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Intro to Bowls

Bowls is a competitive sport played outdoors on carefully manicured grass.  The object is for the players or teams to roll their balls (referred to as "bowls") closer to a small white ball (The "Jack") than the opponent's bowls.  Sound boring?  Read on.
bowl trajectory.jpg


The sport is deceptively challenging because the bowl is asymmetrical so that it's trajectory is along  a curved path. This forces the player to roll the bowl in an outward direction with an angle to reach the target. A player's ability to come close to the jack will depend on an assessment as to the bowl's trajectory line, the amount of effort needed for the bowl to reach its target, and the accuracy of rolling the bowl.

Not Just for Canadians!


Bowls 101

Bowls is distinguished by use of a biased ball, the “bowl”. It is deliberately asymetrical so that it always curves as it slows down.

Because the object is to get the team's bowls closest to the Jack, strategy and skill are important in the delivery of  each bowl. 


A point is awarded to the player or team whose bowl is closest to the jack at the end of a round ( an “End”). If a player or team has more than one bowl closer to the Jack than their opponents, they will score the corresponding number of points.

Games are played between opposing teams, each with from one to four players
     SINGLES games are played between two players, 
     DOUBLES between two pairs, 
     TRIPLES between teams of three, and
     FOURS (also named"Rinks") between teams of four players.

The art or skill is in the judgment of the weight, curve, and distance of each delivery to achieve the desired outcome.

Bowls are delivered either forehand or backhand, with varying speed based on desired outcome. The delivery selected is dependent on many factors, including the position of other bowls already in play and the condition of the green. 

The game starts with a player on one team centering the mat with the front being at least 2 yards from front ditch. The player then rolls the Jack up the rink and has it centered at the distance at which it came to rest.

The players on each team then alternate rolling their bowls from the mat towards the jack until all bowls have been delivered. The score for that end is then calculated by counting all the bowls from one team that are closer to the jack than any bowls of the opponents. Although it is possible to score as many points as your team has bowls, a  typical score for an end would be one or two points,

A player from the team that won the previous end then rolls the jack in the reverse direction to start the next end. The game continues for the designated number of ends, with the score for each end being added to the scoreboard as the game progresses.


Bowl delivery video
Draw Shot
Basic Rules
Hand Signals

Now, that you  are ready for a game of social bowls, the following  rules will ensure an orderly and fun game. 

1. Mat Placement:  The first to play places the mat on the center line with the front of the mat at least 2 yards from the Ditch and up to the Hog Line if desired. (6.1.1)


2. Foot Faulting:  Before delivery a player must be standing on the mat with all or part of at least one foot on the mat. At the moment they deliver the Jack or a bowl, the player must have all or part of one foot on or above the mat. (7.1)


3. Jack / Bowl Length:  A jack must travel 23 yards from the mat line to be legal while a bowl must travel 14 yards from mat line  to be in play.  (10.1.3 and 17.1.3)


4. Jack Delivery:   If the Jack is improperly delivered the opposition may reposition the mat and deliver the Jack but does not play first. If the Jack is delivered improperly by both leads the Jack is placed at the 2 yard mark and the first to play may reposition the mat.


5. Touchers:   Only the delivered bowl may be a toucher even if it deflects off other bowls before touching the jack. 

6. Position on Rink:  Players at the mat end who are not delivering a bowl should stand at least 1 yard behind the mat. Players at the head end who are not controlling play should stand behind the jack.


7. Playing Wrong Bowl:  Replace with correct bowl


8. Playing out of Turn:   Opposition skip has choice: a)may stop the bowl,  b) leave it and have two bowls played to restore proper sequence, c) reset disturbed head and restore proper sequence, d) leave disturbed head and play two bowls or e) declare dead end.


9. Bowl & Jack Displacement:  Numerous scenarios can arise. The opposition Skip and Skips have options. The options depend upon the cause and timing of the displacement.


10. Rink Possession: Possession of the rink belongs to the player or team whose bowl is being played.


11. Determining score: Bowls should not be moved until the number of shots has been agreed upon by the Vice or Skip.


12. Objects on the green:  No objects should be placed on the bank, the Green or in the Ditch to help a player. 

13. Game stoppage:  If a game has been stop for a valid reason and all bowls have not been played, the end is declared dead. 

For Complete Set of Rules & Relevant Links See Below:
Laws of the Sport
south central bo
World of Bowls.jpg
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