About the Game

 Welcome to the game of Bowls

Bowls is a great way for people of all ages to get open air exercise, comradeship, and improve their mental and physical abilities.  A bowls session will normally last between 2 – 3 hours and can take the form of a competition or practice (roll up).

To get started all you need is a pair of flat soled shoes to avoid damaging the green.  All other equipment is provided.  Woods (bowls) are available to borrow from the club until you have established what size and weight suits you and you decide to buy your own.

For a further explanation of the terms in blue please click here.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to get one or more of your team’s woods closer to the jack (a little white or yellow ball) than your opponents. Each game has a specified number of ends and the winning team is the team that has accumulated the most points in the game.  Games can be singles (one player per team), pairs (2 players per team), triples (3 players per team) or fours (4 players per team).  The number of woods per player is determined by the number of players per team.

Woods are not round but have a bias so they run in a curved line. One side of the bowl is “weighted” (the bias) and the curve goes towards the bias. Each set of woods has an individual serial number and an identifying logo.  As well as different sizes of woods there are woods with different biases that make their travelling path wider or narrower.

A bowling green is divided into rinks which are 4.3 to 5.8 metres wide and 31 to 40 metres long.  There are usually 6 or 8 rinks per green.


Grey trousers and white shirts used for roll ups and some club competitions. Whites are used for matches against other clubs and club finals unless otherwise stated.  NB: Women may wear trousers or skirts.

Flat soled shoes are required to avoid damaging the green

Types of Games

Games of bowls can involve singles play or teams of two in pairs, three in triples or four in “rinks” games. Roll ups and social bowling follow the same format.  A match involves a number of teams from one club playing another club either at home or away.

A match could involve six rinks or 24 players (6×4) for each team(Club).

Friendly matches are as much a social occasion as they are competitions – but some competitions can be taken very seriously.


In Fours or Rinks play, the lead, two, three and skip each deliver two woods for 21 ends.

In Singles, the two opponents deliver four bowls alternately. The first to reach 21 shots is the winner.

For Pairs, the players deliver four bowls each. The team scoring the most shots after 21 ends is the winner.

In the Triples game, the lead, second and skip deliver three bowls each, for 18 ends.


LEAD (1)

A Lead is the person who plays first in pairs triples or fours (rinks) game. The lead is responsible for setting the mat and delivering the jack to start the end. A lead is responsible at the end of each end ensuring all bowls are at least a metre behind the mat position.


The Second in a triples or rinks (fours) game is the player who plays second.  (In the game of triples the Second is also responsible, with his corresponding opponent, for deciding the result of an end.  However, the skips have the final say in this in the event of any dispute.)


The Third is the third player to play in a rinks game. The Third is normally responsible, with his corresponding opponent, for deciding the result of an end.  However the skips have the final say in this in the event of any dispute.

SKIP (4)

The Skip is the captain of a team in pairs, triples or rinks play. The Skip is always last to play and is responsible for directing the play during an end. The other players in a team must follow the Skip’s instructions.  In the all games the skip is responsible for marking the score card.


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