A Simple Guide to the Lawn Bowls Game – Lawn Bowls 101

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 8, 2023

The lawn bowls game is more popular than ever. People everywhere are keen to return to the great outdoors and take part in an occupation that takes your mind off work. Playing a game of lawn bowls allows you to meet you new people and engage in some tough competition.

You’ve heard it before: Lawn Bowls is for Everyone! If you can lift a 500g bag of sugar with one hand then you can play bowls. This includes those with disabilities such as blindness or being wheelchair-bound. All Bowls SA coaches know how to assist every bowler. Enquire at your local bowling club, where you will be welcomed and introduced to the lawn bowls game.

How to play lawn bowls

Lawn bowls is a sport in which players roll biased balls, called bowls, towards a smaller ball called a “jack” or “kitty.” The objective of the game is to roll your bowls closer to the jack than your opponent’s bowls. The game can be played on a grass or synthetic surface and is typically played with teams of one, two, or four players.

To start a lawn bowls game, a coin is tossed to determine which team will roll the jack and which end of the playing surface will be used. The team that wins the coin toss will roll the jack, and the opposing team will roll the first bowl. The jack is rolled first, and then the bowls are rolled in alternating turns. The team that gets the closest bowl to the jack earns a point for each of their bowls that are closer to the jack than the closest bowl of the opposing team. The team that reaches a predetermined number of points first wins the game.

The key to playing a lawn bowls game is in the way the bowls are rolled. A bowl has a bias, which means it will curve to the side as it is rolled. To compensate for this bias, players must aim to the side of the jack in the opposite direction of the bias. The speed at which the bowl is rolled, as well as the amount of spin imparted on the bowl, will also affect the bowl’s trajectory.

In addition to the basics of the lawn bowls game, there are other rules that apply, such as the order of play, what to do when the jack goes out of bounds, etc. It’s important to familiarize yourself with all the rules and regulations of the game before playing.

Here is a guide to the lawn bowls game.

How is lawn bowls played?

An individual player, or a team of two, three or four players, plays against an opposing team with the same make-up. Both individuals (in a singles game) or the front ranks of the teams (first and second players) stand at one end of the green. Each team has a skip, a sort of captain who is generally a strong player who can play a variety of different shots. The skip stands at the other end of the rink (the lane on the green).

The skips toss for the mat using a bowl or a coin, which enables the team that wins the toss to place the mat along the centre line to the point where the skip indicates. The first player (the lead) in the winning-toss team delivers the jack (the small white. spherical target ball) to the spot on the centre line where the skip indicates. Then each player in succession alternates with his opposite number to deliver their bowls towards the target – the jack, also sometimes called the kitty or simply the white ball.

Once all the players in both teams (or both individuals in a singles game) have delivered their bowls to other end, the score for the “end”, as it is called, is calculated. The team of the bowl that lies nearest the jack gets one point and another point for any successive bowls nearest the jack. If the opposing team lies second nearest, then the team whose bowl is nearest the jack gets one point only.

Then all the bowls are “kicked” up to a point 1 metre behind the 2 metre mark and 1 metre to the side, and the next end begins. The lead of the team that won the previous end takes the mat and positions it, delivers the jack, and then all the bowlers deliver their bowls, and so on. Once all the ends have been played (this is pre-determined except for singles where the winner is the first to gain 21 points) then the team with the most points wins.

How long is a game of bowls?

A lawn bowls game typically takes two to two-and-a-half hours to play. This duration makes bowls an excellent game for the afternoon. Usually the game begins at 2pm. The players break for tea at about 3.30pm and resume play after that. At 5pm the game is over and everyone heads for the pub and braai area. The time calculation is based on a game of fours or trips. Pairs games go slightly faster.

What is lawn bowls called in the USA?

The lawn bowls game in the USA is called Lawn Bowls, Lawn Bowling, Indoor Bowls or Indoor Lawn bowling. It is important that there is a distinction made between the lawn bowls game and the type of bowling that takes place in bowling alleys, which, of course, is much more popular in the USA than the lawn bowls game.

Is lawn bowling easy?

It is easy to have a pleasurable game of social bowls. And it is easy to take part in Business League bowls, barefoot bowls and sponsored fun days at a bowls club. To become a proficient District or National level player is not so easy. That requires years of playing experience, fitness training, specialised coaching and hours of practice.

However, anyone who can lift a 500g packet of sugar in one hand can play an enjoyable lawn bowls game. There is a level of play for everyone. Enquire at the closest club about how to start. Here is an article on how to get started in lawn bowls.

Why do the elderly like lawn bowls?

A good game of lawn bowls typically takes 2 to 3 hours to play, breaking for tea at half time. Therefore this is a game for people who have time on their hands and these are usually retired people. That’s why you see older people on lawn bowling greens. Add to that the affordability of the game (even penny-pinching oldsters can afford membership fees), the wonderful social interaction that comes with bowls and the fact that the lawn bowls game is suitable for every age and fitness level, then it’s easy to understand why the elderly love lawn bowls.

Do young people play lawn bowls?

Worldwide young people are taking to bowls as a casual sport, playing Business League bowls and Action Bowls in the evenings. They also play in weekend tournaments. Also, tens of thousands of young people worldwide play competitive lawn bowls. The national squads of the top lawn bowls playing nations (Australia, South Africa, England, Scotland, etc.) are reluctant to include players aged over 30.

What is a lawn bowls lane called?

A lawn bowls lane is called a “rink”. There are usually six rinks on a green but if more than twelve teams (or individual players in a singles game) need to be accommodated then the green keeper can make the rinks narrower to accommodate seven rinks on a green.

What is a lawn bowls pitch called?

A lawn bowls pitch is called a “green”. The name relates to the colour of the lawn but also to the origins of the lawn bowls game. Lawn bowling originated on the village greens of England. Bowling greens are square.

The physical size of a green, including the ditches all around the edges is between 31 and 40 metres. If you are playing on a green that is a metre or two longer or shorter than you are accustomed to, then this can affect your judgement of distance. So be sure to pace out the metres during the trial ends and look for guides to distance on the sides of the green. (Thanks to Silverstream Bowls for the diagram below.)

What is 100 up in lawn bowls?

A “100 up” in a lawn bowls game refers to a game or tournament where the first team to reach 100 points wins. Points are awarded for bowls that are closest to the “jack,” which is a small white ball that is the target in the game.

In a 100-up game or tournament, each end (a series of bowls played by both teams) is scored based on the number of bowls that are closer to the jack (the small white target ball) than the closest bowl of the opposing team.

In 100 up the team with the closest bowl earns one point for each of their bowls that are closer to the jack than the opposing team’s closest bowl. The team with the most points after an end earns the points for that end.The game continues until one team reaches 100 points.

In the event of a tie (when both teams have the same number of points), the game may continue until a clear winner is determined.

The team with the bowl closest to the jack earns points, and the number of points awarded depends on the number of bowls that are closer to the jack than any of the opposing team’s bowls. If no team reaches 100 points, the game or tournament can continue until a team reaches that score.

What does jack high mean in lawn bowls?

In the lawn bowls game, players say a bowl is jack high when it is lying level with the jack. In other words, it is lying in a position that is laterally aligned with the jack. The jack does not have to be touching the bowl. It must just be lying directly alongside the bowl.The skip may tell the players at the other end of the green this information at this might influence how the player attacks the head.

Note: It is really better to say that the bowl is “level with the jack” rather than “jack high” because some players are confused by the term. They think the bowl is past the jack or lying in front of it. When in doubt, use plain English when playing lawn bowls.

What is the white ball in lawn bowls called?

The white ball in lawn bowls is the target ball around which the game revolves. The white ball is called the “jack” or the “kitty” or simply the “white ball”. In indoor bowls especially, sometimes the jack is yellow. That is because it is more easily visible to the players under electric lights.

How heavy is a lawn bowls jack?

According to lawn bowls rules, a lawn bowls jack must weigh between 10g and 18g. Regarding the dimensions of the jack, it must be perfectly spherical and white (for outdoor play) and have a diameter of not less than 6.27 cm, nor more than 6.42 cm.