The Basics of Lawn Bowls

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 21, 2023

Lawn bowls is a fascinating and strategic sport that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for many centuries. It requires skill, concentration, and precision. In this article, we will delve into the basics of lawn bowls, exploring its history, rules, equipment, and techniques. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer to the game, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips to enhance your understanding and performance on the green.

The Origins and Evolution of Lawn Bowls

Lawn bowls traces its roots back to ancient civilizations, with evidence of similar games found in ancient Egypt and Rome. However, the modern version of the sport, as we know it today, emerged in 13th-century England. Initially played by the nobility, lawn bowls gradually gained popularity among people from all walks of life.

The Objective of the Game

The objective of lawn bowls is simple yet challenging: to roll biased balls, known as bowls, as close as possible to a smaller target ball called the jack. The game is typically played on a carefully manicured lawn, known as the green. The player or team that has the closest bowls to the jack at the end of a pre-determined number of ends or rounds emerges victorious.

Rules and Regulations

Lawn bowls is governed by a set of rules and regulations laid down by World Bowls that ensure fair play and maintain uniformity across competitions. Some key rules to keep in mind include:

  1. Delivery: Players must deliver the bowl with one foot on or above the mat. The bowl must be rolled, not thrown or tossed.
  2. Bias: Each bowl is uniquely shaped, designed to follow a curved path. Understanding the bias of your bowl (the way its path curves) and adjusting your shots accordingly is crucial to success.
  3. Shot Selection: Choosing the right shot, considering factors such as the position of the jack and the bowls already delivered, is essential to gain an advantage over your opponents.
  4. Etiquette: Lawn bowls is a sport that values good sportsmanship and respect for fellow players. Observing proper etiquette, such as not distracting opponents and adhering to the dress code, is integral to the game.

Equipment Required

To play lawn bowls, you’ll need the following equipment:

  1. Bowls: These are the weighted balls used to play the game and have varying biases. They come in various sizes and weights (and a vast array of colours and patterns), allowing players to select the ones that suit their playing style.
  2. Jack: The small white ball serves as the target and is rolled by the first player to start the game.
  3. Mat: The mat is placed on the green and acts as a starting point for delivering the bowls. It ensures consistency and fairness in each player’s delivery.
  4. Measure: In situations where the distance between bowls and the jack is too close to determine with the naked eye, a measuring instrument is used to determine the closest bowl.

Techniques and Strategies

Mastering the techniques and strategies of lawn bowls can significantly improve your game. Here are some key aspects to focus on:

  1. Grip and Delivery: Develop a comfortable and consistent grip on the bowl, as it affects your control and accuracy. Practice your delivery to ensure a smooth and controlled release.
  2. Reading the Green: Pay attention to the contours and conditions of the green. Factors such as grass length, speed, and wind direction can influence the trajectory of the bowls.
  3. Weight Control: Adjusting the weight of your delivery is crucial to reach the desired distance. Practice different length variations to develop a better understanding of how the bowls respond on different parts of the green.
  4. Line of Play: Analyze the position of the jack and the bowls already delivered to determine the best line of play. Anticipate the potential movements of the bowls and plan your shots accordingly.
  5. Shot Selection: Consider both offensive and defensive strategies when selecting your shots. Most often it’s better to draw for the jack, while other times it’s more advantageous to displace the opponent’s bowls.
  6. Communication: Effective communication within a team is vital in pairs or team games. Keep your teammates informed about your shot intentions and collaborate to develop winning strategies.

Benefits of Playing Lawn Bowls

Engaging in lawn bowls offers numerous benefits beyond the thrill of competition. Here are some notable advantages:

  1. Physical Fitness: Lawn bowls involves walking, bending, and controlled movements, which contribute to improved fitness and flexibility.
  2. Mental Stimulation: The strategic nature of the game stimulates critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
  3. Social Interaction: Joining a lawn bowls club provides opportunities for socializing, meeting new people, and fostering a sense of community.
  4. Stress Relief: The tranquil environment and focus required in lawn bowls can promote relaxation and stress reduction.
  5. All-Age Sport: Lawn bowls is a sport that can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages and fitness levels. It promotes pride in belonging and offers opportunities for inter-generational bonding.


Lawn bowls is a captivating sport that combines precision, strategy, and camaraderie. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a curious beginner, understanding the game’s history, rules, equipment, and techniques is essential to maximize your enjoyment and performance on the green.

Remember, practice is key to honing your skills, and with dedication, you can become a proficient lawn bowls player. So, grab your bowls, head to the green, and embark on an exciting journey in the world of lawn bowls.