The Game of Bowls

Because of the intricacies of the game of bowls and the many variables that can be applied, we can only provide a basic grounding of the rudiments of the game on this page.

Although most of the following information may sound like a foreign language to you, it’s really quite simple:

Basics of the game of bowls

  • Lawn bowls is played outdoors on grass and indoors on artificial surfaces
  • A match may be for singles, pairs, triples, or fours
  • In singles and pairs each player has four bowls (colloquially known as “woods”)
  • For triples each player has three woods
  • In fours, also known as ‘rinks’, each player has 2 woods.

Phew! That’s the first part done. Still hanging in there? OK. Here we go with rest of it:


  • The bowls may not weigh more than 3½ lb (1.59 kg) and their circumference may not exceed 16½ in (41.9 cm)
  • Bowls are flattened slightly on one side and this causes a bias. The bias will make the bowl tend to move on a curving path as it “draws” towards the jack or object ball
  • Woods are delivered alternately by opposing players who, at the moment of delivery, must have at least one foot on a rubber mat or footer
  • The bowl is aimed towards the jack (a small white ball with a diameter of 2½ in 6.35 cm), which must be cast a minimum of 25 yd (22.9 m) up the green.

WOW! But, that’s about as technical as this game gets.

Objectives of the game

  • The object is for the player (or team) to get his or her woods as near the jack as possible, and in any case nearer than those of their opponent
  • One point is won for each bowl nearer the jack than one’s opponent’s best bowl
  • An end is completed when all bowls have been rolled.
  • Your score is accumulated and checked by your opponent as the game progresses
  • Nothing could be simpler!

There really is no substitute for actually getting the bowls in your hand and having a go. Everyone has to start somewhere. Our coaches and members will be only too pleased to help.

Please don’t feel as though you have to be at a certain level of skill before you come down to the NSC.

Find out more:

The health and social benefits of bowls

Bowls etiquette

Alternatively, contact the association’s secretary via email at