Delivery The Head The Clubhouse

Syston Bowling Club

"At the heart of the local community for over 85 years"



The Club has two fully-qualified County Coaches - Ken Renshaw and Gary Kilbourne.  Both are always ready to arrange individual (or group) coaching sessions. 

In addition, players might find something of use as they seek to improve their game, from the advice and guidance offered below:


For Beginners: How Bowls is played
The following introduction covers the basic aspects of the game, as normally played in the UK. It is not intended to be a complete definition of the game or the rules.)

Like many games, the object of Bowls is essentially simple. It can be played by almost anyone, but to play consistently well demands determination, concentration and practice.

The game of Bowls is played on a 34 to 40 metre square of closely cut grass called the green. The green is divided into playing areas called rinks.   The green is surrounded by a small ditch to catch bowls which leave the green, and a bank upon which markers indicate the corners and centrelines of each rink.

Matches may be mixed or single-sex.  Bowls is a game in which men and women can play on virtually equal terms

Players deliver their bowls (sometimes called “woods”) alternately from a mat at one end of the rink, towards a small white ball called the jack at the other end.  The bowls are shaped so that they do not run in a straight line, but take a curved path towards the jack.

To be successful, the bowl must be delivered with the correct weight, along the correct line. The bowl can be delivered either forehand (curving in towards the jack from the right) or backhand (curving in from the left).

Bowls can be played as singles, or in teams of pairs, triples, or fours (a team of four is also known as a 'rink'). In fours or rinks games, each team member has a particular role to play:

The first, or lead, places the mat, delivers the jack and centres it before attempting to bowl as close as possible to the jack.

The second or two keeps the score card and scoreboard up to date. The two will normally be required to improve or consolidate the position achieved by the lead.

The third or three may be called upon to play different types of shots in order to score more, or to place bowls tactically to protect an advantage. The three also advises the skip on choice of shots, and agrees the number of shots scored, measuring if required.

The skip is in overall charge of the rink, directs the other players on choice of shots, and tries to build the 'head' of bowls to his or her advantage.

The normal game formats are as follows:
In Fours or Rinks play, the lead, two, three and skip each deliver two bowls for 21 ends.
In Singles, the two opponents deliver four bowls alternately. The first to reach 21 shots is the winner.
For Pairs, the players deliver four bowls each. The team scoring the most shots after 21 ends is the winner.
In the Triples game, the lead, second and skip deliver three bowls each, for 18 ends.

Although these are the most common formats, variations are allowed by the controlling bodies.


Each end, after all woods have been delivered into the head (above), all woods belonging to one player or team that lie closest to the jack are counted as shots.    In this illustration, two blue woods lie closet to the jack.  A red wood lies a close third.  The blue player/team therefore adds two shots to the cumulative score.  Red scores nothing.  In case of doubt, a measure can be used to determine the outcome.



         1.      Afternoon matches - representing the Club
Club shirt and white trousers/tailored white shorts
                 Bowling shoes
                 Blazer optional

          2.     Evening matches – representing the Club
Club shirt and grey trousers
                  Bowling shoes

           3.    Club/County Competitions - including Markers
Club shirt and grey trousers** Ladies: White skirt
                 Bowling shoes
                 **Whites to be worn for all Club Competition Finals

           4.    Loughborough Triples League, Corson Shield and other League matches
Club shirt and grey trousers
                  Bowling shoes

           5.     Casual bowling/Roll-ups
                  Club or plain white shirt and grey trousers
                  Bowling shoes

No jeans, jogging trousers, track suit (or similar) bottoms allowed at any time on the green. 
Any complaints should be drawn to the attention of a member of the Management Committee.

Non-members undergoing coaching need only wear flat shoes (no heels)


            1.     Check that you know and comply with the correct dress for the occasion
            2.    Make sure you know the starting time of the game and arrive early.

             3.    If necessary, allow time to change before the arrival of guests
                   and always be on the green in timely fashion.
            4.     In a team game, be there to welcome your guests.
            5.     Enter and leave the green by any steps or other aids provided.
            6.     Do not drop your bowls on to the green.
            7.     Shake hands with your opponent(s) before and after the game.
            8.     Do not sit on the steps or the bank.
            9.     Do not drop litter in the ditches. Use any receptacles provided.
           10.     Stand still and be quiet while your opponent(s) are about to play.
          11.     Do not infringe the laws of rink possession.
          12.    Wait until the result of the end has been declared before starting to break up the head.
          13.     If you are responsible for keeping score, compare your card with that of your opponents at regular intervals.
          14.    Unless you have been delegated to decide the shots at the completion of an end, do not interfere in any way with the process.
          15.    If an umpire has been called, stay clear of the head until a decision has been made.
          16..    Do not run or smoke on the green.
          17.    Deliver your woods in a manner which does not damage the green and draw the attention of the Captain to any breach
                   of this practice.
          18..   When leaving the green for any reason, take great care that you do not walk across the line of sight
                  of any player occupying the mat at the opposite end of a rink in preparation for a delivery.
          18.   At the end of the game avoid changing out of your playing uniform while guests remain in the clubhouse or
                  while you are a guest at another Club.

        With acknowledgements to Hove & Kingsway Bowling Club

Back Bowl: A bowl that comes to rest beyond the Jack.
Backhand draw: When a bowl which is aimed to the left of the Jack curves to the right.
Be up� (see also Up): Instruction from Skip to bowl at least as far as the Jack).
Bias (see also Wrong bias): Weighted offset to make the bowl curve. The bias side of the bowl is noted by the smaller button. Bias is correct when the bowl curves towards the Jack.
Blocker: A bowl that blocks someone (usually an opponent) from reaching the desired target.
Dead bowl: When a bowl either goes in the ditch without touching the Jack or comes to rest outside of the rink in play (see Lane).
Dead end / Burned end: When the Jack has been knocked out of bounds. The end is not counted and is played again.
Ditcher: A wood which ends up in the ditch behind the head whether directly by delivery or as the result of a subsequent bowl knocking it there, is called a ditcher, or dead bowl. A ditcher can never be counted in a score unless it has been previously correctly marked as a Toucher (see Toucher)
Down: When your team does not currently have the Shot Bowl, you are considered to be �down�. You may be down by one or more points.
Draw shot: Shots where the bowl is rolled to a specific location without causing too much disturbance of bowls already at the Head. (See Hand).
Driving (or Firing): This involves bowling with considerable force with the aim of knocking either the Jack or a specific bowl(s) out of play.
End: Means playing of the Jack and all bowls of both opponents in the same direction on a Rink. Bowling to the Jack is called �one end.� The number of Ends played is decided by Club Rules..
Foot fault: A foot fault occurs when the bowler does not have one foot on or over the mat on release of the bowl.
Forehand draw: When the bowl is aimed to the right of the Jack, and curves to the left .
Grass: Apart from the playing surface itself, �grass� is the directional line the bowl takes in order for it to curve towards the Jack. So a �too much grass� bowl will be wide.
Green: The whole area on which lawn bowls is played. The Green is divided into separate rinks.
Hammer: The final bowl of an end. Rules allow the winning team on an end to give away the mat and so retain control of the hammer.
Hand: The side on which the bowl is delivered: either Forehand or Backhand.
Head: The area covering delivered bowls and the jack indicating the score at any given time in a game. �Reading the head� is a skill which enables a player to decide which shot will be the most effective.
Hog line: Special markers at the side of a green which indicate the minimum length beyond which the jack must be rolled for the end to be valid.
Holding shot: Team with their bowl(s) closest to Jack (see also Shot Bowl).
Jack: Small white or yellow ball or �kitty� used as a target to play to, which determines point scoring (see Points).
Lane (see also Rink): All games are played within Lanes that are at least 14 ft. wide. The lanes for a given game are designated with markers on the edges of the green. This way, multiple games can be played simultaneously on one green. Bowls that come to rest out of their lanes are Dead Bowls and are removed from the end.
Lead: The person who starts off the play for each team. Lead also places the mat and rolls the jack if their team �has the mat� either by winning the toss at the start of the game or has won the previous end.
Line: Describes the path of a bowl between the delivery hand of the player and the Jack. Good Line and Length combined lead to the perfect shot.
Long: A bowl which passes the head and ends in a position unlikely to affect or influence the outcome of the end is described as �long�.
Mat: The actual mat that is placed by the team winning the previous end, to start the next end. This is also known as �having the mat�. The team with the mat always rolls the jack to start a fresh end.
Measure: At the close of an end, when bowls are too close to visually decide which one is closest to the jack, the distance of separation is measured. Special tape measures to do this. The actual distance is irrelevant so the tapes are only used to see who is closest.
Narrow: Bowler didn�t deliver the wood far enough away from centreline to the jack.
Pairs: Bowls games in which each team has a pair of players (Skip and a Lead)
Points: The units of scoring, derived from the total number of bowls from the same side that end up closest to the jack in any end played.
Potato (see also Pineapple): A badly thrown (or released) bowl that hops, skips and jumps.
Promoting: creating a contact with one of your team�s bowls in order to improve its position in the head.
Rink: The lane on the grass playing surface. Each Rink is defined by coloured markers at each end to clearly define the lane.
Rinks bowls: A game in which there are 4 players per team - a Skip, a Number 3, a Number 2 and a Lead - using 2 bowls each.
Skipper: Team captain or Skip who always plays last each end. This person is usually the most experienced player, who also guides the strategy.
Short (see also Long): A bowl which fails to reach the head is described as short.
Shot: The bowl closest to the jack.
Tie: When the two closest bowls are both exactly the same distance from the jack and belong to opposing teams, even after measurement, the end is declared a tie.
Touchers: Bowls that hit the Jack after delivery. These bowls are marked with chalk and remain �alive� even if they are in the ditch.
Trial ends: Formal practice ends, usually only allowed at the start of a tournament, in which each team rolls 2 bowls down and back to get a �feel� of the green. Such ends do not count in the scoring.
Triples: A game in which each team has 3 players � a Skip, a Number 2 and a Lead � each using 3 bowls.
Up: When your team is holding shot (with one or more bowls) you are considered to be �Up�..
Weight: The amount of speed applied by a player to the bowl from the mat to the Jack. �Heavy� weight means that the bowl stops beyond the Jack, while �Light� means that it stops short of the spot desired.
Wide: Bowler deliver the wood too far away from centreline to the jack. This can also be described as �taking too much grass�).
Wick: When a bowl bounces off another bowl (usually accidentally) and ends up in a favourable position.
Wood: An alternative term for a bowl.
Wrong bias � Describes the action of delivering a bowl which bends in the opposite direction to that which is intended caused by failing to check the grip and bias on the bowl before delivery
Yard On: A shot delivered with an extra degree of speed, slower than firing, in order either to to displace or disturb other bowls or to be certain of coming to a stop in the area behind the jack.