one side as its speed decreases.

  • A narrow bias takes less grass in a slight curve. A wider bias takes more grass in a more pronounced curve.

  • Bias varies with the make and model of the bowl. In the current BVLBC inventory, for example, the most common bowls are Drakes Pride Professional Plus and Henselite Classic, both of which have wide trajectories.

  • Theoretically your choice of bias should be influenced by the green speed where you will be playing and by the position you normally play. But experience will determine your personal preference.

Bowls Etiquette

  1. Dress appropriately for all games. Flat sole shoes (runners/joggers ok)

  2. Greet your team members and opponents at the start of the game and congratulate or compliment them at the end of play. Shaking hands before a match and at its conclusion is part of the fine tradition of the game.

  3. Compliment your opponent on a good shot.

  4. Admit a fluke with grace.

  5. Stand still when a player is on the mat.

  6. Do not talk or make a noise behind the mat when a player is about to deliver a bowl.

  7. Remain behind the mat or outside the head and behind the skip when it is not your turn to play. Always remember that as soon as your bowl has come to rest possession of the rink passes to your opponent.

  8. Keep to your own rink. Do not become a wanderer and distract other bowlers. Walk down the center of your rink when changing ends.

  9. On sunny days be aware of your shadow. Do not let it mask the jack nor permit it to fall in front of the mat when a player is about to bowl.

  10. Try to avoid obscuring boundary pegs, rink plates or rink markers.

  11. Never criticize your opponent, the greens, or your own team members. If you cannot say something positive, don't say anything.

  12. Pay attention to the game. Nothing can be more frustrating to your teammates that to have them feel that you are not giving your full attention and best efforts to the game.

  13. Always appear to be enjoying the game.

  14. Stand well back from the head when drive shots are being played and warn others of adjacent rinks of the fact.

  15. Learn the Laws of the Game and abide by them.

  16. Be a gracious winner and a good loser.