Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the best place online to learn about the game?

Who makes the rules?

Bowls England is the National Governing Body for the sport of flat green bowls. They are responsible for promoting good governance at all levels. 

What are the rules?

This in-depth beginners’ guide, from, will tell you everything you need to know about the game, the rules and bowls you’ll need to play! 

What is the difference between Lawn Bowls and Crown Green Bowls? 

Lawn bowls is played up and down a flat grass surface called a rink.
Crown green bowls is played on a green with a mound in it, or crown, which affects how the bowls roll. 

What bowls should I buy

Selecting your first set of bowls can be a bit of a minefield. With over 30 models currently on sale, all with unique characteristics, in 8 different sizes, and a multitude of colours to choose from it’s no wonder we get intimidated! This page on jackbowlshigh will help unravel the mysteries of buying your first set.

What makes the bowl turn

Many people incorrectly assume that one side of a bowl is more heavily weighted than the other. However it is the shape of the bowl that makes it ‘turn’ rather than anything to do with weight. This is known as ‘bias’. The curved path taken by the bowl is always towards the side with the smaller disc, but this only happens when the bowl begins to slow down. The point at which the bowl begins to turn is known as the ‘shoulder’ and this will vary according to the distance, or length, that the jack is from the mat. A simple guide is that the shoulder is roughly two thirds of the distance the bowl has to run to arrive at its objective.

What types of games are played

Singles: Two players with four bowls each – winner is first to 21 shots.

Pairs: Two teams of two – the winning side is team to score most shots after agreed number of ends.

Triples: Two teams of three – the winning side is team to score most shots after agreed number of ends.

Fours: Two teams of four – the winning side is team to score most shots after agreed number of ends. 

In competitive games of pairs, triples and fours, an ‘extra end’ is played if the scores are level after the allotted number of ends have been completed. 

What's you role in a team game

Lead: The Lead is the first to play. The Lead places the mat, delivers the jack and centres it before attempting to bowl as close as possible to the jack. 

Second: The Seconds play after the Leads have each played their two bowls. The Second may be asked to play a variety of different shots by their skip depending on what the Leads have done. 

Third: The Third may be called upon to play different shots in order to score more or to place bowls tactically to protect an advantage. In addition the Third is also responsible for advising the skip when requested and agreeing the number of shots with their opposite number each end and measuring as required. 

Skip: The Skip has overall responsibility for the rink and should be an experienced and capable player to offer assistance to new bowlers. The Skip’s duties include directing the development of each end, overall responsibility for the rink as well as settling any disputed points with the opposite Skip – especially in event of no umpire being present. They must also complete the score card, but may delegate this duty to another member of their team. 

How many bowls clubs are there in the UK?

There are 35 affiliated county bowling associations, to which a total of 2,700 clubs are in membership nationwide. Approximately 132,000 players come under the jurisdiction of this association

How old is the game of bowls?

Bowls originated in ancient Egypt (some 5,200 years BC) and has been played in England since the 13th century. It waxed and waned in popularity until the mid-19th century, when it experienced a revival, especially in Scotland. The Scots developed flat greens and drew up rules that remain largely unchanged to this day! 

In 1511, Henry VIII, himself a bowler, banned the sport among the lower classes and levied a fee of £100 on any private bowling green to ensure that only the wealthy could play. This he did because he wanted the masses to focus on things like archery to defend the realm.

What is the oldest bowls club in the UK?

The world's oldest club, and green, is Southampton (Old) Bowling Green.
Bowls was first played there in 1299.