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The Definitive Guide to Bowls

The Game of Bowls
Bowls has become a popular sport, and with all ages now enjoying the sport, it may be the perfect time to try it for yourself. But don’t worry if you’ve not played before and you’d like to take it up as a new hobby. Lawn Bowls could be just the ideal activity, even if you can’t take part in strenuous activity, for whatever reason. People of all ages play the game – in many clubs, the average age is in the mid-30s.

The game’s object is simple: to roll your Bowls to as close to the small white ball (called a Jack or Kitty) as possible and to ensure that one or more of your Bowls are nearer to the Jack than any of those of your opponent – even if this is achieved by your Bowl knocking aside an opponent’s Bowl or moving the Jack.


Picture Credit: “Lawn Bowls – 2” by Neal3K is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bowls, or Lawn Bowls, is played on a Bowling Green or Rink, which may be flat (for “flat-green Bowls”) or convex or uneven (for Crown Green Bowls). It is typically played outdoors (although there are many indoor venues), and the outdoor surface is either natural grass, artificial turf or cotula (in New Zealand).

The game of Bowls is generally played on a flat lawn, about 40–42 yards square and surrounded by a shallow ditch and grass banks beyond. The green is divided into six rectangular sections, or rinks, each being about 18–21 feet wide. Bowls are also called woods, even though they may be made of rubber, wood, or other material.

Bowls measure from 4.75 to 5.75 inches in diameter and have a maximum weight of 3.5 pounds. They are coloured black or brown. They are also Biased, which means they are flattened on one side so that they follow a curved course when rolled. The Jack is white, weighs 8 to 10 ounces and has a diameter of 2.5 inches (6.3 cm). Players deliver their Bowls from a rubber mat measuring 24 by 14 inches.

Bowls is a simple and enjoyable game to take up, particularly indoor Bowls. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never watched a game before and know nothing about it. Some of the benefits of indoor Bowls include friendship (it’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends), as well as the fact it’s suitable for people of all ages and abilities – including those who are partially sighted or even in a wheelchair. Some leisure hotels (such as Warner Leisure Hotels) cater to experienced players and newcomers.

Playing Bowls[1]
At the beginning of a game, competitors flip a coin to see who wins the Mat. Play begins when a Jack (a small white ball) is rolled to the opposite end of the Rink, and it becomes the target so long as it stops at least 25 yards from the delivery mat (from which the players roll their Bowls).

The players take turns to deliver their Bowls. One foot must remain on or over the Mat when a Bowl is being delivered or over the Mat as it leaves your hand. Failure to do this is judged as a foot fault. When all the Bowls have been delivered, the number of shots is counted. A shot is a Bowl nearer to the Jack than any of your opponents’ Bowls. For example, if you have two shots nearer the Jack than any of your opponents’ Bowls, you score two shots at that end.

In singles and pairs (doubles) games, each player uses four Bowls; in triples, every player has three Bowls; and in fours, or rink games, two Bowls per player are used. When all the Bowls have been delivered, an end is said to be complete.

The winning ‘skip’ (team captain) chooses where the Mat is placed, and it becomes the starting point from which all Bowlers must Bowl their Bowls. The Jack is rolled to the other end of the green (the ‘end’). After it stops, it is centred on the Rink, and players take turns to roll their balls from the Mat towards it. A Bowl may curve outside the rink boundary, but it must come to rest within it to remain in play. Bowls that fall into the ditch at the green’s end are taken from the play except for Bowls that ‘touch’ the Jack beforehand.

After each competitor has delivered all their Bowls – four Bowls each in singles and pairs, three in triples, and two in fours – the distance of the closest Bowls to the Jack is measured. The winning team gets as many points or ‘shots’ as it has Bowls closer to the Jack than the best Bowl of the losing team. A game normally lasts 21 ‘ends’ (segments of competition). In a singles game, the winner is the first to score 21 shots. In pairs, triples and fours, the winner is the team that has scored the most shots after 18 ends of play.

There is no prescribed number of points in singles matches, but the usual number played is 21. In scoring, all the Bowls of one team nearest to the Jack at the finish of an end, than the nearest Bowl of the opposing team, count for one point each.

History
Bowls is a variant of the boules games, which in their general form, are of ancient or prehistoric origin. Stone Age excavations have confirmed that some sort of game was played with rounded rocks which were rolled or Bowled to a peg or other marker.

Historical evidence of Bowls-like games has been found in the cultures of the Ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, the early Polynesians, and various North American aboriginal cultures. Ancient Greek variants are recorded that involved throwing light objects (such as flat stones, coins, or later also stone balls) as far as possible. The aspect of tossing the balls to approach a target as closely as possible is recorded in ancient Rome. This game was spread to Roman Gaul by soldiers or sailors. A Roman sepulchre in Florence shows people playing this game, stooping down to measure the points.

Bowls has been played in England since the 13th century, and its popularity waxed and waned until the mid-19th century, when it experienced a revival, especially in Scotland. The Scots developed flat greens and drew up rules that have remained largely unchanged.

The earliest Bowling club in Britain is Chesterfield Bowling Club in Derbyshire, believed to date back to 1294.

The world’s oldest surviving Bowling Green
Southampton Old Bowling Green, situated on the corner of Lower Canal Walk and Platform Road, Southampton is the world’s oldest surviving Bowling green. It was first used in 1299.

God’s House Hospital was a refuge for poor travellers in Southampton. The Hospital of “God’s House” was founded in 1185 for pilgrims who were going either to the shrine of St Swithun at Winchester or to Canterbury. The green adjoining the Hospital had been established during the reign of Richard I the Lionheart for the recreational use of the Warden and was first used for a game of Bowls in 1299. The Bowling club that plays there now is believed to have been established in the 17th century because of the history of a competition known as the “Knighthood”. According to the City of Southampton Society, it is also the only club with a “Master” in charge – a title carried forward from the earliest of days.

Wikipedia explains that a unique occurrence called the “Knighthood” competition is held annually when the members (gentlemen commoners) compete to obtain 7 points, with the winner being awarded the title of “Knight-of-the-green” and becoming a sir (in lower case). The competition is adjudicated by the members who have previously won the competition (Knights), who judge in top hats and frocked tails suits. Those who succeed are unable to compete again in future Knighthood competitions. This is the annual competition of the club with rules which are different from the normal variant of the game.

The Game of Bowls through the ages
Bowls in England has been traced back to at least the 13th century. The game eventually came under the ban of the king and parliament, both fearing it might jeopardise the practice of archery, then so important in battle. Statutes forbidding it and other sports were enacted in the reigns of Edward III, Richard II and other monarchs. Even when, on the invention of gunpowder and firearms, the bow had fallen into disuse as a weapon of war, the prohibition was continued. The discredit attaching to Bowling alleys, first established in London in 1455, probably encouraged subsequent repressive legislation, for many of the alleys were connected with taverns frequented by the dissolute and gamesters.

William Shakespeare mentions the sport in Act III of Richard II – indicating that both men and women could be found on Bowling greens. Sir Francis Drake is reputed to have been playing Bowls at Plymouth Hoe while the Spanish Armada sailed up the British Channel in 1588.

By a 1541 statute of Henry VIII (not repealed until 1845 in the reign of Queen Victoria), artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like were forbidden to play Bowls at any time except at Christmas then only in their master’s house and in their presence. It was further enjoined that anyone playing Bowls outside his own garden or orchard was liable to a penalty of 6s. 8d.(6 shillings and 8 pence), while those owning land of the yearly value of £100 might obtain licences to play on their own private greens.

The patenting of the first grass lawn mower in 1830 in Britain is believed to have been the catalyst for the worldwide preparation of modern-style greens, sporting ovals, playing fields, pitches, grass courts, etc. In turn, it led to the codification of modern rules for many sports, including Lawn Bowls.

Today, Bowls is played in over 40 countries with more than 50 member national authorities. The home of the modern game is still Scotland, with the World Bowls Centre in Edinburgh. The International Bowling Board, the ruling body of Lawn Bowls, was founded in 1905. The English Indoor Bowling Association (EIBA) was founded in 1971.

Variations on a theme
Indoor Bowls are a variation of lawns Bowls that made the game more accessible to be played all year round, whatever the weather. Indoor Bowls is very similar to lawn Bowls and is played on strips of imitation green which are roughly the same length as the outdoor sport. The rules differ slightly to lawn Bowls, but essentially it is the same game. There are also two other Bowling games which can be played inside; short mat Bowls and Carpet Bowls.

Beginners: What Equipment do you need to play Bowls?
There are some good guidelines on what clothing to wear and the equipment you’ll need at https://www.Bowls.co.uk/flat-green/flat-green-equipment. Here is a quick summary:

  • Shoes: Shoes must conform to the laws of the game. As a game of Bowls can take from three to four hours to complete, your footwear should be for comfort first.
  • Clothing: Generally, except for club matches or representative games, clothing should be white or cream above the waist, with grey trousers. Club matches or competitions may require you to wear white trousers or shorts rather than grey.
  • Waterproofs: Because of the unreliability of British summers, it would be a good idea to buy a good-quality set of waterproofs. Some Bowlers have a small towel or chamois leather to keep the Bowl dry during wet weather.
  • Bowls and Jack Lifter: If you have difficulty in bending to pick up your Bowls or the Jack, you may need a Lifter. Costing around £20 to £30, a Lifter usually has a telescopic, foldaway design and a soft padded handle for comfort.
  • Measuring Tape, Score Cards & Pencils: You’ll need something to measure which Bowl is the closest to the Jack. You’ll also need a card and pencil to keep score while you play.
  • Bowls: Selecting your first set of Bowls can be a bit of a minefield. There are more than 30 models currently on sale, all with unique characteristics, in 8 different sizes, and many colours to choose from. The top three Bowls for beginners are suggested to be Drakes Pride (Professional), Taylor (Vector VS) and Aero (Quantum). You’ll also need a bag or special box to carry your Bowls. Some retailers offer pre-loved, second-hand Bowls at bargain prices.

Where can you play?
The simple answer is almost everywhere. There are more than 2,500 clubs across England, so it’s likely there will be one that’s near to you. And Bowls is a relatively cheap game compared to other sports, whether you choose to join a club or ‘pay and play’ at your local park.

Is Bowls an Olympic or World Games Sport[2]
Bowling was featured in the Summer Olympic Games demonstration programme at the Seoul’s Royal Bowling Center on 18th September 1988. A total of 20 nations competed in the men’s and women’s tournament. No bowling professionals competed in the demonstration events. It was also a demonstration sport at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

The first multi-sport event in which bowling was contested as an official sport was the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok. Bowling has been an official sport at every quadrennial World Games from the first edition in 1981 in the United States, including the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw, Poland. The sport was removed from the Asian Games program for the 1982 Games in Delhi, India, but returned four years later in the 1986 Games in Seoul, South Korea. The public interest in this edition of the Asian Games was resounding, and as a result, the bowling industry lobbied long and hard for bowling to be recognised as a potential Olympic sport and a demonstration sport for future Games, but the outcome was unsuccessful. However, after its first demonstration appearance at the Americas-exclusive 1983 Pan American Games, bowling appeared as an official sport with full medal status at the 1991 Pan American Games on 2nd August 1991, in Havana, Cuba.

On 22nd June 2015, it was announced that bowling made the cut from the 28 sports to the last eight to become a new sport for the 2020 Summer Olympics. However, three months later, it was announced that bowling was left out for the 2020 Games as the Olympic Committee wanted sports that appealed to the young and would not require having to build new facilities.

Rules of Bowls
The first set of rules called the Manual of Bowls Playing, was published in 1864 and was written by a Glasgow cotton merchant named William Wallace Mitchell and formed the basis of the rules of Bowls as known today. There are several places online where you can learn the rules of Bowls, such as:

Bowls Glossary
This glossary of Bowls terms and definitions is comprehensive and has been compiled from several reliable sources[3]:

  • Absolute: the Bowl closest to the Jack, often in relation to other Bowls surrounding the Head. It is also referred to as the “absolute shot.”
  • Aero: name of an Australian-based Bowls manufacturer.
  • Artificial: the surface on which Bowls is played is made of man-made materials compared to grass greens.
  • Back Bowl: A Bowl that has come to rest beyond the Jack or the main body of Bowls in the Head.
  • Back Ditch: The ditch at the end of the green that is directly behind a player when they stand on the Mat.
  • Backhand Draw: When the Bowl is aimed to the left of the Jack and curves to the right (for left-handed Bowlers).
  • Backhand: For a right-handed player, delivering a Bowl to the left-hand side of the Rink, with the bias facing the centre line of the Rink. For a left handed player, delivering a Bowl to the right-hand side of the Rink, with the bias facing the centre line of the Rink.
  • Bank: The outer wall of the ditch that surrounds the green. It is raised above the playing surface.
  • Bankers: reserve players who have not been selected to play in a competitive game. On competition days, those players not selected to play may have a practice game at the same time that the competition is in progress. In the past, the term also described those players watching and critiquing the game from the Bank, and an obsolete meaning, spelt “banckers”, referred to skilful Bowlers who lured unsuspecting amateurs into playing them for money or other prizes. . In Australia, the origin of the name may also stem from sponsorship by a bank who provided tips or other financial support to clubs.
  • Be Up: Means the same as ‘Do not be short’, only it’s more emphatic. It’s an instruction from Skip to Bowl longer.
  • Bent: A type of grass (botanical name: agrostis stolonifera) used to construct lawn Bowls greens. Known for its carpet-like cover and the ability to grow successfully in a wide variety of climates.
  • Bias: The natural curve built into a Bowl, creating an arc from the point of releasing the Bowl to the point it stops. The smaller button notes the Bias side of the Bowl. Bias is correct when the Bowl curves towards the Jack.
  • Bigs: A call made when determining which player will deliver the first Bowl at the start of a game. One player will roll a Bowl end over end, and calling “bigs” refers to the Bowl stopping with the side where the larger rings are facing upward. See also, Smalls.
  • Block or Stopper/Blocker: A Bowl delivered with the correct pace to stop short of the objective, hoping that it will prevent an opponent from playing a certain shot.
  • Boundary Peg: A marker placed on the Bank to indicate the outside the boundary of a Rink. If a Bowl finishes completely outside the boundary, it is a dead Bowl. If the Jack is rolled outside the boundary when first delivered, it is returned to the Mat for the opposition player to roll the Jack. If the Jack is moved outside the boundary after being placed on the centre line, the end is declared a dead end and is replayed, unless the competition has a local rule to spot the Jack in such situations.
  • Bowl: the biased ball used in the game of Bowls. The side of the Bowl that is biased can be identified by the smaller engraved concentric rings seen, compared to the outer (non-biased) side of the Bowl.
  • Bowling Arm: a device that enables players who cannot bend as part of a standard delivery action to Bowl in an upright position. Bowling arms are normally licensed or approved by the controlling body and also require the Bowler to have a medical certificate to verify the need for use.
  • Bowls: The sport’s official name, as defined by World Bowls.
  • Bowls Cloth: A piece of cloth used by Bowlers to clean and/or polish a Bowl during a game. They are made of various materials, with the most popular being cotton cloth or a chamois for wet conditions.
  • Bowls: Usually a set of four identical Bowls manufactured under strictly controlled specifications. It is essential that Bowlers choose a set that they can use with the greatest ease and comfort.
  • Break: During a game, a Break is a planned stoppage in play, usually an afternoon tea break. In some competitions, local regulations allow the managers to determine if a break is taken or if the teams play straight through to completion.
  • Callipers: A piece of equipment used by an umpire or a player to judge the relative distance between the Jack and one or more Bowls at the conclusion of an End, which will determine the number of shots held by a player or team.
  • Carpet Bowls (a.k.a. (indoor Bowls): a variation of outdoor Bowls, played on a rectangular piece of carpet that is laid out on the floor and can be rolled up a stored away between games. The game of Carpet Bowls has different types of Bowls, that are smaller than an outdoor Bowl, and the rules that govern play are unique to this particular form of the game.
  • Centre-Line: An imaginary line that runs lengthwise down the centre of the Rink. It represents the midpoint of a Rink between the Boundary Pegs. Some greens will have centre lines drawn on the Rink from the two-metre mark towards the middle of the Green at both ends, extending for a few metres. The Jack is aligned with the centre line after being rolled by a player at the start of an End.
  • Chalk: used to indicate a Bowl that has touched the Jack as part of its initial delivery during an End. A player in charge of the Head will use a piece of chalk, or chalk spray, to place a mark, which must be done before the next Bowl comes to a rest and must be removed before the Bowl is delivered in the next end.
  • Change of Ends: once all Bowls have been delivered by players standing at the Mat end of the Rink, they will move to the other end of the Rink. See also Crossover.
  • Chasing: It means following your Bowl down the Green after delivery. If permitted by the rules of the competition, the player is expected to be positioned behind the Head on or before the Bowl comes to rest. See also Riding.
  • Chock: a piece of material placed under a Bowl to hold it in place on the Green. When a Measure is called for, and a Bowl is leaning on another Bowl, it is sometimes necessary to chock the Bowl so that one Bowl can be removed without changing the position of the other. Materials used include rubber and foam Wedges, or short lengths of rope.
  • Claw Grip (aka Cradle Grip): a method of holding the Bowl in your hand, where the running surface of the Bowl sits along the fingers of the hand, with the thumb held at or near the top of the Bowl as a balancing mechanism.
  • Composite: A shorthand term describing the material used to manufacture a Bowl. Most modern Bowls are made of a hardened composite plastic material. Before composite plastic was used, Bowls were made from a hardwood material, usually lignum vitae. See also Wood.
  • Count: the number of shots received by a player or team at the conclusion of an End.
  • Counter: a Bowl closer to the Jack than an opponent’s nearest Bowl is considered a “counter”. See also Count.
  • Cover that Bowl: An instruction to a Bowler to Bowl in such a way that the Bowl finishes between the Jack and the Bowl indicated.
  • Crack an Egg: a description of the weight required to complete an ideal shot. The objective is to play the Bowl such that it gently hits the target and moves it slightly, or has a flow-on impact on moving a Bowl or Jack that is touching the target.
  • Crossover: in a team game, when all players at the Mat end of the Rink have delivered their Bowls, they will move to the opposite end of the Rink, and the player in charge of the Head, usually the Skip crosses over to the Mat end to deliver their Bowls.
  • Crown Green: describes a variation of outdoor Bowls, which is played on Greens having an undulating surface, with a peak in the middle. Play also differs as there are no rink boundaries, and the Jack also has a Bias. See Crown Green Bowls.
  • Crystal Mark: refers to the official laws of the Sport of Bowls.
  • Dead Bowl: Either a Bowl which comes to rest in the Ditch or is knocked into the Ditch and is not a Toucher, or a Bowl that comes to rest outside the confines of the Rink, either in its course or by being knocked there.
  • Dead Draw: a Bowl that becomes the shot Bowl (closest to the Jack) without touching any other Bowl during its delivery.
  • Dead End / Burned End: When the Jack has been knocked out of bounds. The end is not counted and is played again. See also re-spot.
  • Dead Green: See slow green.
  • Declare the Head: an expression advising that the last player on the Mat will not deliver their last Bowl. It is called for if the player or team is holding Shot, or that there is a significant danger of changing the Head to the detriment of the player/team if the last Bowl were the change the current situation.
  • Delivery: The moment when the Bowl leaves a player’s hand to propel the Bowl from the Mat end of the Rink to the Head at the other end of the Rink.
  • Discs: in team-based competitions, players on the same team will apply a unique ring-shaped decal (transfer) to both sides of the Bowl so that they are easily distinguishable from the opposition’s Bowls. See also Rings.
  • Disturb the Head: play a Bowl with sufficient Weight to alter the position of Bowls and/or the Jack in the Head. A request of the Skip is called for usually when the team is not holding Shot or is blocked from playing a preferred shot by Bowls in the way of the objective (usually the Jack).
  • Ditch Rink: a rink that runs parallel to the Ditch along its length.
  • Ditch: The depression that surrounds the green. Its edge marks the boundary of the playing surface. Measurements of the Ditch need to conform to the laws of the game.
  • Ditch Weight: to play a Bowl with sufficient Weight to reach the Ditch at the other end of the Rink or the ditch nearest the Head in Crown Green Bowls.
  • Ditch: the area surrounding a Green, usually identifiable as a shallow trench at the edges of the green. Some ditches are a natural surround formed by mounds and trenches of soil, whilst other greens have an artificial ditch comprising wooden formwork, plinth, rubber sheets, and filled with sand or synthetic materials. Also, see Front Ditch and Back Ditch.
  • Division: in pennant games[4], associations and clubs may create tiered competition made up of separate divisions of teams. Often there are multiple sections to form part of a division. Section winners then play against other section winners in that division to determine the overall division champion.
  • Do not be short: A plea to a Bowler to use sufficient pace or weight, and with the correct green or land, to arrive exactly at its objective.
  • Down: An expression to confirm if your opponent has one or more Bowls closest to the Jack. If a Marker provides this information in a Singles game, they can also indicate this status by holding a clenched fist downwards towards the ground.
  • Down: When your team does not have the Shot Bowl, you are considered to be Down. You may be Down by one or more points.
  • Drakes Pride: the name of an English Bowls manufacturer.
  • Draw Shot: Shots where the Bowl is rolled to a specific location without causing too much disturbance of Bowls already at the Head. (See Hand).
  • Draw: a Bowl delivered to finish closest to the Jack, without the need to move or touch other Bowls in the Head.
  • Drawn End: at the conclusion of an End, if the closest Bowl of each player or team is judged to be the same distance away from the Jack, no score is recorded, but the end counts for games based on playing several Ends.
  • Drive: a Bowl delivered with the maximum force that a player can exert, the aim of which is to Kill the End, disturb the Head, or hit opposition Bowls out of the Head.
  • Dumping: a Bowl delivered from above the green to bounce on the turf when it first leaves the hand.
  • Dumping a Bowl: indicates poor technique or may show the player has an injury or disability that does not enable the Bowl to be released to the ground.
  • End: The sequence of play, beginning with the placing of the Mat and ending with the coming to rest of the last player’s Bowl, after all the players have delivered their Bowls in the same direction. Means playing of the Jack and all Bowls of opponents in the same direction on a Rink. Bowling to the Jack is called “one end.” The number of Ends played is decided by Club Rules. A typical game has 14 ends in social games or 18 in tournaments.
  • Fast Green: Usually a dry and closely cut surface offering little resistance to the progress of the Bowl. If a Bowl is delivered and finishes past the intended target, it is said to have been a “fast Bowl (a.k.a. Quick Green).
  • Fire or Drive: A shot where the Bowl is delivered at a very fast pace.
  • Fixed Stance: when preparing to deliver a Bowl, the player positions their feet and legs and then locks into this position, completing the Delivery of the Bowl with movement of the upper body only.
  • Fluke: A shot that is apparently badly executed yet is sublimely successful in what it serendipitously achieves.
  • Follow Through: This should be the natural movement forward of the delivery arm following the line or path of the Bowl.
  • Foot Fault: When the rear foot is not completely on or above the Mat at the moment of delivery. The player could incur a penalty as a result – depending on the rules of the competition and the association running the competition, players can be warned, or their Bowl can be declared a Dead Bowl.
  • Forehand Draw: When the Bowl is aimed to the right of the Jack and curves to the left (for right-handed Bowlers).
  • Forehand: When, for the right-handed player, the Bowl is delivered so that the curve of the Bowl is from right to left as it travels towards its objective.
  • Four Wood Singles: This is the traditional singles variation of the game. However, it can be played with a different number of woods, resulting in Two Wood Singles.
  • Fours: a team game consisting of four players, a Lead, Second, Third, and Skip.
  • Front Ditch: The ditch at the end of the Green which is directly in front of a player when they stand on the Mat.
  • Full Count: scoring the maximum number of possible Shots at an End where every Bowl from all players in the one team are closest to the Jack than the nearest opposition Bowl.
  • Give away the Mat: At the start of a game, a toss of a coin or Bowl is held. The winner of the toss has the option to play the first Bowl, called keeping the Mat, or letting the opposition have the first Bowl, to “give away the mat”, thus reserving the last Bowl of the end for themselves. After the first End, the End winner automatically gets the Mat and the first Bowl of the next End. Some controlling bodies have experimented with an additional rule allowing the winner of the End to decide if they keep the Mat or give the Mat away. Having the last Bowl of an end is seen as an advantage, particularly at the highest levels of competition.
  • Grass Green: refers to the type of playing surface instead of a synthetic or artificial green.
  • Grass: refers to the width of the Bowl required to enable it to stop at a designated point within the Rink. “To take more grass” means to Bowl wider than your previous Delivery.
  • Green Line: The curved line the Bowl must travel from the Mat to reach its objective.
  • Green: Either (a) alternative description to grass to describe the width of the Bowl required to enable it to stop at a designated point within the Rink. To take “more green” is to Bowl wider than your previous Delivery; or (b) the area of the playing surface containing one or more Rinks, the perimeter of which is usually defined by a surrounding Ditch.
  • Green-Keeper(s): common term for those who maintain Bowling Greens.
  • Grip: refers to how a player holds the Bowl in preparation for delivery. Two common grips are the “Claw Grip” and the “Cradle Grip”. A Bowl that is manufactured with an inverted ridge or dimple around the outer edges of the side of the Bowl is also referred to as a grip or “gripped” Bowl.
  • Hand: the direction that a Bowl is to be delivered in. See also Forehand and Backhand.
  • Handicap: In games of singles, some formats allow for a positive or negative handicap to be applied to players of different abilities. For example, in a game of 25 Up, one player may start at +5 Shots, and one at -5 shots, meaning the player with a +5 Handicap need only score another 20 Shots to win, whereas the player on -5 Handicap must score 30 Shots to win.
  • Head: Rolling Bowls toward Jack to build up a Head, which means such Bowls that have come to rest within the boundary of the Rink and have not been declared dead.
  • Heavy: means (1) a Bowl delivered with more force than required to Deliver it to a desired position on the Rink; or (2) a relative description of the physical weight of the Bowl, compared with a standard weight Bowl, or an Xtra Heavyweight Bowl; or (3) in relation to Green, a description of the relatively slow Pace of the Green, compared with a (Quick) or (Fast) Green.
  • Henselite: the name of an Australian-based Bowls manufacturer.
  • Hog Line: Special markers (often flags for tournaments) that dictate the minimum line beyond which the Jack must be rolled for the End to be valid.
  • Holding: in relation to Bowl, it indicates that your Bowl is the closest to the Jack – “we are holding shot”. In relation to Green, it’s a relative description of the Line a Bowl is taking on the Rink. A Bowl that is holding its line indicates that it is travelling a different line than normally expected due to either the condition of the Green, the pace of the Green, or the delivery action of the Bowler.
  • Holding Shot: Team with their Bowl (s) closest to Jack (see also Shot Bowl).
  • Hook: Shape to the end some Bowls take, especially older Classic Bowls with extreme Bias.
  • Indoor Bowls: means either a game of Bowls that is played in an indoor arena, with the same equipment and field dimensions as for outdoor Bowls or Carpet Bowls, a variation of Outdoor Bowls, played on a rectangular piece of carpet that is laid out on the floor and can be rolled up a stored away between games. Carpet Bowls have different types of Bowls, which are smaller than an outdoor Bowl, and the rules that govern play are unique to this particular form of the game.
  • Inner Ring: on one side of a Bowl, there are one or two small concentric circles, indicating that this is the biased side or the side towards which the Bowl will turn once delivered out of the hand. See also Outer Ring.
  • Jack High: is a comparison of the position of a Bowl in relation to the Jack. A “Jack High Bowl” means a Bowl whose front edge, which is closest to the Bowler on the Mat, is level with the front edge of the Jack.
  • Jack: (a.k.a. Kitty) is the small white ball that defined the target, or mark, for all other Bowls to be played towards. In outdoor Bowls, the Jack has no bias, but in Crown Green Bowls, the Jack has a Bias similar to the Bowl itself. The size of the Jack must conform to the rules.
  • Keep the Mat: At the start of a game, a toss of a coin or (Bowl) is held. The winner of the toss has the option to play the first Bowl, called Keeping the Mat, or letting the opposition have the first Bowl, to “give away the mat”, thus reserving the last Bowl of the end for themselves. After the first (End), the winner of the End automatically gets the Mat and the first Bowl of the next End. Some controlling bodies have experimented with an additional rule allowing the winner of the End to decide to Keep the Mat or Give the Mat away. Having the last Bowl of an end is seen as an advantage, particularly at the highest levels of competition.
  • Kill: a Bowl delivered in such a way that results in the Jack falling outside the boundary of the Rink. Once killed, an End is normally replayed, either from the same direction or from the opposite end by agreement with the opposition. Some competitions require the Jack to be spotted on a pre-arranged part of the green if the Jack falls outside the rink boundaries, with play continuing with the remaining Bowls after being spotted.
  • Kiss: a Bowl that glances either the Jack or another Bowl, resulting in a slight movement of the Jack or Bowl involved.
  • Kitty: (a.k.a. Jack) is the small white ball that defines the target, or mark, for all other Bowls to be played towards. In outdoor Bowls, the Kitty has no bias, but in Crown Green Bowls, the Kitty has a bias similar to the Bowl itself.
  • Knock-Out: in a competition game, the winner progresses to the next round, but the loser is eliminated, thus being “knocked out” of the competition.
  • Lane: All games are played within Lanes that are at least 14 ft. wide. The Lanes for a given game or tournament are designated with markers on the edges of the green. This way, multiple games can be played simultaneously on one green. Bowls that come to rest out of their lanes are Dead Bowls and are removed from the End.
  • Lawn Bowling: traditionally and historically, the game of Bowls was played on grass fields or Greens, and thus was known as Lawn Bowls. With advances in construction techniques and the introduction of artificial surfaces, in the evolution of the game, it has become known as Bowls.
  • Lead: this is the player who lays the Mat, rolls the Jack, and delivers the first Bowl in an End. They may sometimes toss a coin at the beginning of the game to determine which team has the right to start play. The Lead has specific duties, including rolling the Jack when their team is the first to Bowl on a particular End.
  • Length: refers to the amount of force required when delivering a Bowl to reach the desired target. For a Draw Bowl, the required power would result in the Bowl stopping at a point parallel to the Jack. See also Line.
  • Lifter: a piece of equipment, usually made of metal, which enables a player to pick up a Bowl from the Green without the need to bend down. Often used by players with an injury or disability which prevents them from bending to reach the ground.
  • Lignum Vitae: a type of natural hardwood material from a tree used to make a Bowl. Before the introduction of composite plastic materials, it was the predominant material for the manufacture of Bowls.
  • Line: this is the directional arc the Bowl travels along from the point of Delivery to the point it stops. For a Draw Bowl, the player will identify an aiming point when letting go of the Bowl, such that it will travel along a pathway to end up as close as possible to his target, usually the Jack. The line of the Bowl will vary depending on the prevailing conditions of the Green (Heavy, Fast), the Bias of the Bowl, and the desired finishing position.
  • Live Bowl: this is any Bowl that comes to rest within the confines of the Rink and is acceptable under the conditions laid down by the laws of the game or any Toucher in the ditch. If a Bowl finishes in the Ditch or outside the Rink boundary, it is considered a Dead Bowl, except when the Bowl has touched the Jack, in which it remains a live Bowl even if it is in the ditch, as long as it is within the boundary of the Rink.
  • Long Jack: A Jack that is the greatest distance allowed from the front edge of the Mat, or is close to this limit.
  • Mark it or Chalk it: is to mark a Toucher with chalk.
  • Mark: is the target or object at which Bowls are aimed. In Bowls, the mark is the Jack (a.k.a. Kitty).
  • Marker: a non-playing person who undertakes to see that a game of singles is played according to the rules. He marks all touchers, centres the Jack, measures, and keeps the score. During the playing of an End, it could be wiser for the marker not to talk to the players unless asked a direct question. A Marker will assist the players by aligning the Jack on the centre line after it has been rolled, answer questions posed by the players about the state of play, Chalk Bowls that become Touchers and keep the scorecard and scoreboard up to date during a game.
  • Mat: The Mat from which a Bowler must make his delivery (the size is laid down in the rules). It is a rectangular piece of material, which designates the point from which Bowls must be delivered for a particular End.
  • Matching Bowl: a Bowl that sits next to or near an opposition Bowl in the Head.
  • Maximum Length: the maximum distance possible between the Mat and the end of the Rink, designated by a spot or mark, usually the 2-metre mark.
  • Measure: A device used to determine which Bowl is nearest the Jack. The device is an instrument, a small pocket-sized hand-held tape measure used to judge the distance between the Jack and one or more Bowls at the conclusion of an End, to determine the number of shots held by a player or team. If the number of Shots held by a team or player cannot be determined by agreement, the designated Measurer will use a Measure to determine the result, known as “Call for a measure”.
  • Measuring: the process of determining which Bowl is nearest the Jack.
  • Minimum Length: the minimum distance allowed between the Mat and the Jack. In the Crystal Mark edition of rules, the minimum length of an end is 23 metres. Some domestic regulations can vary this minimum length. For example, in Australia, the minimum length is 21 metres. Most Greens have a mark on the Plinth of the Ditch to indicate the minimum length point from the 2-metre mark.
  • Mirror: a custom-designed instrument used by Umpires to determine if a Jack or Bowl is within the Boundary of the Rink during play. Often used in conjunction with a Scope when making judgements from one end of the Rink to the other.
  • Narrow Shot: means where a player has not allowed enough green or land, although this shot can sometimes be played intentionally.
  • Narrow: means (1) in relation to Bias a Narrow Bias describes the relatively narrow Line a Bowl’s arc takes from the point of Delivery to the point at which it stops. Modern manufactured Bowls are known as “Narrow Bias” Bowls as they are designed to take a narrower line, compared to some older brands of Bowls manufactured decades ago. Bowls must comply with Minimum Bias standards determined by World Bowls but vary to suit different styles of play and different playing conditions throughout the world. It means (2) in relation to Bowl, if a Bowl is delivered and finishes to the inner side of the intended target, it is said to have been a “Narrow Bowl”.
  • No Score: if at the completion of the End, a Measure for the Shot determines that both teams (or players) have one Bowl of equal distance from the Jack (or both have a Bowl touching the Jack), no score is recorded. For games that are based on a number of ends, the end still counts in the total number of Ends to be played.
  • North-South: describes the direction of play for the rinks, which run in parallel with each other on any given day. Most Bowls rinks are built to accommodate play alternately in a north-south or east-west direction. Greenkeepers and Greens Directors will alter the direction of play to assist in managing the quality of the greens over a season. Most competitions play north-south, to avoid players looking directly into the sun. East-west play is often used for social games. This does not apply to the Crown Green game of Bowls, which utilises the entire green surface and is not divided into rinks.
  • On the Dot: refers to a position on the Green designated as the furthermost distance on the Rink where a Jack is placed. If a Lead rolls the Jack and it travels past this predetermined Mark, the Jack will be placed “on the dot” before the first Bowl is delivered. In some jurisdictions, this is known as the 2-Metre Mark.
  • Open Hand: refers to the side of the Rink that has the clearest path for a draw shot. See also Forehand and Backhand.
  • Open it Up: this is an instruction for a Bowl to be delivered with enough pace to clear any obstruction in the way of Bowls that are between the player and the Jack.
  • Opening Day: when a club holds its first event for the year or season. Often a club will hold a formal ceremony on this day, with the club champion and a local community representative, such as the mayor, councillor, or politician, invited to officially open the Greens.
  • Outdoor Bowls: refers to the variation of Bowls, which is governed by World Bowls and the Crystal Mark rules. Whilst using the term “outdoor”, there are many venues where this variation of Bowls is played in greens constructed within a covered building. See also Indoor Bowls and Carpet Bowls.
  • Outer Ring: on one side of a Bowl, there are one or two large concentric circles, indicating that this is the non-Biased side, or the side away from which the Bowl will turn once delivered out of the hand. See also Inner Ring.
  • Pace of the Green: See Fast Green and Slow Green.
  • Pace or Weight: The amount of force with which the Bowl is delivered to execute a particular shot.
  • Pace: See speed.
  • Pairs: Bowls games in which each team has two players (a Skip and a Lead) for a period of twenty-one ends.
  • Peg: See Boundary Peg.
  • Penalty: This may be awarded by the umpire when, for example, a player has been foot faulted in delivering his Bowl. The Umpire could also declare the Bowl to be dead.
  • Pennant: a team-based competition run at a county or state based level.
  • Plant Shot: When a player bowls his Bowl to strike other Bowls that could be in line to gain his objective.
  • Plinth: the vertical trim in a Ditch, usually constructed of wood or concrete, and often has a covering of carpet or rubber to dampen the impact of Bowls when they travel off the Green into the Ditch.
  • Points: Whoever gets their Bowl (s) closest to Jack at the conclusion of an End.
  • Polish: a type of thick liquid compound applied to the surface of a Bowl, which is then rubbed into the surface using a hand, cloth or polishing sleeve. The application of Polish is designed to clean the surface of the Bowl, provide a resistant surface to assist its travel more easily when a Bowl is Delivered, and provide additional grip between the Bowl and the hand.
  • Possession: the player or team whose turn it is to deliver a Bowl is said to be “in possession of the Mat”. Possession passes to the opposition when the Bowl has come to rest after a Delivery. Possession also includes the possession of the Head, and opposition players should remain away from the Head when not in possession of the Mat.
  • Potato Bowl: A badly thrown (or released) Bowl that hops, skips and jumps.
  • Practice End: (a.k.a. Roll Up) a warm up end, without scoring, to enable players to test their Bowls in the conditions before a game starts.
  • Promote this Bowl: An instruction to a Bowler to play his Bowl onto a Bowl belonging to his side, so that the stationary Bowl is moved closer to the objective.
  • Promoting a Bowl: Pushing up one of your team’s Bowls to a better position.
  • Proportional: (a.k.a. 100 Up), where the score of Bowl is proportional to the number of Bowls you have closest to the Jack, typically in a game where each player in a singles game has four Bowls, the closest is worth 4 points, the next closest 3 points and so on.
  • Push and Rest: The Bowling of a Bowl with sufficient pace or weight to push a Bowl from its position so that the position is taken by the last Bowl delivered.
  • Put it in your Pocket: an expression advising the last player on the Mat to not deliver his Bowl. It is called for if the player or team is holding Shot, or that there is significant danger of changing the Head to the detriment of the player/team if the Bowl were the change the current situation.
  • Quick Bowl: if a Bowl is delivered and finishes past the intended target, it is said to have been a “Quick Bowl”.
  • Quick Green: (a.k.a. Fast Green) a green is described as quick when the Bowls travel faster further over the surface than a Slow Green relative to the same amount of effort required when delivering a Bowl.
  • Raking: delivering an overweight Bowl with the intent of Disturbing the Head. Often used as a derogatory term for players who are considered to have limited skills with imprecise Bowling techniques, therefore often employing an overweight Bowl with the hope of claiming the shot.
  • Re-Spot: if during play, the Jack is out of bounds, some competitions have provision for placing the Jack back within the confines of the Rink on a predetermined place. The End then continues from that point with all other live Bowls delivered remaining in place.
  • Rest this Bowl: An instruction to a player to bring his Bowl to rest against another Bowl.
  • Resting Toucher: a Bowl that remains in direct physical contact with the Jack after being delivered.
  • Riding: following a Bowl after delivery down the green, often with visible expressions of hope, intent, or exasperation. It is considered poor etiquette to “ride” an opposition players Bowl. See also Chasing.
  • Rink (Playing Area): the portion of the green in play for a particular game, usually marked with boundary pegs at either end of the green.
  • Rink (Team): in team-based competitions, a group of players on the same team playing together as a unit can be described as “a rink”.
  • Rink of Players or Fours: a group of four players against four, each Bowling two Bowls for a period of twenty-one ends. Their positions in order of play: Lead, Second, Third and Skip.
  • Rink: The rectangular playing surface area of the Green on which play takes place. Often 15 feet wide from one end to the opposite end. Each Rink is defined by markers on the edge to clearly define the lane.
  • Rinks Bowls: A Bowling game with four players per team a Skip, a Vice, 2nd Lead and a Lead. Typically players only use 2 Bowls each.
  • Roll Up: (a.k.a. Practice End) a warm up end, without scoring, to enable players to test their Bowls in the conditions before a game starts.
  • Rolling the Jack: at the start of an End, the player in Possession of the Mat first rolls the Jack along the Rink or Green to a preferred Length before delivering a Bowl.
  • Rub off: A Bowl that, during its running course, comes into light contact with another, which can affect the line of direction.
  • Scope: a custom-designed instrument, based on a telescope, used by umpires to determine if a Jack or Bowl is within the boundary (see Boundary Peg) of the Rink during play. Often used in conjunction with a Mirror when making judgements from one end of the Rink to the other.
  • Scorer: in a match between teams or sides, this is the person responsible for keeping the current scores on the master scoreboard.
  • Second Bowl: the Bowl that finishes closest to the Jack, other than the Shot Bowl.
  • Second or Number Two: The player who plays after the lead in a game of fours or triples. He marks the scorecard and keeps the scoreboard up to date.
  • Second: in a team of three or more, the player who delivers his Bowl immediately after the Lead is known as the Second. The Second has specific duties, including keeping score, updating the Rink and overall scoreboards in a multi-rink team competition. In recent years, some associations have directed that the Skip must keep the scorecard.
  • Section: in pennant games, associations may create tiered competition made up of separate sections of teams. Often there are multiple sections to form part of a broader Division. Section winners then play against other section winners in that division to determine the overall division champion.
  • Sectional Play: a number of games where you play all other teams or players in a grouping, and the winner goes on to play other sectional winners. Group sizes will be variable, designed to ensure that the number of winners enable a play-off to reach a final of two section winners.
  • Sets Play: a game made up of two or more sets, with each set made up of a number of ends. World Bowls sets play format is two sets of nine Ends, with a 3 End tie break if drawn at one set all, but this can be varied by a local controlling body.
  • Shaved: describes the result of a Bowl delivered such that it touches the Jack or another Bowl without changing its current position.
  • Short Bowl: A Bowl that has not been delivered with sufficient pace to reach its objective – stopping short of its intended target.
  • Short End: describes a relative assessment of the length of the end in comparison with the maximum length end possible
  • Short Jack: a Jack that is at the shortest distance allowed from the front edge of the Mat or close to this limit stopping at a point less than the minimum length allowed within the rules of competition for the current game. Minimum lengths are varied by national associations as outlined in the crystal mark edition of the regulations or World Bowls.
  • Short Side: a group of players that make up a team. In Pennant Play, a side will be made up of 12 to 16 players, divided up into groups of four, also known as a Rink.
  • Shot Bowl (or Shot): The Bowl closest to the Jack.
  • Shoulder of the Green: the point on the green where the Bowl begins to curve inwards towards its objective.
  • Side or Team: An agreed number of players whose combined scores determine the result of a match.
  • Singles: One player against one player, each using four Bowls.
  • Singles: a game played between two players.
  • Skip: in a team of three or more, the player who delivers his Bowl last is called the Skip. The Skip has specific duties, including directing the Head or all other players in the team, making decisions in co-operation with the opposition Skip in the event of a dispute, and calling for an Umpire if a dispute cannot be resolved within the teams.
  • Skipper: this is the team captain or Skip who always plays last. This person is usually the most experienced player, who also guides the strategy.
  • Slow Green: a Green is described as slow when the Bowls travel at a slower pace over the surface compared to a Quick green relative to the amount of effort required when delivering a Bowl.
  • Slow or Heavy Green: Where the surface offers some greater resistance to the progress of the Bowl.
  • Smalls: a call made when determining which player will deliver the first Bowl at the start of a game. One player will roll a Bowl End over End, and calling “Smalls” refers to the Bowl stopping with the side where the smaller rings are facing upward. See also Biggs.
  • Speed: a measurement, in seconds, of the time it takes for a Bowl to come to a rest after being delivered by a player. See also Timing the Green.
  • Spider: a one Bowl competition where all participants are positioned at the edges of the Green, and upon an agreed signal, all deliver a Bowl towards a Jack positioned in the centre of the Green.
  • Split these Bowls: An instruction to the Bowler to Bowl a Bowl of sufficient pace that it forces apart other Bowls and has enough momentum to carry on beyond that point.
  • Spot the Jack: when the Jack is rolled in a Rink based game of Bowls, if the Bowl comes to rest beyond the 2-metre mark, but within the Boundary of the Rink, then it is moved to that mark, such that the front of the Jack is aligned with the back of the Mark.
  • Spray Chalk: used to indicate a Bowl that has Touched the Jack as part of its initial delivery during an End. A player in charge of the Head will use a pressurised can of chalk spray to place a mark, which must be done before the next Bowl comes to a rest and must be removed before the Bowl is delivered on the next end. See also Chalk.
  • Stance: The position adopted by the Bowler on the Mat before Delivery. Some players adopt a fixed stance, where legs and feet are moved into place and then “locked”, and the delivery is completed using upper body movement, whereas others will position their feet, then an action involving upper and lower body elements is commenced.
  • String: normally a green ‘string’ drawn tightly along the green to define the boundaries of the Rink.
  • Synthetic: see Artificial.
  • Table Bowls: a game designed to be played on a billiard/pool table, with miniaturised Bowls, Jack, and delivery ramp.
  • Take it Out: An instruction to a Bowler to Bowl with sufficient pace to push an opponent’s Bowl away from its present position.
  • Taking Green or Land: On Forehand or Backhand, the Bowler Bowls to the Shoulder of the Green so that his Bowl will curve and come to rest as near as possible to the point he desires.
  • Taking reen: See Line. If the resting place of a Bowl is too wide, or particularly too narrow, to that intended, the director of the Head may ask to “make sure you take your green”, meaning adjust your line compared to your last Bowl.
  • Tape: a custom-designed tape measure used to judge the distance between the Jack and one or more Bowls at the conclusion of an End, which will determine the number of Shots held by a player or team. A tape is used when a player’s Measure is not long enough to reach the Bowls in question. A longer tape is also used to measure if the Jack has been delivered past the minimum length required.
  • Taylors: the name of a Scottish Bowls manufacturer.
  • Testing table: a table used to check that a Bowl or set of Bowls conform to the Bias requirements of the governing body of the sport, World Bowls. Manufacturers of Bowls have Testing Tables used both in the manufacturing process and as a testing service to Bowlers. Some associations mandate that Bowls must be re-tested at a predetermined interval of years. In associations where testing is mandated, Bowls that do not have a stamp indicating their status can be banned from use in competitions within that association.
  • The Hammer: The final Bowl of the End. Newer rules allow the winning team on an End to give away the Mat and retain control of the Hammer.
  • Third: A position in a game of fours in which the player who delivers his Bowl after the Lead and Second have delivered their Bowls is known as the Third. The Third has specific duties, including directing the Head when it is the turn of the Skip to deliver his Bowls.
  • Tickle the Kitty: describes the result of a Bowl delivered such that it moves the Jack a slight distance from its current position.
  • Tie Break: at the end of a games’ scheduled number of Ends, if the scores are level, a tie break end(s) will be played to determine a winner. In games with a set number of Ends, one extra end is normally played. In sets play, a tie break, normally of three ends, is played if each player or side has won the same number of sets after the designated number of sets have been played. An individual set does not have a tie break if the result is drawn at the end of that set.
  • Tie (or Tied End): when the two closest Bowls are both exactly the same distance from the Jack and belong to opposing teams, even after measurement, the End is treated as completed End and declared a tie and is entered on the scorecard as such.
  • Tiff: a type of grass (also known as Titdwarf, a Bermuda grass hybrid) used to construct Lawn Bowls Greens. Known for its turf quality, and ability to be mowed very low, well known in warmer climates, but increasingly hybrid varieties are being used in cool climate areas.
  • Timing Ramp: a custom designed piece of equipment that calculated the Speed of the Green. The ramp uses a ball, which is delivered down the ramp in several locations on the green, and a calculation table is then used to convert the results into a time, in seconds. The timing ramp tries to overcome the variances in manually timing a green using a stop-watch and delivery of a Bowl by hand. See also Timing the Green.
  • Timing the Green: in some competitions, an umpire will indicate the Green’s speed by performing a test “timing of the green”. It is determined either with a stop-watch, recording the result of the times of several Bowls from the point of Delivery to the point of coming to rest, or using a timing ramp. The result will be a time, in seconds, usually to 2 decimal places.
  • Toss: a call made when determining which player or team will deliver the first Bowl at the start of a game. One player will toss a coin End over End, and calling heads or tails refers to the coin stopping with the head or tail of the coin facing upward.
  • Toucher: a Bowl which, during its course, has touched the Jack.
  • Toucher in the Ditch: a toucher (see below) is a Bowls that has fallen into the ditch. This is a ‘live’ Bowl unless it has come to rest outside the confines of the Rink.
  • Toucher on the Green: A Bowl which, during its course, has touched the Jack, or a Bowl which has come to rest and falls over to touch the Jack before the next Bowl is delivered, or a Bowl that is the last to be delivered and falls and touches the Jack within the period of half a minute. All the above will be marked with a chalk mark.
  • Touchers: Bowls that hit the Jack. These Bowls are marked with chalk and remain “alive” even if they are in the ditch.
  • Trail the Jack: To play a Bowl to move the Jack to another position on the Rink.
  • Trail: playing a Bowl to move the Jack from its current position to further sideways or backwards along the Rink.
  • Trial End: (a.k.a. Roll Up) a warm-up end, without scoring, to enable players to test their Bowls in the conditions before a game starts.
  • Trial Ends: Formal practice ends, usually only allowed at the start of a tournament, in which each team rolls 2 Bowls down and back to get a feel of the green. Such ends do not count in the scoring.
  • Triples: Three players against three, each using three Bowls for a playing period of 18 Ends. Their positions in order of play: Lead, Second and Skip.
  • Triples: A game in which each team has three players on their team – a Skip, a Vice and a Lead. Typically each player then only uses 3 Bowls each.
  • Umpire: An official nominated by the competition organiser to provide adjudication of the rules of competition, and to interpret the rules of Bowls in the event of a dispute. Once an umpire is called, the decision of the Umpire is final and binding on all players involved in the dispute.
  • Unbiased: refers to a Bowl or Jack that has no Bias. In most forms of the sport, the Jack does not have a Bias, and some indoor versions of the sport also have Bowls with no Bias. Crown Green Bowls have both a biased Jack and Bowl.
  • Up: an expression to confirm if you or your team have one or more Bowls closest to the Jack. If a Marker is providing this information in a Singles game, the Marker can also indicate this status by holding a clenched fist walkover: where a player or team is unable to contest a pre-arranged game, either through non-arrival, late arrival, or not having sufficient players to constitute a team, a win is awarded to the opposition. Rules governing walkovers are usually defined by the competition and vary across county, state, national, and international competitions.
  • Using the Mat: The movement of the Mat (within the limits of the rules) for the purposes of lengthening or shortening the length of the Jack.
  • Vice: The person who plays after the Lead and is responsible for deciding the winner of a Head and recording the results.
  • Wedge: see Chock.
  • Weight (1): Means in relation to a Bowl, the physical weight of the Bowl. See also Heavy; Xtra Heavy
  • Weight (2): Means in relation to Delivery, the relative effort required to ensure a Bowl, when delivered, reaches its intended target.
  • Weight (3): The amount of speed applied in delivering the Bowl from the Mat to the Jack. “Heavy” weight means that the Bowl stops beyond the Jack, while “Light” means that it stops short of the spot desired.
  • Wick Off: a Bowl that is travelling at a certain pace which comes into an angled contact with another Bowl, thus causing the course of the moving Bowl to be definitely altered.
  • Wick: when a Bowl is deflected during its progress after delivery. In most cases, this will be from contacting a Bowl or Jack. After the “wick”, the direction of the Bowl is altered away from its regular arc implied by the Bias. The term is derived from curling.
  • Wide (1): Means in relation to Bowl, if a Bowl is delivered and finishes to the outer side of the intended target, it is said to have been a “Wide Bowl” (also called taking too much “Grass”).
  • Wide (2): Means in relation to Hand, a comparative assessment between the two sides of a Bowl rink, either side of the Bowl centre line. If due to prevailing weather or Green conditions (usually wind), a Bowler must aim his Bowl further away from the target (Jack, Bowl or other position on the green), on a particular side of the Rink, it is known as the “Wide Hand.”
  • Wood: an alternative name for a Bowl. Derived from the fact that Bowls were once made using a dense hardwood, lignum vitae.
  • Wouldn’t Crack an Egg: A Bowl delivered with insufficient pace to achieve its End.
  • Wrecked: an attempted shot, frustrated by contact with another Bowl between the Mat and the Jack.
  • Wrest this Bowl Out: An instruction to Bowl a Wood with sufficient velocity to push another Bowl.
  • Wrong Bias: a Bowl delivered where the biased side of the Bowl has been placed opposite to the desired position for a given delivery. If a right-handed player plays a forehand delivery, but has the biased side of the Bowl on the right, the Bowls bias will take an arc away from the intended target, and in most cases, outside the rink boundary. As well as becoming a dead Bowl, the person delivering the Bowl is sometimes subjected to gentle “ridicule”. Clubs may also have a “house rule” with a penalty for a witnessed “wrong bias” – such as a fine into a charity jar, or buying a drink for your opponents.
  • Yard On: a shot delivered with an extra degree of speed to displace or disturb other Bowls in the Head with the intent of killing the End.

(Probably) the Greatest Bowls Player of all time
Few sporting world champions have won their medals while smoking a pipe, but David Bryant, who died aged 88, did just that, as the Guardian in August 2020.[5] In 1986, he was honoured with the award for Pipe Smoker of the Year[6].

David John Bryant CBE (1931–2020) was a three-time World (outdoors) singles bowls champion (in 1966, 1980 and 1988), a three-times World indoors singles champion (in 1979, 1980 and 1981) and a four-time Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist. He clearly picked up some valuable tips from his father – Reginald Bryant – who won three National Fours/Rinks titles himself.

David Bryant wrote many insightful books on Bowls, such as:

In 1969, David Bryant was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to bowls, and in 1980 he was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), again for services to bowls.

Down under in Australia, many dubbed Bryant the ‘Bradman of Bowls’. He is generally considered the greatest bowls player of all time, winning 19 World and Commonwealth gold medals in total.

Sources and Further Reading

A picture containing outdoor, building, sculpture, old

Description automatically generated
Sir Francis Drake whilst playing Bowls on Plymouth Hoe is informed of the approaching Spanish Armada. One of 4 bronze relief plaques on the base of the Drake statue in Tavistock, Devon. By Joseph Boehm (d.1890), donated by Hastings Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford (d.1891)
Attribution: (Author)Lobsterthermidor at en.Wikipedia, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.
File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/DrakeMonumentTavistock.jpg

  1. Source: Mostly from: https://teara.govt.nz/en/Bowls-petanque-and-tenpin/page-1 Page Citation: Lindsay Knight, ‘Bowls, pétanque and tenpin – Lawn Bowls: game, history and organisation’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/Bowls-petanque-and-tenpin/page-1 (accessed 3 March 2022)

  2. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_at_the_Summer_Olympics
  3. Sources: https://www.Bowls.co.uk/glossary, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_Bowls_terms, and https://hoveBowls.co.uk/glossary-of-Bowling-terms/
  4. See: https://www.bowls.co.uk/flat-green
  5. Source: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/aug/30/david-bryant-obituary
  6. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_Smoker_of_the_Year

 


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