How to Play

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Lawn bowling is an easy-to-learn, low cost, and pleasantly social game that can be enjoyed by men and women of all ages and all skill levels. While the basics can be learned in a couple of hours, serious competitive bowlers can spend years developing and refining their skills.  Playing bowls can improve your physical and mental fitness through improved balance, coordination, and psychological well-being. So, if you are looking for some low-impact exercise in a friendly social setting, you should definitely give lawn bowling a chance.  Here's what you need to know to get started:

There are two teams in every game. Teams can be composed of between one to four people, depending
on the type of game being played. The order in which the members of a team bowl is predetermined, and depends on the type of game and number of people on the team. The Leads are the first to bowl and Skips are the last to bowl on a team. In a triples game, the second bowler is called the Vice and in a four games, the third bowler is called the Vice.  Skips are the most experienced players on a team. For more details, see Player Roles in Lawn Bowls.

In a singles match, the game ends when one of the players reaches an agreed upon point total.  In pairs, triples and fours, the  game consists of a certain number of ends, usually between 10 and 14, but it can be as many as 21 or more.  An end starts with the rolling and setting of a small bowl (the 'jack') and finishes once all the players' bowls have been rolled toward the jack. The jack must travel 21 meters or more to be legal, The Skip then centers the jack so that it rests on the center line of the rink, still at the same distance as it was rolled. This is now the target that the bowlers aim at.  The end is over when all bowls have been delivered. The end can also be finished if the jack is pushed out of bounds into another rink or side ditch, but in that case no points are scored. Ends are played from alternating ends of the rink so that the bowls remain on the same ends of the rink from the finish of one end to the start of the next.


Called delivering a bowl, bowling proceeds in alternating turns, although the precise format is determined by which type of game it is. When delivering a bowl, one foot must remain on or above the mat, and the bowl must travel at least 14 meters from the front of the mat to be live.  


A bowl in its original course which touches the jack, even though it comes to rest in the ditch within the boundaries of the rink of play, is a live bowl and is called a toucher. If a bowl in its original course does not touch the jack, it is called a non-toucher.



A ditch runs along the outside of the rink. Unless they are touchers, bowls that enter the ditch are deemed out of bounds and ineligible for scoring.


When the skips bowl their final bowls in an end, the end is finished.  The team with the bowl closest to the jack receives as many points as they have bowls closer to the jack than any of the opposing team's bowls. is opposing team receives no points for that end.  The skip or vice then records the score, and the Lead of the losing team rakes the bowls to prepare them for the next end. If the relative distances of two bowls to the jack cannot be determined by sight, the distances must be measured.