HomeSportsLawn BowlsA Complete Guide of Lawn Bowls | How to play | History...
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A Complete Guide of Lawn Bowls | How to play | History | Rules

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“Lawn bowls” is a sport that is played in singles, pairs, triples, and fours competitions. To win a game of lawn bowling, you must have a clear head and pay close attention. Although the game appears simple from the outside, it takes years of preparation for players to become champions. Recently, the Indian women’s lawn bowls team in Commonwealth Games 2022, created history after winning gold in this sport for the first time.

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Lawn bowling balls are biased, which means they are asymmetrical in shape. The game is incredibly difficult as the ball has an uneven side and goes on a curving path. Placing the ball as close to the jack, as possible, is the main goal in the game. In this blog, we will provide information about lawn bowls, it’s origin & history, how to play, scoring methods, rules, etc.

History of Lawn Bowls

The sport of lawn bowling has a lengthy history. This game is thought to have been played in Europe in the twelfth century. Since there were often battles with the neighboring nations in those days, it worked as a stress reliever. 

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Lawn bowling comes in a variety of forms, but short mat bowling is what first gained widespread popularity. Because of its adaptability, short mat bowls can indeed be played at hotels, colleges and universities, social clubs, and even on village hills. Due to the limited space, short mat bowls are well-known there. Additionally, it has been observed that this sport is practiced on cramped oil rigs in the North Sea.

As Lawn Bowling gained popularity, it was finally outlawed by the King and the Parliament out of concern that it might interfere with the training of archery and other war-related sports. Because England was always at war with other nations during the period, archery was seen as an important sport. But soon, this sport’s taboo was overturned, and people from all walks of life began to participate in different sports.

The first organization established in Australia was the Victorian Bowling Association, which was founded in 1880. Nowadays, in lawn bowling matches, competitors feature from more than 50 nations.

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Balls or Bowls

Image Source- New Indian Express

Each set in a game of lawn bowling contains four balls. In addition to being singular, each set includes a distinctive emblem carved in the central circle on both sides. Four balls are used in the game of lawn bowling. It can be referred to as either balls or bowls.

The bowls used in lawn bowling are not precisely round and are biased. As a result, when a player rolls the bowl, it glides along a curved path. It implies that when we roll the ball, it curls. Thus, to hit the target, the player is forced to roll his bowl at an angle and in an outward direction. 

Similar to alley bowling, in lawn bowling players or bowlers roll the ball more towards a target or goal. A little, white ball known as the “jack” that is similar in size to a billiard ball serves as the target in lawn bowling. The person who can place his ball as close to the jack wins the points. Rolling the bowl and getting as near to the jack as you can is the game’s main objective.

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The Jack

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Image Source- Wikipedia

The jack is the target or a tiny white ball about the size of a pool ball. The jack is rolled out into the playing field before the match begins and is used as the game’s target.

Each participant will then roll the ball onto the field, attempting to place it as near to the jack as they can. The jack is neutral, but the lawn bowls are biased. In contrast to bowling balls, which move in a zigzag pattern, the jack moves in a straight line because it is unbiased. 

The jack becomes the players’ objective when it stops. While the ball is rolling, each player is free to use their bowl to strike the jack or move it. The play is therefore focused on this tiny white ball.

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Measurement Tape

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There may be times when more than one ball is positioned close to the jack due to the large number of players that will roll the ball during the competition.

It won’t be feasible to identify which is nearest at certain times with the naked eye. The measuring tape is currently a key piece of equipment in determining the winner.

The Scoring Sheets

In North America and Europe, this is a fairly well-known club game, hence each club has its system for showing the score cards.

Typically, pre-printed cards are used to keep track of game scores. The score cards are held in place in several clubs’ stands by chips. Chips are kept in a red container, and a player chooses and plays accordingly.

Basics of the Sport

Rolling a slanted ball and attempting to place it as close to the target as you can is the main goal of lawn bowling. A tiny white ball that resembles a pool ball serves as the target in this scenario. The jack or kitten is the name of this ball.

The jack is set up as a target for the game before the match even begins. Each participant will roll the ball into the field and attempt to position it as near to the jack as they can.

Though lawn bowling is mostly an outdoor sport, several locations have inside facilities where it is played. Either real grass or synthetic turf will be used as the outdoor surface for the ball roll. 

The bowl follows a curved route when a player rolls it. The game becomes extremely important because the player’s assumptions and rolling technique will determine how well they score. This challenges the player to roll their bowl in an outward direction at an angle to reach the target.

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A straight line will be made on the field by the player who rolls the jack to start the game. The jack moves in a straight line because it is unbiased, in contrast to the bowling ball. When the jack stops, the players start to aim for it. Along with being able to move the jack while rolling the ball, players are also permitted to hit it with their bowls.

The play is therefore focused on this tiny white ball. The competitors aim to roll their bowls toward the target. Additionally, players are given points based on where they finish. The distance between the ball and the jack is measured with a measuring tape. When the ball strikes the jack, it may be removed from its original position.

Asymmetry in the Lawn Bowls

The bias of the balls used in lawn bowling was previously addressed. As a result, it travels in a curved course. Manufacturers first used to embed weights into one side of the balls to bias the rolling balls. But throughout time, this regulation has evolved, and now the biasing of the bowl is determined by the shape of the ball rather than placing weight on one side.

Initially, one could know which side the biasing was done by simply looking at the ball, but now, players must either dimple it in their hand or look at the symbol on one side to determine the biased direction of the bowl. In the past, lignum vitae was used to make the lawn bowls, but it was expensive. All of these balls are now manufactured of a strong plastic composite, which makes them affordable and incredibly durable. Originally only available in black or brown, these balls are now sold in a variety of colors.

The teams use stickers to distinguish between the balls because there may be three, four, or more teams. The ball has a circular mark to show the bowl’s bias, and the side with a larger sign inside the circle denotes an impartial side.

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Lawn Bowls- Types of Delivery

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  • Draw is a form of delivery where the ball is rolled to a precise spot or position while attempting to prevent any disturbance to the balls that are already inside the head.
  • Right-handed bowlers typically execute the forehand draw. This delivery, known as a finger peg delivery, is originally targeted to the jack’s right and curved to the left as it rolls. This shot is used frequently in the game and is highly difficult.
  • The backhand draw is the exact opposite of the forehand draw in terms of delivery. Left-handers frequently perform it and the thumb peg delivery is its alternative name. The same bowler also has the option of using their right hand. Here, after being rolled, the ball is curled to the right while aiming to the left of the jack.

This ball is rolled to get as close to the jack as possible, whether it is a forehand or backhand draw. People who are physically challenged and blind can both play lawn bowls. Despite being physically impaired or blind, they have demonstrated themselves as more skilled players than average.

Variants of Lawn Bowling

Short Mat Bowling

Lawn bowling, which is played continuously throughout the year, includes the sport of short mat bowling. Short mat bowls do not require a fixed location and are not impacted by the weather because the mats may be rolled up and moved to any other location. Therefore, this type of structure attracts the interest of tiny communities.

Due to their adaptability, these short mat bowls can be played at hotels, colleges, social clubs, and even on rural hills. Due to the lack of space and the suitability of this sport for such settings, short mat bowls are well known in these locations.

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Tra Bowls

Tra is short for “hollow road.” The rolling route is curved in the game of tra bowling. One of the most played lawn bowling games in all of Scandinavia, this game is very well known in Belgium and the Netherlands. Other forms of lawn bowling often take place on flat and slick surfaces, but Tra bowl’s track is unique, allowing for significant ball curvature. In Tra bowling, larger bowls are utilized than in regular bowling. The ball differs from a standard bowling ball in terms of its length, thickness, and weight.

Tra Bowling uses a somewhat different scoring system than standard lawn bowling. Pure blocking tactics are less effective in this situation because points are only rewarded for shots that bring the ball closer to the target than any other player’s ball.

How to Play Lawn Bowls?

The balls move in a curved direction and are asymmetrical in form. To position the ball as close to the jack as you can is the game’s main goal. While rolling the ball on the ground, players employ a variety of strategies. The player must grip the ball firmly in his hands before throwing it. He must touch the bowl to determine which side is slanted. To grasp the ball, the player must place his middle finger along its edge.

The line that directly connects the bias’s face and the sides that have been shaved off is known as the edge or the running edge. A player can toss the bowl in the ideal direction if the player holds it precisely. The athlete must stand in the ideal position as they prepare to roll the bowl. The bowler must aim to the line on which he will roll the bowl while maintaining square shoulders.

Making the Ball Roll

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Image Source- Republic World

The athlete should move somewhat closer to the throw line before rolling the bowl. To roll the ball on the grass smoothly, he must bend his legs and can rest his free arm against the leg for support. Although Lawn Bowling may appear to be a simple game, it involves using every part of your body. The player can attain his full potential by carefully following the procedures, and with the greatest stability and ease, he can score. But it’s not the end yet. The bowl must be held steady on each side by the player using his index finger and thumb.

The players used to practice a lot on the field before the game. This is a very helpful tactic since it allows a player to become very familiar with the field by practicing on it repeatedly. The bowling ball will go very quickly if the grass is short on the ground and quickly if the ground is damp. The player must determine the jack’s or the target’s distance from his location before attempting to bowl the ball in that direction. Forehand bowling and backhand bowling are the two different ways to throw the ball.

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A front-hand delivery

The right-handed bowler typically throws a forehand draw. This delivery, known as a “finger peg delivery,” is initially directed to the jack’s right before curving to the left as it rolls. This shot is used frequently in the game and is highly difficult.

Delivery by backhand

Simply said, the forehand delivery is the reverse of this style of delivery. Those that use their left hands do so. It is another name for delivery using a thumb peg. The same bowler also has the option of using their right hand. The ball is rolled here and then curled to the right, aiming to the left of the jack.

Scoring Method in Lawn Bowls

The Lawn Bowling scoring system changes from tournament to tournament. If it’s a singles game, the players have a set goal for how many shots they need to make, which is typically 21 or 25. After a certain number of ends, a team’s score increases.

In lawn bowl games, the games may be drawn to a predetermined number of ends. If a draw has occurred then the opponents may be obliged to play an additional shot to determine the winner. In a singles game of lawn bowling, the winner is the first person to accumulate 21 strikes.

The team that has scored the most shots after 21/25 ends of play is deemed the winner in pairs, doubles, or triples. In some events, the first to seven points in a best-of-five or best-of-three set match win. This is known as a set scoring system.

A team in the singles competition could have two, three, or even four players. In this scenario, teams bowl in succession. The team’s skipper is referred to as the skip and always playing last is the captain of the team.

Sets are the current format for professional tournament scoring. Each set consists of nine ends, with the set being won by the competitor or bowler who has taken the most shots.

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Rules in Lawn Bowls

  • You can play lawn bowling on real grass or synthetic turf. However, it is typically played on a sizable, neatly leveled, beautifully maintained, and rectangular pitch known as a bowling green.
  • Rinks are likewise broken up into this rectangular field (also known as parallel playing strips). In a typical match, one of the two competitors would flip a coin to determine who would take home the mat.
  • The toss winner receives the mat, and to establish the target, he rolls the jack to the opposite end of the mat. The jack will eventually come to rest from friction and align itself with the center of the ice. The participants take their balls and roll them according to their turns once everything is ready.
  • To increase the head, the players roll the ball towards the direction of the jack.
  • A ball typically travels in a curved path outside the rink, but to stay in play, it must land inside the rink’s perimeter.
  • A ball that lands in a ditch is considered dead and is taken out of play. However, the ball won’t be considered a dead ball if it contacts the jack and then drops into a ditch afterward.
  • The touchers are the balls that make contact with the jack; they are identified by a white chalk mark. Even if it lands in a ditch, this ball is still in play.
  • Similar to this, if a player kicks the kitty or the jack into the ditch, they are still considered to be alive. The jack will once again be positioned in the rink’s middle by international regulations.

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  • The space between the jack and the balls is measured once every player has rolled down all of their balls. The bowler receives a point in this phase depending on how close the ball is to the jack.
  • Whether playing solo or doubles, each bowler must throw four balls. In a triples match, every player will throw three balls, and in a fours match, two balls.
  • Following the game, the distance between the balls and the jack is calculated, and the player whose ball is closest to the jack receives points (or shots in lawn bowling).

Lawn Bowls Championships

Every year, numerous competitions and tournaments are held for lawn bowling in various regions of the world. The following is a list of some of the most well-known titles.

Popular Lawn Bowls Players in India

  • Rupa Rani Tirkey
  • Tania Choudhury
  • Dinesh Kumar
  • Pinky Singh
  • Sunul Bahadur

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How long is a game of lawn bowls?

A game of bowls lasts between 1 and a half hours and 3 hours. The duration of a game of bowls varies depending on the format. Singles are on the shorter time frame and Fours take much longer.

What are the rules in Lawn bowls?

Some of the rules in Lawn bowls are:
>Players must keep one foot on the mat when bowling.
>The jack must travel a minimum of 23 metres without going over the rink boundaries.
>Bowls that land in the ditch are considered out of the game, unless they touch the jack before coming to a stop.

Is lawn ball olympic sport?

Lawn bowls as a sport is not part of the Olympics and it’s up to the decision-makers of the game to include it in future.

How many bowls are in a lawn bowl?

Singles and Pairs are played with four bowls. Triples are played with three bowls and Fours are played with 2 bowls.

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Niladri Chakraborty
Niladri Chakraborty
A creative mind and a free soul, Niladri Chakraborty is an extremely passionate football enthusiast. He bleeds for Liverpool FC and currently pursuing a MBA degree in Sports Management, with a dream to work for the club he loves in the future. Keen about football analytics and scouting, Niladri's love for writing made him join KreedOn to express his thoughts. He is also a movie buff, loves music and loves reading about spirituality, psychology and world history to boost his knowledge, which remain the most favorite topics for him beside football.


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