Understanding the Game of Bowls
For those who are new to the game of bowls or those thinking of taking up the game, the
following pages might be helpful.
Lawn Bowling Glossary of Terms
Bias is the amount of curve that a bowl will take during its course to the jack. Bowls are available with several different biases for use in different conditions and competitions. As part of the manufacturing process all bowls are tested against "Master Bowl", which defines the limits of this bias.
A Burned or "burnt" End is one where the Jack has been moved outside the boundaries of the rink by a bowl in play. In normal competition Burned Ends must be replayed.
Deliver is the term used for throwing or rolling a bowl. The delivery is the action of delivering a bowl. A bowler with a good delivery can be compared to a golfer with a good swing.
The term draw can have several meanings in bowling. As a noun it can refer to the type of shot being played. A "dead draw" is an attempt to deliver the bowl as close as possible to the target (generally the jack). It can also be used as a verb. You may hear a skip issuing an instruction such as, "Just draw to the jack".
A drive is type of shot in bowling where the player delivers the bowl with maximum force toward the target. Otherwise know in Scotland as a "blooter"!
An end of bowls comprises the placing of the mat, the delivery of the jack and the playing of all the required bowls of all of the opponents in one direction on the rink.
A Guard is a bowl played to a position that restricts the opposition from getting to the target.
The head refers collectively to the Jack and the bowls that have been delivered and come to rest within the boundaries of the rink.
When a player unintentionally delivers a bowl beyond the jack or the intended target it is described as being Heavy.
The Jack is the small white or yellow ball that is the target in bowls. You may also hear it referred to colloquially as the "White", the "Kitty" or the "Sweetie".
If a bowl is Jack high it means that it has reached a position such that its nearest part is laterally aligned with the jack. Effectively it means that the bowl and jack are level.
A Lead is the person who plays first in pairs triples or fours (rinks) game. The lead is responsible for setting the mat and delivering the jack to start the end.
The Line or Road is the curved route taken to the jack. E.g. "You are a yard short but your line was good."
The Second in a triples or rinks (fours) game is the player who plays second. In the rinks game the second is responsible for marking the score card.
A bowl that does not reach the jack or the intended target is described as being short.
Shot can have several meanings. The shot or shots are the number of points scored in an end. It can also mean the type of delivery, e.g. a drawing shot, and during an end, the bowl that is currently nearest the jack.
The Skip is the captain of a team in pairs, triples or rinks play. The Skip is always last to play and is responsible for directing the play during an end. The other players in a team must follow the Skip's instructions.
The third is the third player to play in a rinks game. The third is normally responsible, with his corresponding opponent, for deciding the result of an end, i.e. who is lying the shot and how many shots have been scored. The skips however have the final say in this in the event of any dispute.
A Toucher is a bowl that during its course touches the jack before finishing within the boundaries of the rink. A Toucher remains live even if it finishes in the ditch.
Weight is the term used to refer to the power applied to a delivery.
Before the introduction of plastic composition bowls they were made from the heaviest most dense wood available, Lignum Vitae. At this time bowls were often called Woods and some people still use this as a generic term for bowls.
Home Page Beginners Guide Etiquette