Bowling

Lawn bowling is a sport with many traditions. Like curling or 5-pin bowling, there are a few rules, a number of conventions, and a reliance on fair play that depends on the honour system.

Overview

The number of players on a team can be from 1 to 4. A Skip is designated as the captain, who plays last.

Playing from the mat (dark grey in the picture), the team Lead rolls the white target, called a Jack, by delivering it toward the Skip at the other end of the rink, or lane. At that point, the Jack is moved by the Skip, directed by the Lead, to centre it in the lane. After that, the Jack may end up being moved if hit by a bowl, thereby changing the location of the target within the lane.

Once the Jack is first placed, that Lead rolls (not throws) the first bowl, trying to deliver it as closely as possible to the Jack. The next bowl is rolled by the Lead from the other team. Next, the first Lead plays their second bowl. This continues, with alternating team players rolling each of their bowls until the Skips have delivered all their bowls. That completes the End, and a score is determined.

The closest bowl to the Jack is 1 point.  If the same team has more of their bowls next closest to the Jack, each one counts 1 point. For instance, in the picture above, if we assume the 3 brown bowls are from the same team, the score would be 3 points for Brown.  Scoring proceeds until the other team’s bowl is determined to be next. So, for an End, a team may have 1, 2, or more points. That score is placed on the scoreboard.

The bowls are then raked up and a mat is placed in the centre of the lane at the, now, opposite side. The team winning the last point goes first, rolling the Jack down the lane to be centred by the Skip.

Play generally proceeds for 8, 10 or 12 ends in friendly club play. This takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The number of ends can be agreed to be a different number for special occasions. Competitive play can be 14 ends, depending the time available for the event.

Technical Stuff

Each set of 4 bowls is selected by the manufacturer so all are exactly the same in their size – classed as “00”, “0”, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. Within each size, a set may all be Light, Medium or Heavy weight. Each of the set of 4 must roll along the same trajectory when tested on a certified inclined table. Sets are stamped by the manufacturer as being certified for tournament play up to a specified year. This example shows a Drakes Pride, Professional, #5 Heavy bowl that is certified until 2001.

The symbol that is stamped in the circle is the same for your set of 4 bowls. That way, when there are many bowls in use on your lane, you will be able to find your own bowls.

In the picture below, we see that a bowl will take a certain trajectory, rather than being able to go straight. This is because bowls are made with one side actually smaller than the other side. A bowl will, therefore, always turn toward the “small” side – see the lower drawing. This side is identified on each bowl by a smaller circle imprinted on that side.

“Little to the Middle”

Which bowls should you use?

This is a matter of personal preference. New bowlers are advised to use the club bowls for a year until they get a feel for what “fits”.

A few points to remember:

  • The bowl should sit comfortably in the palm without having to grip it tightly
  • A bigger or heavier bowl may not be the right choice – consider how heavy it will feel after 12 to 14 ends, for 3 games in a day (as in tournament play)
  • Choice of colour makes no difference – except in cost and, perhaps, in your mindset
  • Generally, Leads will find a straighter trajectory type of bowl will allow them to approach the Jack more often
  • Some Skips like to use a wide turning bowl so they can “backdoor” a tight head
  • Don’t worry about having a large, heavy bowl with which to run at a congested head – leave that for experienced Skips – the target for a “runner” is 3-4 fingers wide; the target to draw into the head is a full arms-length wide.

The Rules

The official rules of the game are found on the World Bowls site. The current document is referred to as Crystal Mark 3: http://www.worldbowls.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Laws_of_the_sport_v3.2.pdf

For reference, here are the contents:

Version 3.2 1 June 2020
Contents
Foreword…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5
Conventions ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
Definitions………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
Section 1 – Game basics …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Section 1.1 – Arranging a game ………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
1 Play arrangements …………………………………………………………………………………… 9
1.1 Singles game ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
1.2 Team game …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
1.3 Side game …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 10
1.4 A series of games ………………………………………………………………………………….. 10
1.5 A tournament of games ………………………………………………………………………….. 10
2 General form and length ………………………………………………………………………… 10
3 Choosing the rinks for play …………………………………………………………………….. 10
4 Practice
………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
Section 1.2 – Getting a game underway
………………………………………….. 11
5 Starting the game
………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
5.1 Trial ends …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
5.2 Tossing for opening play ……………………………………………………………………….. 11
5.3 The start of play ……………………………………………………………………………………. 12
5.4 Play in other ends ………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
6 Placing the mat……………………………………………………………………………………… 12
6.1 At the start of each end ………………………………………………………………………….. 12
6.2 During each end ……………………………………………………………………………………. 13
7 Position on the mat………………………………………………………………………………… 13
8 Foot-faulting ………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
9 Delivering the jack ………………………………………………………………………………… 14
10 Improper delivery of the jack………………………………………………………………….. 14
11 Team play…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 15
11.1 Number of players…………………………………………………………………………………. 15
11.2 Order of play ………………………………………………………………………………………… 15
Section 1.3 – Possession of the rink …………………………………………………………………………… 15
12 Position of players…………………………………………………………………………………. 15
12.1 In relation to the rink of play ………………………………………………………………….. 15
12.2 In relation to a neighbouring rink ……………………………………………………………. 16
13 Possession of the rink…………………………………………………………………………….. 16
Section 1.4 – Touchers and dead bowls……………………………………………………………………… 16
14 Touchers………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
15 Marking a toucher …………………………………………………………………………………. 17
16 Movement of touchers …………………………………………………………………………… 17
17 Dead bowl ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 18
Section 1.5 – Live and dead jack……………………………………………………………………………….. 18
18 Live jack in the ditch……………………………………………………………………………… 18
19 Dead jack …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
20 Dead end ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 19
21 Rebounding jack …………………………………………………………………………………… 19
Section 1.6 – Result of an end …………………………………………………………………………………… 20
22 The shot……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20
23 Deciding the number of shots scored ……………………………………………………….. 20
24 No shot scored – tied end ……………………………………………………………………….. 21
25 Delivering the final bowl of an end …………………………………………………………. 21
Section 1.7 – Game decisions.……………………………………………………………………………………. 21
26 Games played on one occasion ……………………………………………………………….. 21
27 Tournament games and games in a series …………………………………………………. 22
28 A drawn game in a knockout (eliminating) competition …………………………….. 22
Section 2 – Game anomalies …………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
Section 2.1 – Irregularities affecting play ………………………………………………………………….. 23
29 Irregularities during play.……………………………………………………………………….. 23
29.1 Playing out of turn ………………………………………………………………………………… 23
29.2 Playing another player’s bowl ………………………………………………………………… 23
29.3 Changing bowls ……………………………………………………………………………………. 23
29.4 Failing to play ………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
30 Damaged jack……………………………………………………………………………………….. 23
31 Damaged bowls …………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
Section 2.2 – Factors affecting play …………………………………………………………………………… 24
32 Game stoppages ……………………………………………………………………………………. 24
33 Leaving the green during the course of play ……………………………………………… 24
34 Objects on the green………………………………………………………………………………. 25
35 Unforeseen incidents……………………………………………………………………………… 25
36 Deliberate non-sporting action………………………………………………………………… 25
Section 2.3 – Bowl and jack displacement …………………………………………………………………. 26
37 Bowl displacement ………………………………………………………………………………… 26
37.1 Bowl displacement by another player ………………………………………………………. 26
37.2 Bowl displacement by a disabled player’s equipment or assistant ……………….. 27
37.3 Bowl displacement by a neutral person or neutral object ……………………………. 27
37.4 Bowl displacement when being marked as a toucher or during measuring ……. 28
37.5 Bowl displacement by a rebounding non-toucher ……………………………………… 29
37.6 Bowl displacement by a bowl from a neighbouring rink …………………………….. 29
37.7 Bowl displacement by a dead bowl …………………………………………………………. 29
38 Jack displacement …………………………………………………………………………………. 29
38.1 Jack displacement by another player ……………………………………………………….. 29
38.2 Jack displacement by a disabled player’s equipment or assistant…………………. 30
38.3 Jack displacement by a neutral person or neutral object……………………………… 30
38.4 Jack displacement during measuring ……………………………………………………….. 30
38.5 Jack displacement by a non-toucher ………………………………………………………… 30
38.6 Jack displacement by a bowl from a neighbouring rink ……………………………… 31
Section 2.4 – Defaults by players ………………………………………………………………………………. 31
39 Absentee players in a team or side…………………………………………………………… 31
39.1 In a team game ……………………………………………………………………………………… 31
39.2 In a side game ………………………………………………………………………………………. 31
Section 3 – Duties of players and officials……………………………………………………………………… 32
Section 3.1 – Players and their duties………………………………………………………………………… 32
40 Players’ duties ………………………………………………………………………………………. 32
40.1 The skip……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 32
40.2 The third ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 32
40.3 The lead……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 33
40.4 Other duties ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 33
41 Players with disabilities …………………………………………………………………………. 33
Section 3.2 – Officials and their duties and spectators ………………………………. 34
42 The marker’s duties……………………………………………………………………………….. 34
43 The umpire’s duties……………………………………………………………………………….. 35
44 The coach …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 35
45 Spectators …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 36
Section 4 – Field of play and equipment ……………………………………………………………………….. 36
Section 4.1 – The green, ditch, banks and rinks…………………………………………………………. 36
46 The green …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 36
47 The ditch ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 36
48 The bank………………………………………………………………………………………………. 36
49 Division of the green……………………………………………………………………………… 37
Section 4.2 – Equipment: mat, jack, bowls and measures ………………………………………….. 39
50 Mat ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 39
51 Jack …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 39
52 Bowls ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 39
52.1 Specifications ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 39
52.2 Bias of bowls………………………………………………………………………………………… 40
52.3 Alteration to bias …………………………………………………………………………………… 40
52.4 Lodging a challenge to bowls …………………………………………………………………. 41
52.5 Following up a challenge to bowls ………………………………………………………….. 41
52.6 Bowls failing a test………………………………………………………………………………… 42
53 Bowls: World Bowls Stamp……………………………………………………………………. 42
54 Measuring equipment…………………………………………………………………………….. 43
Section 5 – Administration …………………………………………………………………………………………… 44
Section 5.1 – Playing formats ……………………………………………………………………………………. 44
55 Formats of play …………………………………………………………………………………….. 44
55.1 World events and Commonwealth Games ………………………………………………… 44
55.2 International events ……………………………………………………………………………….. 44
55.3 Domestic events ……………………………………………………………………………………. 45
56 Sets play ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 46
56.1 Format of play ………………………………………………………………………………………. 46
56.2 Tie-breaker …………………………………………………………………………………………… 46
56.3 Winners of sectional play……………………………………………………………………….. 46
56.4 First to play ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 47
56.5 Re-spotting the jack ………………………………………………………………………………. 47
Section 5.2 – Game regulations …………………………………………………………………………………. 48
57 Regulations for play ………………………………………………………………………………. 48
57.1 Domestic regulations …………………………………………………………………………….. 48
57.2 Conditions of Play…………………………………………………………………………………. 49
Section 5.3 – Administrative matters ………………………………………………………………………… 49
58 International tours and competitions………………………………………………………… 49
59 Regulating Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours games …………………………………… 49
60 Contracting out of the Laws of the Sport of Bowls ……………………………………. 49
Appendices ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 50
Appendix A ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 50
A.1 Conditions of Play…………………………………………………………………………………. 50
A.2 Footwear ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 51
A.3 Clothing……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 51
A.4 Restricting the movement of players during play ………………………………………. 51
A.5 Delaying (slow) play ……………………………………………………………………………… 52
Appendix B ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 54
B.1 Position of the bank ………………………………………………………………………………. 54
B.2 Marks on the surface of the rink ……………………………………………………………… 55
B.3 Centring the jack …………………………………………………………………………………… 57
B.4 Distance charts ……………………………………………………………………………………… 58
Appendix C ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 60
C.1 Bowl and jack displacement chart …………………………………………………………… 60