Welcome to our
animated tutorial on lawn bowls.
The green area to the left is a "virtual rink"
where we'll give the lessons. But before stepping
onto the green, let's review some A-B-Cs
of the game . . .
The Objective of the Game
The object of the game is to deliver bowls closer to the jack (the small white ball) than your opponent to earn the right to score points. The player or team with the closest bowl to the jack earns one point, or "shot," for each bowl closer to the jack than the nearest opponent bowl.
There are three game formats:
SHOTS In this format, a game point is predetermined. In Singles championship play it's 21 points. As scoring bowls are called "shots," the first player to attain 21 shots is the winner of the game.
ENDS In this format, a game is comprised of a predetermined number of ends, ranging from 15 to 21. The team with the most points after playing the predetermined number of ends is the winner of the game.
TIME In this format, a game is played for a predetermined period of time. The team with the most points at the end of this time period is the winner of the game.
Singles, Teams and Sides
Bowls is played between opponents in various arrangements, including Singles, Teams and Sides.
SINGLES This is a game between two players, each playing two, three or four bowls singly and alternately. In championship matches, the first player to earn 21 points is the winner.
TEAMS Teams may be comprised of two, three or four players.
Pairs This is a game between two teams comprised of two players each. In championship matches, a Pairs game is 21 ends, four bowls per player, played alternately.
Triples This is a game between two teams comprised of three players each. In championship matches, a Triples game is 18 ends, three bowls per player, played alternately.
Fours This is a game between two teams comprised of four players each: Lead, Second, Third and Skip. In championship matches, a Fours game is 21 ends, two bowls per player, played alternately. Fours Play is the basis of the game of bowls.
SIDES This is a match between any agreed number of teams and/or singles players, whose combined scores determine the results of the match.
The green is the rectangular playing surface bounded by a ditch and divided into playing areas called rinks.
A rink is comprised of several features.
THE DITCHES A rink is terminated at each end by a ditch. The front ditch is at the far end, and the rear ditch is behind the mat. Both ditches are within the boundaries of the rink. A bowl falling into the front ditch is considered "dead" unless it first touches the jack before falling into the ditch in which case it's called a "toucher" and remains in play.
THE BANK A defined area beyond the ditch is called the bank. The face of the bank rises higher than the level of the green and facilitates markers that indicate the centre and side lines of each rink.
THE SIDE LINES Side lines are not marked on the rink, but are indicated by markers on the face of the bank. Bowls that travel beyond the sideline but curve back in are still in play.
THE MAT The mat is placed on the center line of the rink by the lead bowler of each end. One foot of the bowler must be on the mat when delivering the bowl or jack. A second mat is used at the other end of the rink for the return end.
The jack, the small white ball, is delivered first, to establish the target.
A coin is flipped to determine which player/team delivers the jack to start the game. The winner of the previous end delivers the jack to start the next end.
Once in play, the jack may be knocked by a bowl to a new position.
Okay, let's have some fun! Simply click on the underlined words to see the animations on our virtual rink . . .
Delivering the Jack
First the jack must be properly delivered.
Then it must be centred at that distance.
If it's a long delivery within 2m of the front ditch the jack must be spotted on the centre line at a point 2m from the ditch.
Spot the jack.
Improper Delivery of the Jack
If the jack is not properly delivered it must be returned and given to the opposing team to deliver. Following are examples of a jack improperly delivered:
When the the jack is delivered less than 23m from the mat
When the the jack is delivered too long and falls into the front ditch
When the the jack is delivered outside the side boundary of the rink
If both teams fail to deliver the jack properly, it's spotted on the centre line at a point 2m from the front ditch.
Regardless of who delivers the jack, the winner of the previous end remains the lead bowler.
The jack can now be turned over to the opposing team.
Bowls are available in a choice of nine sizes and weights.
The interesting feature about bowls is that they are not exactly symmetrical one side is more rounded than the other, causing the bowl to curve to one side as it slows down. This is referred to as the "bias" of the bowl.
Let's deliver some bowls to see how they curve.
First of all, let's deliver the jack to give us a target.
Now the jack must be centred at that distance.
Our object now is to deliver the bowl as close to the jack as possible. But, as the next demonstration shows, if you aim directly at the jack the bowl will curve out to the side.
To allow for the curve, the bowl must be delivered to the outside so it curves in and approaches the jack from either the left or the right. The bowler decides if a right or left approach is more desirable.
The curving bowl affords endless possibilities and strategies. (Try to imagine the game if the bowl didn't curve!)
At the completion of an end, only the player/team with the closest bowl to the jack is entitled to score points one point for each bowl closer to the jack than the nearest opponent bowl.
Let's play a sample end with two players, each having 4 bowls. Player A will have the black bowls, and Player B will have the brown bowls.
A running commentary will explain the bowls in scoring position.
To start, the jack is delivered to establish the target.
This is a good delivery. The jack must now be centred at that distance.
The game is now in play!
Now each player will deliver the first bowl:
PLAYER A - FIRST BOWL
A little long, but the advantage of a long bowl is that it could be in a scoring position if the jack is knocked back.
PLAYER B - FIRST BOWL
Player B tries a similar delivery, and succeeds in getting closer to the jack.
Player B currently has 1 bowl in a scoring position, because Player B's bowl is closer to the jack than Player A's bowl.
The second bowl:
PLAYER A - SECOND BOWL
An approach from the right results in an excellent delivery. This is the bowl to beat.
PLAYER B - SECOND BOWL
Player B sticks with a left approach but doesn't beat Player A's second bowl.
Player A currently has 1 bowl in a scoring position
The third bowl:
PLAYER A - THIRD BOWL
Another approach from the right, but the delivery is a little long.
PLAYER B - THIRD BOWL
Player B contines to refine the left approach, and delivers a perfect bowl that's in a scoring position.
Player B currently has 1 bowl in a scoring position
The fourth bowl:
PLAYER A - FOURTH BOWL
Another approach from the right. A nice try, but not good enough.
PLAYER B - FOURTH BOWL
With one bowl in a scoring position, Player B is bowling for 2 points. The delivery has a nice line but is a little heavy, knocking the jack closer to Player A's bowls.
Bad luck for Player B the jack was knocked back, putting three of Player A's bowls closer to the jack than Player B's nearest bowl.
Player A is awarded 3 points or 3 "shots" for the end.
Sometimes it's difficult to eyeball which of two bowls is closer to the jack. For this reason, players usually carry a measuring device devised for this purpose, but bowls can't be measured until the end is completed.
"The Real Thing"
We hope you've enjoyed this introductory tutorial and had fun playing an end of "virtual bowls" on our web turf. Please contact us if you'd like to try "the real thing" it's fun, healthy and very inexpensive. Membership includes free lessons. (Not that you need them now!) At least give it a try we'd love to have you join us.
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Animated tutorial used under licence from webTurf
Tutorial and animations copyright © 20012013 Gary Wilcox Studios Incorporated.
All rights reserved. Animations not to scale.