A Beginner’s Guide to Lawn Bowls: Everything You Need to Know

A Beginner’s Guide to Lawn Bowls: Everything You Need to Know

Are you new to the world of lawn bowls and looking for a comprehensive guide to get started? Look no further! In this beginner’s guide, we will cover everything you need to know about lawn bowls, from the basic rules to the essential equipment. Whether you’re interested in learning the techniques or want to understand the terminology used in the sport, this article has got you covered. So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the fascinating world of lawn bowls!

What is Lawn Bowls?

Lawn Bowls is a popular sport that involves rolling biased balls, known as bowls, towards a smaller white ball called the jack. It is played on a carefully maintained grass surface known as a bowling green. The game is enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels, making it a great activity for both beginners and experienced players.

History of Lawn Bowls

Lawn Bowls has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The origins of the sport can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where a form of lawn bowling was played over 5,000 years ago. It later gained popularity in ancient Rome and Greece, and eventually spread to other parts of Europe.

During the Middle Ages, lawn bowling became a popular pastime in England, with many variations of the game being played. It was during this time that the modern version of lawn bowls, as we know it today, started to take shape. The rules and equipment were standardized, and the game began to be played on carefully maintained grass surfaces.

Lawn bowls continued to grow in popularity throughout the centuries, with clubs and associations being formed in various countries. Today, it is played in many countries around the world and is a recognized sport in international competitions.

Objective of Lawn Bowls

The objective of lawn bowls is to roll your bowls as close as possible to the jack, which is the smaller white ball. Players take turns to deliver their bowls, aiming to get them as close to the jack as they can. The bowls are biased, meaning they are designed to curve as they roll, which adds an element of strategy to the game.

The player or team that has the bowl closest to the jack after all bowls have been delivered is awarded points. The number of points awarded may vary depending on the specific rules being followed. The game is typically played over a set number of ends, with the winner being the player or team with the highest score at the end of the game.

Lawn bowls is a game that requires both skill and precision. It requires players to analyze the playing surface, make strategic decisions, and execute accurate shots. It is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and provides a great opportunity for socializing and friendly competition.

Equipment and Playing Surface


Bowls, also known as lawn bowls, are the key equipment used in the game of lawn bowls. These are spherical balls made of a hard plastic material or a composite material. The size and weight of the bowls vary depending on the player’s preference and the level of competition. Typically, bowls have a diameter ranging from 11.6 to 14.2 centimeters and weigh between 1.2 to 1.6 kilograms.

The bowls used in lawn bowls are biased, meaning that they are intentionally designed to curve or bend on a curved trajectory. This bias allows players to strategically control the path of the bowl as it rolls towards the jack. The bias is usually indicated by a symbol or a number on the bowl, indicating the direction and strength of the bias.


The jack, also known as the kitty or the white, is a small white ball that serves as the target in the game of lawn bowls. It is smaller and lighter compared to the bowls, with a diameter ranging from 6 to 8 centimeters. The jack is initially placed on the bowling green as the target for the players to aim their bowls towards.

The objective of the game is to roll the bowls as close as possible to the jack. The player or team whose bowls are closest to the jack scores points. The jack can be positioned at different distances on the bowling green, allowing for variations in gameplay and strategy.

Bowling Green

The bowling green is the playing surface for lawn bowls. It is a carefully maintained area of grass, typically rectangular in shape, where the game is played. The surface of the bowling green is smooth and flat, ensuring a consistent playing field for all players.

The grass on the bowling green is usually cut short to provide a fast and predictable playing surface. It is important to maintain the green’s condition by regularly mowing, watering, and rolling the grass. This ensures that the bowls can roll smoothly and accurately towards the jack.

The bowling green is divided into several rinks or lanes, each with a designated number. This allows multiple games to be played simultaneously on the same bowling green. Each rink is separated by a ditch, which serves as a boundary and obstacle during gameplay.

In summary, lawn bowls requires specific equipment such as biased bowls and a jack, which are used on a meticulously maintained bowling green. Understanding the equipment and the playing surface is essential for beginners to fully grasp the game and enjoy playing it.

Rules and Scoring

In order to fully understand the game of lawn bowls, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the rules and scoring system. This section will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the basic rules and how scoring is determined in this sport.


The delivery is a crucial aspect of lawn bowls and refers to the method of sending the bowl towards the target. Here are some key points to keep in mind when it comes to the delivery:

  • Stance: Start by adopting a comfortable and balanced stance on the mat, ensuring that your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • Grip: Hold the bowl with a relaxed grip, allowing your fingers to comfortably rest on the running surface. The bowl should rest against the pads of your fingers and thumb.
  • Aim: Focus on a specific point on the green known as the "line" or "spot" and aim to deliver the bowl on that line.
  • Approach: Take a smooth and controlled step forward, maintaining your balance throughout the delivery. Remember to keep your arm straight and follow through after releasing the bowl.

Shot Types

In lawn bowls, there are various shot types that players can employ to strategically position their bowls and gain an advantage over their opponents. Here are some common shot types:

  • Draw Shot: The objective of a draw shot is to deliver the bowl with just enough weight to reach the target area. This shot requires precision and accuracy.
  • Drive Shot: A drive shot involves delivering the bowl with significant force, aiming to knock away opponents’ bowls or change the head (arrangement of bowls near the target).
  • Yard Shot: A yard shot is executed by delivering the bowl with a larger arc to navigate around obstacles or reach a distant target.
  • Trail Shot: A trail shot is used to follow the path of an opponent’s bowl, aiming to touch it slightly and alter its position.


Scoring in lawn bowls is based on the position of the bowls in relation to the target, which is typically a smaller white ball called the jack. Here’s how scoring works:

  • Closest Bowl: The player or team with the bowl closest to the jack scores one point for each bowl closer than their opponents’ closest bowl.
  • Toucher: If a bowl touches the jack during play, it becomes a "toucher." If the toucher remains within the boundaries of the rink, it receives additional scoring benefits.
  • Dead Bowl: A bowl that has been delivered out of bounds, into the ditch, or is a toucher that has gone out of bounds is considered a "dead bowl" and is removed from play.
  • End: A game of lawn bowls consists of multiple ends. At the completion of each end, points are awarded and the positions of the jack and bowls are reset for the next end.

Understanding the rules and scoring system of lawn bowls is essential for both beginners and experienced players alike. By mastering the delivery techniques, familiarizing yourself with shot types, and knowing how scoring works, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy this exciting and strategic sport.

Techniques and Strategies

Grip and Stance

Having the right grip and stance is crucial in lawn bowls. The way you hold the bowl and position yourself can greatly affect your delivery and accuracy. Here are some tips to improve your grip and stance:

  • Grip: Hold the bowl with your dominant hand, placing your fingers in the indentations on the sides. Make sure your grip is firm but not too tight. Experiment with different finger positions to find what feels most comfortable for you.

  • Stance: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing the direction you want to bowl. Distribute your weight evenly on both feet, keeping a slight bend in your knees. This stable stance will help you maintain balance throughout your delivery.

Delivery Technique

Mastering the delivery technique is essential to become a skilled bowler. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and accurate delivery:

  1. Align your body: Position yourself parallel to the mat, ensuring your feet, hips, and shoulders are all facing the same direction.

  2. Hold the bowl correctly: Grip the bowl with your dominant hand, as mentioned earlier, and hold it with the desired bias facing the direction you want the bowl to curve.

  3. Step forward: Take a step forward with your non-dominant foot, leading with your heel. This step helps generate momentum for the delivery.

  4. Swing and release: As you step forward, swing your arm smoothly, keeping it close to your body. Release the bowl when your arm reaches its maximum extension, with a gentle and controlled motion.

  5. Follow through: Complete your delivery by allowing your arm to continue its natural path, pointing towards the target. This follow-through motion helps maintain accuracy and control.

Strategies for Success

To succeed in lawn bowls, it’s not just about the physical techniques but also about strategic thinking. Here are some strategies to enhance your performance:

  • Reading the green: Pay attention to the conditions of the green, including the slope, speed, and any obstacles. This will help you determine the best line and weight to deliver your bowl.

  • Observing opponents: Watch how your opponents play. Observe their techniques, preferred shots, and weaknesses. Use this knowledge to adjust your own strategy and gain a competitive edge.

  • Shot selection: Choose your shots wisely based on the game situation. Sometimes, a defensive shot to block your opponent’s bowl can be more effective than aiming for a direct hit.

  • Be adaptable: Adapt to changing circumstances during the game. Adjust your delivery, line, and weight according to the conditions and the position of other bowls on the mat.

By focusing on improving your grip, stance, and delivery technique, as well as implementing effective strategies, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of lawn bowls. Practice regularly and always strive for continuous improvement.

Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Etiquette on the Green

When participating in the sport of lawn bowls, it is important to adhere to proper etiquette on the green. Following these guidelines will not only ensure a smooth and enjoyable game for everyone involved, but also demonstrate respect for the sport and your fellow players.

  1. Arrive on time: It is important to arrive at the designated time for your game. Punctuality shows respect for your opponents and allows for a timely start.

  2. Dress code: Dress appropriately for the game, following the dress code set by the club or organization. This usually includes flat-soled shoes, collared shirts, and tailored trousers or skirts. Wearing the proper attire displays a sense of professionalism and respect for the game.

  3. Maintain silence: While on the green, it is customary to maintain silence during play. This ensures that players can concentrate on their shots without distractions. Save discussions and socializing for the breaks between ends or after the game.

Respecting Opponents

Respecting your opponents is an essential aspect of sportsmanship in lawn bowls. By treating your opponents with respect, you contribute to a positive and friendly atmosphere on the green. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Shake hands: Before and after each game, it is customary to shake hands with your opponents. This simple gesture shows respect and sportsmanship, regardless of the game’s outcome.

  2. Avoid distractions: Refrain from engaging in activities that may distract your opponents, such as talking loudly, moving unnecessarily, or using electronic devices during play. Focus on the game and allow your opponents to concentrate as well.

  3. Observe the head: When it’s your turn to play, make sure to approach the head (the area where the bowls have come to rest) with care and respect. Avoid stepping on the green while others are playing and be mindful not to disturb the bowls or the head.

Good Sportsmanship

Displaying good sportsmanship is crucial in lawn bowls, as in any sport. It promotes fair play, respect, and camaraderie among players. Here are some key points to remember:

  1. Congratulate and appreciate: Whether you win or lose, it is important to congratulate your opponents on their performance. Show appreciation for good shots and acknowledge their skills. Remember, the game is about enjoyment and friendly competition.

  2. Control emotions: Keep your emotions in check during the game. Avoid displaying anger or frustration, as it can create a negative atmosphere. Instead, focus on your own performance and learn from any mistakes or setbacks.

  3. Follow the rules: Adhere to the rules and regulations of the game. Respect the decisions made by the umpires or officials, even if you may disagree with them. Playing within the rules ensures fairness and integrity in the sport.

By following proper etiquette and demonstrating good sportsmanship, you contribute to a positive experience for yourself, your opponents, and the entire lawn bowls community. Remember, the game is not just about winning, but also about enjoying the sport and fostering a sense of camaraderie among players.

Getting Started

Lawn bowls is a great sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. If you’re interested in trying out this fun and relaxing game, here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Finding a Local Club

The first step in getting started with lawn bowls is to find a local club in your area. There are usually many clubs to choose from, so take some time to research and find one that suits your needs. You can start by asking friends or family if they know of any clubs nearby. Alternatively, you can use online directories or search engines to find clubs in your area.

Learning the Basics

Once you’ve found a local club, it’s time to learn the basics of lawn bowls. The game involves rolling biased balls, called bowls, towards a smaller target ball, known as the jack. The objective is to get your bowls as close to the jack as possible. To start learning the basics, you can sign up for beginner’s lessons at your local club. These lessons are usually conducted by experienced players who will teach you the rules, techniques, and etiquette of the game. It’s important to practice regularly to improve your skills and understanding of the game.

Joining in Social Games

After you’ve learned the basics and feel comfortable playing, you can start joining in social games at your local club. Social games are a great way to meet new people, have fun, and improve your skills. These games are usually more relaxed and casual compared to competitive matches. It’s a good opportunity to practice your techniques, learn from experienced players, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the club. Most clubs have designated social game days or evenings, so check with your club for the schedule and join in on the fun.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the exciting world of lawn bowls. Remember to have patience, practice regularly, and most importantly, have fun!

In conclusion, this beginner’s guide to lawn bowls has provided a comprehensive overview of the sport, covering everything from its history and rules to the equipment and techniques used. Whether you are a novice looking to try out a new hobby or someone interested in learning more about this popular sport, this guide has equipped you with the essential knowledge to get started. With dedication, practice, and a bit of strategy, you can become a skilled lawn bowler in no time. So grab your bowls, head to the green, and enjoy the camaraderie and excitement that lawn bowls has to offer.