GLOSSARY OF BOWLING TERMS
(Please note that some terms have regional variations
which may or may not be used by some clubs)
If you come across a term that is missing or incorrect please let us know
by posting a comment on this page.
Back Bowl: A bowl that comes to rest beyond the Jack
Backhand Draw: When the bowl is aimed to the left of the Jack, and curves to the right (for left handed bowlers)
Be Up: Instruction from Skip to bowl longer (don’t be short of Jack)
Bias: Weighted offset to make the bowl curve. The bias of the bowl is indicated by the smaller button. Bias is correct when the bowl curves towards the Jack
Blocker: A bowl that blocks someone (usually an opponent) from reaching the desired target
Dead End / Burned End: When the Jack has been knocked out of bounds. The end is not counted and is played again.
Draw Shot: Shots where the bowl is rolled to a specific location without causing too much disturbance to bowls already at the Head (see Head)
Drive: This involves bowling with considerable force with the aim of knocking either the Jack or specific bowls out of play
Dead Bowl: When a bowl goes either in the ditch or rests outside the Rink (see Rink)
Ditch: The area between the Green and the boundary which is generally below the level of the Green. It stops bowls from leaving the Green completely
Down: When your team does not have the Shot Bowl (see Shot Bowl) you are considered to be Down. You may be Down by one or more points.
End: Means the playing of the Jack and all bowls of both teams in the same direction on a Rink. Bowling to the Jack is called “one end”. The number of ends played is decided by club/league rules.
Foot Fault: A foot fault occurs when the bowler does not have one foot on or over the mat on release of the bowl.
Forehand Draw: When the bowl is aimed to the right of the Jack and curves left (for right handed bowers)
Grass: Apart from the surface, Grass is the directional line the bowl takes in order for it to curve towards the Jack. So a “too much grass” bowl will be wide.
Green: Lawn bowls is played on a square “Green” of grass, with directions being alternated to protect the grass.
The Hammer: The final bowl of the end. Newer rules allow the winning team on an end to give away the Mat and so retain control of the Hammer.
Hand: The side on which the bowl is delivered – either forehand or backhand
Head: Rolling bowls towards the Jack to build up a Head, which means such bowls that have come to rest within the boundary of the Rink and have not been declared dead.
Hog Line: Special markers (often flags for tournaments) that mark the minimum line beyond which the Jack must be rolled for an End to be valid.
Holding Shot: Team with their bowl(s) closest to the Jack (see also Shot Bowl)
Hook: Shape that some bowls take towards the end of their run – determined by amount of bias
Jack: White ball or “kitty” used as a target to play to and which determines point scoring
Jack High: A bowl that comes to rest level with the Jack
Lane (see also Rink): All games are played within Lanes that are at least 14 feet wide. The Lanes for a given game or tournament are designated with markers on the edges of the Green. Bowls that come to rest outside of their Lane are Dead Bowls and are removed from the End
Lead: The person who starts off the play. Also places the Mat and rolls the Jack if their team “has the Mat”
Mat: The actual mat that is placed by the team winning the last End, to start the next end. This is also known as “having the Mat”. The team with the Mat always bowls the Jack. Newer rules allow the winning team to give away the Mat, thereby losing control of the Jack but ensuring they have the final bowl of the End (the Hammer)
Measure: When bowls are too close to visually decide which one is closer, it is known as a Measure. Players carry special lawn bowls tape measures to do this. The distance is irrelevant so the tapes are only used to see who is closest
Narrow: Bowler didn’t aim far out enough from the centreline to the Jack
Pairs: Bowls game in which each team has a pair of players (A Skip and a Lead)
Points: Score for whoever gets their bowl(s) closes to the Jack at the conclusion of an End
Potato Bowl: A badly thrown (or released) bowl that hops, skips or jumps
Promoting a Bowl: Pushing up one of your team’s bowls to a better position
Rink: The Lane on a Grass Green playing surface. Often 15 feet wide (minimum is 14 feet). Each Rink is defined by markers at the edge of the Green
Rinks bowls: A bowling game in which there are 4 players on each team – a Skip, a Vice, 2nd Lead and Lead. Typically players use 2 bows each
Skip: Team Captain or Skipper who always plays last. This person is usually the most experienced and guides the strategy
Shot Bowl: The bowl closest to the Jack
Tie: When the two closest bowls are exactly the same distance from the Jack and belong to opposing teams, even after measurement. The End is declared a Tie.
Touchers: Bowls that hit the Jack. These bowls are marked with chalk and remain “alive” even if they are in the Ditch
Trial Ends: Formal practice Ends, usually only allowed at the start of a tournament, in which each team rolls two bowls down and back to get a feel of the Green. Such ends do not count in the scoring
Triples: A game in which each team has 3 players on their team – a Skip, a Vice and a Lead. Typically each player then only uses 3 bowls each
Up: When your team has the Shot Bowl you are considered to be Up. You may be Up by one or more points
Vice: The person who plays after the Lead and is responsible for deciding the winner of a Head, and recording the results
Weight: The amount of speed applied in delivering a bowl from the Mat to the Jack. “Heavy” means the bowl goes too far past the Jack and “Light” means it stops short of the Jack
Wide: The bowl is too far out from the centreline to come back to the Jack (also called “taking too much Grass”
Wick: When a bowl bounces off another bowl (a term derived from curling)
Wood: A more traditional term for a bowl
Yard On: A shot delivered with and extra degree of speed to displace or disturb other bowls in the Head with the intent of killing the End