Guidance To Bowlers

This online guide is not, and cannot be, a complete guide to the game of bowls.

We intend this to be an introduction to the basics of the game, with particular relevance to newer bowlers.

The best way to learn is to play and, while doing so, watch and listen to your team mates, your opponents and other players.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. All the members started as complete novices at some time and will be more than happy to relay the help that they received then.


Your Club

Welcome to Louth and District Indoor Bowling Club. Now that you are a member of the Club you assume responsibilities and become a working part of it. You will get out of the game of bowls just what you put in to it .Don't be upset by the first minor mishap.

You will find that the officers of the Club give their time and energy so that you can enjoy and play your game. Do everything you can to make their work as easy as possible; be punctual and willing to abide by their decisions, realising that they are made not just for you, but for the betterment of all. Support the social functions, as they are organised for the good of the Club and your enjoyment.

Never let your Club down and be proud of it. Do nothing in your actions, words or appearance, which will reflect against you or the Club. Do your part to enhance its reputation so that it will continue to be known as a fine Club.



Friendly sporting acts towards your team mates and opponents are appreciated and make the game of bowls more sociable and enjoyable.

Before and after the games, all the players shake hands with each other and, if necessary, introduce themselves.

Keep still and quiet whilst others are delivering their bowls.

When at the mat end, stand at least one yard behind the mat when not bowling.

When at the head end, stand still, well behind the jack and away from the head. Do not obstruct the view of the head. Unless by prior agreement, only the number 3 (or number 2 in triples) should give advice to the skip.

Applaud a good shot, from either side.

When clearing bowls from the head after the end make sure you leave a clear path directly behind the mat.

When changing ends walk down the centre of the rink to avoid the bowling line on adjacent rinks.

After delivering your bowl, do not stray across onto the adjoining rink. Watch your bowl until it comes to rest and note if your skip indicates how long or short your delivery was. If you step forward off the mat as you bowl, make sure you get back behind it before the bowl stops.

It is considered bad form to applaud a lucky or fluke shot. As with a net cord in tennis, an acknowledgment to your opponent that the success was undeserved is expected.

No matter how disappointed you may be with your efforts, swearing or other displays of bad temper are not acceptable in this game. Please restrain yourself, and if you do weaken, apologise immediately.

Any bowler who intends to fire or play a weighted shot should advise the other players of his/ her intent.

Players at the head should be ready to protect adjacent rinks from stray bowls, whether they are the result of a weighted shot, a wrong bias or a wide delivery.



What should always be worn:


White from the waist up.

Regulation skirts or trousers in grey.

White or cream skirts or trousers when playing representative matches or Club finals.

Regulation shoes of any colour may be worn in club games

White or brown shoes when playing in white skirts.

The Club waistcoat (green) must be worn when representing the Club.


White from the waist up for all games.

Regulation grey trousers.

White trousers and socks when playing representative matches or Club finals.

Brown bowling shoes or white shoes when playing county games.

Regulation shoes of any colour may be worn in club games.
White or brown shoes must be worn when wearing “whites” in county matches and club finals.
Socks must be white when wearing “whites” in county matches.



You require a set of 4 bowls, often referred to as woods. Each set must bear the official testers stamp, which must be 2002 or later and legible.



This is the draw or curve the bowl makes in the course of its movement down the green. The side of the bowl with the small disc is bias; it should always be towards the inside of the bowling line.

Distance from the Jack

Indication of the weight of a bowl is given in relation to its distance from the jack, as though it had been on the centre line, not its actual distance from the jack.

Distances are often signalled visually by hands held apart, hands held above the floor or by a number of fingers held up (this usually means yards), rather than being called out. If you are not sure what has been signalled to you, ask before you deliver your next bowl.

Pay attention to what your skip says or signals, particularly if your bowl contacts another one before stopping. Some skips will tell you where you have actually finished, whilst others will estimate where you would have finished without the contact. Make sure you know what your skip is telling you.

The Game of Bowls

Bowls is usually played in one of the following formats:


Two players deliver 4 bowls alternatively, the winner being the first to score 21 shots.


Two players in a team: The leads play their 4 bowls alternatively, followed by skips, who play their bowls alternatively. The game is played over 21 ends, the winner being the pair which has scored the most shots.


The team comprises 3 players: leads, seconds and skips, each playing 3 bowls alternately. The game is played over 18 ends; the team scoring the most shots is the winner.

Fours or Rinks

A team of 4 players, each playing 2 bowls alternately for 21 ends; the winner is the team scoring the most shots.

With the exception of singles, domestic games are played to a time limit of 2 hours.

There may also be variations on the number of ends played within the two hour limit depending on the specific competition.


The Duties of the Players in Rinks Play

The Lead

Having tossed a coin with the opposing lead to see who lays the mat for the first end:

Lays the mat (if the toss or the previous end was won)

Delivers the jack.

Plays mainly draw shots to lay a good foundation for the development of the head.

The Second

In representative games, keeps the scorecard and, when the home team, updates the rink scoreboard and main score board.

In domestic games, home second keeps the scorecard each end, away second alters the score board.

At the end of Club games, gets the signature of the losing skip on the card and puts the card in the box or gives it to the winning skip.

The Third

Acts as measurer to determine the shots.

Advises the skip, which shot to play when requested.

Marks touchers (bowls that come in contact with the jack. See further along for a fuller explanation). (In Triples, the no. 2 usually keeps the score as well).

The Skip

Stands at the opposite end of the rink and directs the other players of the team.

Plays last and should be an experienced player.

All team members other that the number 3 (number 2 in triples) stay well clear of the head until all shots have been decided.


The scoring is 1 point for each of the team’s bowls nearer to the jack than their opponents nearest bowl when the end is completed.


Should you find yourself in a position where you are required to measure, adopt the following procedure:

Initially try to agree with your opposite number how many shots are awarded to which team by simply looking to see which bowls are closest to the jack.

Do not spend too long doing this, if it is not immediately obvious, it is usually quicker and always more accurate to measure. If you are in any doubt, measure.

Remove any bowls which are clearly holding shots; place them all in one position away from the head so that they don’t get measured twice. (This may eliminate the need to measure, as the situation may become clearer).

The player contesting the next shot measures from the jack to his/ her opponents bowl first then measures his/ her own teams bowl, seeking agreement with the result from the opposing player before moving a bowl.

If several shots are in dispute, measure the odd one out first and then go round the others to see which, if any, are closer.

There are other refinements to the process, such as wedging unstable bowls, measuring into the ditch, etc, but this will give you a good basis from which to start.


Live Bowls ( toucher or chalker)

If a bowl touches the jack while it is on its original run down the green, it is marked with chalk and remains live, i.e. in play, even if it goes into the ditch, in which case a red marker is put on the bank above it and can count in the score. (If it goes off the side of the rink it is no longer live and is removed.) If an un-chalked bowl touches the jack later, because either it or the jack has been moved, this does not make it a toucher.

Marking a Singles Game

Should you be asked to mark a singles game, remember the following basic points:

Stand well behind the head. Watch for, and mark, touchers and be ready to protect adjacent heads if necessary.

Give information to the players only when they ask for it, in which case you answer their questions as literally as you can.

The marker is neutral. This is the one situation in which you should not publicly applaud good shots.

The players decide the score, not the marker, who measures only when asked to do so by one of the players.