Bowling FAQ

Lawn Bowls Frequently Asked Questions

This is a list of the commonly asked questions regarding the rules of Lawn Bowls. These relate the to the rules of the National Lawn Bowls Association.

Lawn Bowls

How do I play bowls?

What size are Lawn Bowls Greens?
a. Greens are normally between 34 – 40 metres (37 – 44 yards) and require to be rectangular or square.

bowling green

Are all Rinks the same width?
a. No – they can vary between 4.3 and 5.8 metres (14/19 ft.) for Outdoor greens, and 4.6 and 5.8 metres (15/19 ft) for Indoor greens.

Bowls mat
Lawn Bowls Mat

Are Jacks & Mats always the same everywhere?
a. Mats yes – they are 360mm wide x 600mm (14 inches x 24 inches) long. Jacks may be White or Yellow in colour. While the same size (not less than 63mm and not more than 64mm), the jack used for Indoor or Artificial Outdoor surface play to weigh between 382gms and 453gms (between 13.5 and 16 ounces). To weigh between 225gms and 285gms (1/2lb) approx., for grass, outdoor surfaces.

Jack
Lawn Bowls Jack

Does it matter which colour of bowling shoes I buy?
a. Not really, Brown or Grey are traditional but trainer type shoes are increasingly worn.

Shoes

Can I use any Bowls, to play in a team I have just joined?
a. Broadly speaking yes – BUT they MUST be, or from, a matched set of 4,
i.e. the same Make / Colour/Size/Weight/Engraving/ Serial Number, and each with a Legal Date Stamp,

What happens if a Bowl is damaged during a game?
a. It may be replaced from the same set, but if using 4 bowls you need to replace the whole set to continue.

If I win the toss to start a game must I play first?
a. No – You have the choice to either do so, or ask your opponent to do so. Note however that if this first end is eventually ‘burned’ or a ‘no shot’, the player who played first shall again do so to replay it.

How many trial ends are allowed, and where must the Mat and Jack be placed?
a. If agreed to be played, not more than 1 in each direction, (they are not mandatory), no ‘must’ positions as such – can be placed anywhere within normal limitations.

Are you allowed to change, or try out different Bowls, during trial ends?
a. Yes – You can also start the game with a different set providing they have been checked and passed beforehand.

Can any member of a Team :
(1) deliver the Jack, or
(2) mark the scorecard, or
(3) measure shots?
a.
(1) No- only the Lead.
(2) Yes – but the number two should carry it throughout the game and compare scores with the opposition number two after each end,
(3) Yes – as delegated by the Skip, but this is usually the number three.

I deliver the Jack and it strikes someone going up the Rink, what happens?
a.
(1) If it was an opponent or neutral person (or object) that was struck, – you re-deliver it-or
(2) If it was one of your own team that was struck, – your opponent re-delivers it, and can re-position the mat to do so if they wish. No matter who it is however, the winner of the last ‘scoring’ end delivers the 1st bowl.

How often can the Leads, in turn, deliver illegal Jacks to start an end, and what then?
a. Only once each, – the Jack is then set at the distant 2 metre mark, with the Mat placement at the option of the first due to play.

I deliver the Jack because of an illegal delivery by my opponent, and that end is ‘burned’ do I deliver the jack to replay the end?
a. No – After the 1st end the winner of the last ‘scoring’ end always plays first.

Must I have two feet on the Mat to deliver Jack or Bowls?
a. No – but one must be on, or in the air over the Mat, at the moment of delivery.

Is there a time limit for a bowl to be a ‘Toucher’, i.e. comes to rest then falls over to touch the Jack?
a. Yes – it must make contact before the next Bowl to be played leaves the player’s hand, or if it is the last Bowl to be played; this must be within 30 seconds of it coming to rest.

bowl and jack

Is there a time limit for marking a ‘Toucher’?
a.  Yes – It must be marked with ‘chalk’, or (‘nominated’ to the opposing Skip, if that act might cause it to topple) before the next bowl played comes to rest, otherwise it ceases to be a Toucher’.

What if the Jack is in the ditch and is touched by, or stops, a newly delivered bowl?
a. The Bowl becomes ‘dead’. A Bowl can never become a Toucher after the Jack is in the ditch.

What does ‘Rink Possession actually mean?
a. Once the Bowl currently in play comes to rest, the player who delivered it must be either at the back of the Mat, or up at the Head, because at that moment ‘Possession of the Rink’ passes to the opposing Team. and the Team not in possession may not hold up, nor distract in any way, the player about to play.

What happens if a Bowl, or the Jack, rebounds from the bank back onto the Rink?
a. If a ‘Non Toucher’, it becomes a dead bowl, and any bowls disturbed by it are restored as near as possible to their original position by a member of the opposing Team. A Toucher’, and / or the Jack, remains in play and disturbances caused by them are legal and valid.

What if I play one of my opponent’s Bowls by mistake?
a. Nothing happens – once at rest, mark its position and angle, replace it exactly with yours and return it to its owner.

What happens if I play before my turn?
a. If the bowl is on its way, the opposing Skip can stop it and return it to be played in the proper sequence. If it is not noticed until it comes to rest, providing it is (a) still “live” and (b) has not disturbed the Head, the player, who should have played, plays 2 bowls in succession, to restore the proper sequence, If, however, it has disturbed the Head, the opposing Skip has 3 options: – (a) Leave things as they are and have his/her player play two Bowls in succession, or (b) Replace the Head to its original position and return the bowl, -to be re-played in its proper turn, or (c) Declare the end dead.