Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club

About the Sport


  • The Game
  • Equipment
  • Glossary A-J
  • Glossary K-Z

The video at left demonstrates some of the terms discussed on these pages. Click on the controls to pause or resume the video.

Object of Bowls

The object of the game is to roll the bowl as close to the white jack as possible. The jack is rolled the length of the green to start each end. Where it stops, after being centered in the middle of the rink, becomes the target for the balance of the end.

The bowl is not completely spherical, allowing it to curve toward the jack as momentum is lost. The bowl curves either way, depending on which way it is held during delivery.

Bowls involves offensive and defensive strategy to play the game, and has the added challenge that the jack is movable and can be displaced anywhere on the rink by a delivered bowl.

Scoring the Game of Bowls

There are four basic games played:
In Fours there are 4 player per team (2 bowls per player)
In Triples there are 3 players per team (3 bowls per player)
In Pairs there are 2 players per team (4 bowls per player)
In Singles there is 1 player (4 bowls)

Positions parallel those of curling. In Fours, the team consists of a Skip, Vice, Second and Lead, and it is adapted for Triples and Pairs. Each player delivers a bowl alternately with their counterpart until all bowls have been delivered. This completes one end of play and the shots for that end are counted.

One or more points are scored by the team whose bowls are closer to the jack than those of their opponents. One point is scored for each bowl closer.

A game consists of an agreed upon number of ends. In provincial, national, or international play, the number of ends is set. Singles are played to a set number of shots per game (not ends).

You need:

A bowls green which is 31 to 40 metres square and is perfectly flat. The green is divided into rinks, which are not less than 4.3 metres or more than 5.8 metres wide, so several games can be played at the same time.

A set of bowls, which includes four (4) bowls, and comes in several sizes to best fit the player’s hand. Black and brown coloured bowls are most often seen, however brightly coloured bowls are becoming more prevalent. To help distinguish from opponents bowls, coloured logos are affixed to the bowls.

A jack, which is smaller, round and white, and is used as the target.

A mat, which is 600 mm long and 360 mm wide. One foot must be on the mat when a player delivers the bowl.

Flat heel-less footwear, so the greens won't be damaged.

Comfortable clothes which are within the club’s dress standards. This usually is relaxed and comfortable, with some uniform requirements once you enter higher level competitions.

Burnt End or Dead End
When the jack is driven out of bounds (off to one side), the end is cancelled.

Dead Bowl
A bowl that either comes to rest out of bounds (off to one side) or ends in the ditch.

The manner in which the bowl is released. A smooth delivery will usually result in a good shot; a clumsy, awkward delivery usually the opposite.

Used as a noun, verb and adjective. To draw is to deliver the bowl intending to get as close to the jack as possible. The draw is the lateral distance the bowl will bend on the green. A draw shot is again, getting as close to the jack as possible.

A flat grass surface on which the game is played.

Noun or adjective. A bowl deliberately played to obstruct access to another bowl.

The assembly of bowls around the jack at any given moment.

The target ball, white or yellow and 63mm (2 ½ inches in diameter).

A casual tournament, not for a title or trophy, strictly for fun.

A device used for establishing the distance between a bowl and jack when scoring an end.

A competitive match where each team consists of 4 players, hence the name quadi. For the first event the skips, of for instance team A and team B, peel off and play singles against each other and the remaining three play triples A versus B. In the second event, each team splits in two and plays two games of doubles, for instance teams A versus Teams C. In the third event, the whole team plays fours, for instance team A versus team D. The ideal number of entrants for a quadi is 24 (6 X 4)or 32 (8 x 4). However the concept can be modified to a Quinti, 30 (6 x 5), a Hexi, 36 (6 X 6) or even a Penti, 42 (6 x 7).

A device used to collect the bowls after an end is counted.


Teams play within a designated area on a green which is situated between boundary markers seen at each end. The rink is identified by a number also seen between the markers at each end.

A bowl delivered at speed with the intent of knocking out an opponent's bowl, to disturb the head or even to burn the end.

A bowl that has hit the jack before coming to a halt. Significant is the fact that even if the bowl immediately or subsequently ends up in the ditch it is still a live bowl.

Noun or verb. To wick is to bounce off another bowl before coming to rest. To get a wick, is to achieve the above. A wick can be deliberate or often fortuitous.