Beginners Guide

Bowls is a sport for all – all ages, all sexes and all abilities.

It is a game that takes just seconds to learn – and the rest of your bowling career to master!


Like many games, the object of bowls is essentially simple. It can be played by anyone, but to play consistently well demands determination, concentration and practice.

The game is played on a square of closely cut grass called ‘the green’, which is divided into playing areas/lanes called rinks.

The green is surrounded by a small ditch to catch bowls which leave the green, and a bank upon which coloured markers indicate the sides and centrelines of each rink.

Players take turns to deliver their bowls from a mat at one end of the rink towards a small white ball called the jack at the other end. The bowls are shaped so that they take a curved path towards the jack. To be successful the bowl must be delivered with the correct weight, along the correct line, and stop as close as possible to the jack.

The object is to get one or more of your bowls closer to the jack than those of your opponents – one point is scored for each counting bowl.
Matches consist of different numbers of ‘ends’. One game, played across the green, is called an ‘end’. The most common number of ends in a match is 18 or 21.

There are many different formats of the game, but the most common in England are singles or teams of pairs, triples or fours. In singles, the winner is the first to score 21 points. In the other three formats, the winner is the team that scores the most points over a set number of ends