Bowls is a game for all ages and abilities

It can be as competitive or social as you want it to be.  Ask us about starting to play bowls. Go down to your local club and meet the members and check out the available facilities.  Most clubs are open for new bowlers. If you can’t pop down and visit, then give us a call on 03 4559579 and we’ll point you in the right direction.

How to get started

  • We can arrange a date to meet at one of our clubs to show you around.
  • Let’s discuss what you want to achieve from the sport.
  • We have bowls you can borrow to give it a go.
  • Wear flat shoes.
  • To set you up with the basic skills and objectives of the game, we offer free coaching with our highly qualified club coaches.
  • You will find out how little it costs to belong to a bowling club.

Beginner’s Guide to Bowls

The aim of the game is simple. Get your bowls as close as possible to a small white or yellow ball called the “jack”, also known as the “kitty”.

It might sound easy, but the fact that the bowls do not travel in a straight line adds to the tactical challenge.

Bowls can be played indoors or outdoors, on artificial or natural surfaces and the rules are the same.

Bowls is a game for people of all ages and abilities from young children to older adults.

How Competitions Unfold 

All the action takes place on a standard bowling green, which is a flat square. This is divided into playing areas called rinks.

After a coin toss, the first bowler (the lead) places the mat and rolls the jack towards the other end of the green as a target.

The jack must travel at least 23m and, when it comes to rest, it is centered to the centre line of the rink.

Then bowlers take it in turns until all of the bowls have been played. This is called an ‘end’. Points are awarded to each team for every bowl that is closer to the jack than the opposing team’s bowls. The direction of play changes after each end. 

Bowls can be played in singles, pairs, triples and four-player teams.

Each player has four bowls per end in singles, three bowls in pairs competitions, two or three bowls in triples, and two bowls in fours competition.

The team captain, or ‘skip’, always plays last and assists directing the team’s shots and tactics.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

How The Scoring Works

Scoring systems vary for different competitions.

However, it is usually the first player, or team, to reach a certain number of points eg: 21 points in a singles match, or the highest scorer after a specified number of ends.

Types of Shots

The bowls are not quite round. They are shaped differently on one side which gives them the bias.

As the bowl slows, it begins to roll in the direction of the bias.

Bowlers will therefore change the side of the bias, depending on the direction in which they want the bowl to curve.

The challenge of all shots is to be able to adjust your line and length accordingly.

Draw Shot:

This allows the bowler to roll the bowl to a specific location without disturbing the other bowls.

For a right-handed bowler, ‘forehand draw’ is initially aimed to the right of the jack, and curves back to the left towards the jack.

The same bowler can deliver a ‘backhand draw’ by turning the bowl over in the hand and curving it the opposite way, from left to right.

The Drive:

Involves bowling with force with the aim of knocking either the jack or a specific bowl out of play.

Upshot or Weighted:

Involves delivering the bowl with enough power to move the jack or disturb other bowls, but without killing the end.

Ditch Rules

Bowls reaching the ditch are removed from play.

However, if they touch the jack before heading into the ditch they remain ‘alive’ and remain in play, unless it is out of bounds to the side of the rink. In which case it is dead and removed removed from the ditch.

If the jack is knocked into the ditch it remains ‘alive’ unless it is out of bounds to the side of the rink.

If that happens, this is called a ‘dead or killed’ end and is replayed.

What is Meant By “Weight or Speed”?

​​​​​​​The bowl needs a certain amount of momentum to reach the jack.  If the bowl doesn’t reach the jack it is called “short.” If it travels past the jack it is called “heavy”.

This game is all about adjusting. Once you see where your bowl has finished, you can adjust your next bowl to get a better result.

More “weight or speed” will help short bowls reach the jack. Likewise, less weight will help bowls that have travelled past the jack, to finish closer to the jack.

  • If you’re playing short – you can lengthen your delivery by increasing the speed you bowl. Try swinging your arm back a bit further to put more weight behind the bowl.
  • If you’re playing too heavy – you can reduce the length of your delivery by moving more slowly. This will ensure there is less weight behind the bowl, so it won’t travel as far.
  • If you’re playing too wide, that is the bowl is not coming back to finish on the centre line, try bowling along a target line that is a little narrower than your previous bowl. 
  • If you’re playing too narrow –  try bowling along a target line that is a little wider than your previous bowl.

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By Luakit_