How to Play Lawn Bowls? – All About Bowls Sports Rules, Scoring, and Winning 

How to Play Lawn Bowls? – All About Bowls Sports Rules, Scoring, and Winning 

Lawn bowls is an interesting and fun game to play with friends and family. This game involves bowls and jacks and can be played by almost anyone. Competitive bowling is a little bit exhausting as the players are expected to perform for three to four hours without any break. Sounds interesting? Here is an article with all you need to know about lawn bowls sport, its rules, and scoring. 

The game lawn bowls are played using bowls and jacks. Bowls are almost-spherical ball-like objects that have a weight bias and flattened sides. In this game, the bowls are rolled or bowled towards the jacks on the bowling green. 

Lawn bowls can be played outside on grass or outside. Moreover, you can also play this game on convex pitches or flat pitches. 

History of Lawn Bowls

The lawn bowl sport is a variant of ‘boules,’ which is a game of prehistoric or ancient origin. The aim of tossing the bowls was to reach a target as closely as possible.

In England, the traces of bowls are found in the 13th century and possibly earlier. The Oldest surviving bowling green of the world is the Southampton Old Bowling Green, and it dates back to 1299. 

In 1864, the first set of bowling rules named “Manual of Bowls Playing” was published by William Wallace Mitchell. He was a Glasgow cotton merchant and formed the basic bowling rules that we use today. 

At the present time, bowls are played in approximately 40 countries and have around 50 member national authorities. Moreover, the home of lawn bowls sport is present in Scotland. It has the World Bowls Centre located in Edinburgh. 

Object of Lawn Bowls

Lawn bowls sport is played on a big rectangular surface of precisely manicured and leveled surfaces or synthetic surfaces called bowling green. 

The main aim of lawn bowls sport is to roll the bowls as close as possible to the jack. Moreover, the players need to make sure that one or more bowls are closer to the jack as compared to those of the opponents.  

Players and Equipment

In order to understand the bowl rules, it is better to have a look at the basics first. Below mentioned are some equipment needed to play lawn bowls. 

  • Rink – It is the area in which the game is played. It is usually a grassed and flat area that is bounded using boundary pegs. 
  • Centre Line – It is a line present down to the center of the rink.
  • Jack – It is a small white ball that is rolled out close to the centerline. The main aim is to get the bowls as close as possible to the jack. 
  • Bowls – These are used by the players. Bowls are weighted on one side, which leads it to curve when it rolls. Each player uses up to four bowls.
  • Mat – It is placed on the center line. Players have to stand on the mat to bowl. 

The bowls come in a wide range of sizes; nevertheless, usually, they are approximately 1.5kg in weight. Moreover, they have a bias in weight so that they can easily roll in a curved path. 

Bowls is played on the bowling green, which is divided into rinks. The rinks are approximately 31 to 40 meters long and 4.3 to 5.8 meters wide. At the end of the green, a ditch is present. It should be wide enough so that bowls can fall into it when they reach it. 

Different variations of lawn bowls sport include singles (one player against another), pairs (two players against two another), and triples or fours. 

Read More – How to Choose the Right Bowling Ball?


Basically, two strategies are used to play indoor bowls or outdoor bowls.

  • Draw Shot – It is a slow, finessed, and measured bowl shot in which the players try to end the bowl closest to the jack. 
  • Drive Shot – This one is a faster and harder bowl shot that is used to knock the bowls of the other players away. 


At the end of a round, the player whose bowl is closest to the jack is awarded a point. In case a player or a team has more bowls closer to the jack as compared to the opponent, then the points are awarded accordingly. Below mentioned are some common scoring rules for lawn bowls.

  • The player whose bowls or a bowl is closest to the jack is the winner. 
  • Points are given on the basis of the number of bowls closest to the jack.
  • Players judge the number and the distance by eye.
  • In case of dispute, a measuring tape is used.
  • If there are disputes even after using a measuring tape, then an umpire is called to resolve the dispute.

Winning Lawn Bowls

The number of points that are needed to win a lawn bowls game differs from competition to competition. However, usually, the first player to attain 21 points or to achieve more points after 21 or 18 wins the game. 

Players can also play “sets,” and the first to score, for example, seven points, is the winner of the set. Moreover, the overall winner is the player who is first to attain five sets or the determined number. 

Lawn Bowls Rules

Below mentioned are some lawn bowls sport rules to help you understand the game better. 

  • A coin toss is used to decide which player or team will bowl first. After to+ss, the first bowler places the mat and rolls the jack on the green.
  • It is essential that the jack travels at least 23 meters so that it could be “in play.” Once the jack comes to rest, it is moved to the center of the rink. 
  • After this, the players take a chance to bowl. The points are scored on the basis of each bowl that is closer to the jack as compared to the opponent’s bowl. 
  • After the competition of the end play, the players begin in the opposite direction.
  • When bowls fall into the ditch, it is considered disregarded. 
  • In case the bowl goes to the ditch after touching the ditch, then the bowl is considered in play.
  • If the jack falls into the ditch, but it is within the rink’s side boundaries, then it is considered in play or still “alive.” However, if the rink passes the rink’s side boundaries, then a “dead end” is declared. The end is replated after this, and no scores are counted.
  • Players are allowed to strike the bowls of other players with the aim to get a strategic advantage. 

Final Words

Lawn bowls is a fun game to play and watch. It is a simple but strategic game as the players need to get their bowls close to the jack. The game can be played both outdoors and indoors, and the bowl rules are the same in both cases. If you find the information on lawn bowls interesting, drop a comment. 


rashmi saini

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