Lawn Bowling Terms

2-Metre Mark – The minimum leading edge of the mat from the edge of the ditch and the furthermost position that the jack can be placed at the other end of the rink.

Back Bowl – A bowl that comes to rest beyond the Jack.

Backhand – When, for the right-handed player, the bowl is delivered so that the curve of the bowl is from left to right as it moves towards its objective.

Bank – The outer wall of the ditch that surrounds the green. It is raised above the playing surface.

Bias – Bowls are not round, they are very slightly egg shaped and one side has a bias. This side is offset to make the bowl curve. The bias side of the bowl is noted by the smaller round ring.

Blocker – A bowl delivered with less weight than the basic draw, calculated to come to rest at a position which will impede (or block) an opponent’s shot

Bowls – Usually a set of four identical bowls

Centre Line – This is the line marked at both ends of the rink to determine where the jack and mat is centred.

Chalk – Used to indicate a bowl that has touched the jack as part of its initial delivery during an end. A player in charge of the head will use a piece of chalk, or chalk spray, to place a mark, which must be done before the next bowl comes to a rest, and must be removed before the bowl is delivered in the next end.

Coin Toss – A call made when determining which player or team will deliver the first bowl at the start of a game. One player will toss a coin end over end, and calling “heads” or “tails” refers to the coin stopping with the head or tail of the coin are facing upward.

Counter – Any bowl which contributes to the score at the completion of the end.

Cover That Bowl – An instruction to a bowler to bowl in such a way that the bowl finishes between the jack and the bowl indicated.

Dead Bowl – When a ‘none toucher’ bowl either goes in the ditch or any bowl rests outside the rink field of play.

Declare the Head – An expression advising that the last player on the mat is not going to deliver his last bowl. It is called for if the player or team is holding shot, or that there is significant danger of changing the head to the detriment of the last bowler/team if the last bowl were to change the current situation.

Ditch – The area surrounding a green, usually identifiable as a shallow trench at the edges of the green. Some ditches are a natural surround formed by mounds and trenches of soil, whilst other greens have a man-made ditch comprising wooden form work, plinth, rubber sheets, and filled with a sand or artificial material.

Ditch Weight – To play a bowl with sufficient weight to reach the ditch at the other end of the rink

Do Not Be Short – A plea to a bowler to use sufficient pace or weight, and with the correct green or land, to arrive exactly at its objective.

Down – When your team does not have the shot bowl, you are considered to be down. You may be down by one or more shots.

Draw Shot – Shots where the bowl is rolled to the jack without disturbing the bowls already at the head. The classic shot in the game of bowls.

Drive – A bowl delivered with the maximum force that a player can exert, the aim being to kill the end, disturb the head, or hit opposition bowls out of the head.

Either Hand – When a bowler delivers a bowl, he can choose to play either a forehand or backhand shot. During play the person in charge of the head may advise the player on the mat that he can play “either hand” rather than directing a particular hand to play.

End – Each time you bowl a direction on the rink it is called an end. So down and back is called two ends. It is one way of determining length of game or match.

Foot Fault – A foot fault occurs when the bowler does not have one foot on or over the mat on release of the bowl. The foot may be on the mat or in the air.

Give Away the Mat – The winner of the coin toss at the beginning of the game has the option to play the first bowl, called “keeping the mat”, or letting the opposition have the first bowl, “giving away the mat”, thus reserving the last bowl of the end for themselves. After the first end, the winner of the end automatically gets the mat and the first bowl of the next end.

Grass – Apart from the surface, the directional line the bowl takes in order for it to curve towards the jack. So, a bowl with “too much grass” will be too wide.

Head – The jack and as many bowls as have been played at any stage of any end. Bowls in the head may be on the rink or in the ditch.

Hog Line – Special markers (often flags) that dictate the minimum line beyond which the jack must be rolled for the end to be valid.

Jack – The small white or yellow ball. The jack is rolled down the centre of the rink past the second hog line and at least 2 metres from the ditch by the team which “has the mat”.

Jack High – Is a comparison of the position of a bowl in relation to the jack. A “jack high bowl” means a bowl whose front edge, is level with the front edge of the jack.

Lead – The person who starts off the play. Also places the mat and rolls the jack if their team “has the mat”.

Mat – The mat from which a bowler must make her/his delivery

Narrow Shot – Where a player has not allowed enough green or land. But this shot can sometimes be played intentionally.

Possession – The player or team whose turn it is to deliver a bowl is said to be in possession of the mat. Possession passes to the opposition when the bowl has come to rest after a delivery. Possession also includes the possession of the head, and opposition players should remain away from the head when not in possession of the mat.

Promoting A Bowl – Pushing up one of your team’s bowls to a better position.

Re-Spot – If during play, the jack is out of bounds, some competitions have provision for placing the jack back within the confines of the rink on a predetermined place. The end then continues from that point with all other live bowls delivered remaining in place.

Rink – The rectangular area of the green on which play takes place.

Second – In a team of 3 or more, the player who delivers his bowl immediately after the lead is known as the second.

Short Jack – A jack that is at the shortest distance allowed from the front edge of the mat, or close to this limit.

Skip – The captain of a game of fours, triples or pairs. She/He is last to bowl and is responsible for dictating the tactics of the game.

Spot the Jack – When the jack is rolled and comes to rest beyond the 2-metre mark, but within the boundary of the rink, then it is moved to that mark.

Tape Measure – A custom-designed tape measure used to judge the distance between the jack and one or more bowls at the conclusion of an end.

Third – In a team of 4, the player who delivers his bowl after the lead and second have delivered their bowls is known as the third.

Toucher in The Ditch – A toucher which has fallen into the ditch. This is a ‘live’ bowl, unless it has come to rest outside the confines of the rink.

Toucher on The Green – A bowl which, during its course, has touched the jack, or a bowl which has come to rest and falls over to touch the jack before the next bowl is delivered, or a bowl that is the last to be delivered and falls and touches the jack within the period of half a minute. All the above will be marked with a chalk mark.

Touchers – A bowl that makes contact with the jack during its initial delivery.

Up – When your team has the shot bowl, you are considered to be ‘up’. You may be ‘up’ by one or more points.

Wick – When a bowl is deflected during its progress after delivery. In most cases, this will be from contacting a bowl or jack. After the “wick”, the direction of the bowl is altered away from its regular arc implied by the bias.

Yard On – Deliver the bowl with sufficient weight to finish 1 yard (or 1 metre) past the objective (usually the jack, or another bowl within the rink)