Bowls is a science, the study of a lifetime, in which you may exhaust yourself but not your subject. It is a contest, a duel calling for courage, skill and self-control. It is a test of temper, a trial of honour, a revealer of character. It affords the chance to play the man and act the gentleman.
It is a cure for care, an antidote for worry. It includes companionship with friends, sociability and the opportunity for courtesy, kindliness and generosity to an opponent. It provides not only physical health but also moral force.
It is fun too! Your life will be enriched by many years of enjoyment from this lifelong sport – particularly from the lasting friendships you establish through the spirit of competition and co-operation.
Welcome to the club!
GAME A, B, C’s
The Objective of the Game
The object of the game is to roll the bowls so that they will come to rest as close as possible to the target, which is a small white ball called the jack. This is no easy feat as the bowls are biased (not round) and therefore do not travel in a straight line. Points, or shots as they are known in the game, are won by the side whose bowl or bowls are closer to the jack than any of those of the opposition.
Singles and Teams
Singles – one player against another, each using four bowls, for a total of eight bowls to an end. A game of singles is played to a predetermined number of points, usually twenty-one, instead of a number of ends as a team game. The first player to reach the required number of points wins the match.
Teams – Teams may be comprised of two, three or four players.
Pairs– a team of two against two, each player using four bowls, for a total of eight to a team, sixteen to an end. In most competitions, twenty-one ends constitutes a men’s game and eighteen ends, a women’s. The names of the two players on a pairs team are lead and skip.
Triples – a team of three against three, each player using three bowls, for a total of nine per team, eighteen per end. Competition is usually eighteen ends. Names of the players are lead, vice (or third) and skip.
Fours – a team of four against four, each player using two bowls, for a total of eight per team, sixteen per end. Competition is usually twenty-one ends in men’s games and eighteen in women’s . The names of the players are lead, second, vice (or third) and skip.
For club games (Jitneys), the games can be as short as eight ends or fifteen points for singles. A casual “make-up” game at club level can be any length the plays agree to.
The green is the square or rectangular playing surface bounded by a ditch and divided into playing areas called rinks. In Canada a mixture of grasses, mostly Bent and Fescue are used on the greens. These grasses are cut to a height of approximately 2mm to 4mm. This height provides a fast, smooth running surface. Most greens are extremely expensive to build and maintain and are easily damaged. Players, therefore, are not allowed on the green without the proper footwear and knowledge of the proper use of equipment.
The green is divided into parallel rinks. The marks which designate the boundary of the rinks and the centre of each rink are placed on the face of the banks. A rink is terminated at each end by a ditch. The front ditch at the far end and the rear ditch is behind the mat. Both ditches are within the boundaries of the rink. A bowl falling into the front ditch is considered “dead” unless it first touches the jack – in which case it is called a “toucher” and remains in play.
The jack can be moved by a bowl in play and, as long as the jack remains within the boundaries of the rink, even if it goes into the ditch, it remains in play. If driven outside the boundaries of the rink then the end is declared “dead” and is replayed.
PREPARING THE DELIVERY
The grip is the first step in the delivery sequence. There are two basic grips. The one chosen by the bowler should be the one which is the most comfortable and which enable him to handle the bowl with the maximum control.
1. The claw or fingertip grip is one in which the bowl is held forward in the hand, resting on the fingers and gripped by the fingertips. This is the grip most commonly used and is often referred to as the classic grip. It allows for the greater sensitivity of touch and “feel” of the green and gives more control of the bowl, resulting in greater accuracy.
2. The cradle or palm grip is performed by cradling the bowl in the palm of the hand and gripping it along the full length of the fingers. This grip is less fatiguing to the hand, will give the bowler with a small hand more control and may allow him to use a larger bowl. There is more control with the cradle or palm grip in wet weather but less sensitivity to touch and less control in the back swing.
Laying the Mat
The mat ensures that every bowler in a game delivers their bowl from approximately the same place on the rink as every other player in that game. It also protects the green from excessive wear in one spot. At the start of each end the mat is placed on the centre line of the rink by the lead bowler. Facing the back ditch, lay the mat on the green and step back until the mat is at least 2 metres from the rear ditch and at least 23 metres from the front ditch.
Stance on the Mat
To begin the delivery, the player takes their stance on the mat, turns the body and aligns the feet to face along the line of aim, then delivers the bowl down that line. With correct weight and line of aim, the bowl should curve close to the designated spot that the player had in mind. By standing in the centre of the mat each time, a new bowler will find it easier to correct weight or line of aim and will also lessen the risk of foot faulting. One foot of the bowler must be on or over the mat at all times when delivering the bowl or jack.
Line of Aim
A player must first decide where they want the bowl to come to rest and then visualize the path the bowl must take to reach that spot. He then will deliver the bowl along the line visualized. This line is called the line of aim and is the imaginary line down which a bowl travels to reach its objective.
The line of aim may vary from rink to rink and under different green conditions and is defined as the amount of green or grass one takes to bring the bowl back to the centre of the rink.
Once the grip has been established, the proper stance on the mat taken and the line of aim determined, the next step in delivery sequence is the release of the bowl down the line of aim to its objective. To achieve this the bowler takes a moderate forward stop off the mat along the line of aim and bending forward, releases the bowl at ground level close to the toe of the forward foot.
Weight is the terminology used to describe the amount of force used to propel a bowl up the green to a designated spot. On a fast green or for a short bowl, not much weight is used. On heavy greens or to deliver a fast bowl a great distance up the green, much weight must be used. Weight cannot be taught; it must be learned. This knowledge comes by constant practice until the “feel” of the green becomes second nature to the bowler and he will, eventually, after delivering a few bowls on a particular rink, be able to adjust his weight accordingly to the condition of the green.
DELIVERY SEQUENCE CHECKLIST
1.Pick up the bowl and step onto the mat.
2.Receive instruction from your skip.
3.Align feet property for forehand or backhand deliver.
4.Check for correct bias
5.Assume correct grip and steady the bowl with opposite hand
6.Bend knees slightly or bend from the waist and choose line of aim by visualizing the path of the bowl to it’s objective.
7.Begin backswing and stepping-off action. Place non-bowling hand on your forward knee to provide stability as you step forward along the line of aim.
8.Keeping delivery arm straight, hips down and head up, swing arm forward along the line of aim in a pendular motion.
9.Release the bowl close to the toe of the forward foot. Thumb should leave bowl first and bowl should roll off the fingers.
10.Stay down until the bowl is released.
11.Delivery arm should follow along the line of aim in follow-through as body moves forward off the mat and returns to upright position.
12.Watch the progress of the bowl until it comes to rest. Check for wobble or bounce after its release.
Lawn bowls are not spherical, they are shaped on one side such that they follow a curved track to the jack. They carry a mark to indicate to which side the bias is applied.
As shown on the adjacent diagram the bowls can be delivered on the "forehand" or the "backhand" depending on the players preference or where bowls that have already been played are located.
The curved path helps the player to find a way past bowls that have been delivered short of the jack. Note that bowls may travel outside the boundaries of the rink during their course as long as they come to rest within these boundaries.
TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS
BIAS – On each bowl will be found two sets of rings, one set on either side of the bowl. The larger set of rings indicate the outside of the bowl and the small set the inside or bias side of the bowl. The bowl will always turn towards the bias side of the bowl when played
BOWL IN COURSE – Is a bowl from the time of its delivery until it comes to rest
SHOT BOWL(S) – The bowl or bowls closer to the jack than any of those of the apposition.
JACK HIGH BOWL – A bowl whose nearest portion is in line with and at the same distance from the mat line as the nearest portion of the jack.
LIGHT BOWL – A bowl delivered with less than the required weight to reach its objective. Also referred to as a short bowl because it has come to rest short of its objective.
NARROW BOWL– A bowl delivered inside the normal grass line.
WIDE BOWL – A bowl delivered outside the normal grass line.
THE END – The playing of the jack and all the bowls of all the opponents in the same direction on a rink.
TIED OR DRAWN END – An end where opposing bowls are touching or are equal distance from the jack. No score is recorded but the end is counted as a played end.
DEAD END – When the jack is “dead” the end shall be regarded as a “dead” end. The endd may also be declared dead under other conditions of play. All “dead ends” shall be replayed.
CENTRE LINE – An imaginary line which divides the rink equally into two parts and extends between the rink numbers at each end.
THE HEAD – The jack and such bowls as have come to rest within the boundary of the rink and are not dead.
LINE OF AIM – The imaginary line along which a bowl is delivered for a specific shot.
PACE OF THE GREEN – The number of seconds taken by a bowl from the time of its delivery to the moment it comes to rest approximately 27 metres from the mat line.
SIDE – An agreed number of teams whose combined scores determine the result of the match.