This game, in various forms, has stood the test of time, seamlessly blending elements of strategy, skill, social engagement, physical activity, affordability, competition, and pure enjoyment. While its fundamentals are easy to grasp, achieving mastery in this game—a pursuit that may span a lifetime—is a challenge that remains open-ended.

Bowls unfolds on a level grass surface referred to as a green, where a specific rink is marked out, distinguished by numbers at each end, ditches, and white stakes along the banks for boundary demarcation.

The equipment utilized includes “Bowls,” sizable biased balls with an elliptical shape, and a smaller white ball known as the “Jack.” The bowls’ bias, caused by their shape, introduces a turning effect as they traverse the green, gradually losing speed. Skill in the game lies in gauging the necessary weight to reach the target (the Jack) and determining the optimal line to guide the bowl towards the Jack more effectively than any other.

The game accommodates various formats: Singles, Pairs, Triples, or Rinks (Fours). Each team’s bowls constitute matched sets, featuring distinct markings for identification amid the competition.

Games are typically played over a predetermined number of ends, with Singles often reaching 21 points. Teams decide the order of play through a toss, determining the right to start or have the final bowl in the first end. After each end, the winning team must roll the Jack and the initial bowl for the subsequent end.

The person rolling the Jack also has the responsibility of setting the mat, centrally located on the rink, at least two meters from the near ditch and not exceeding the nearest “hog” line. Legal deliveries necessitate having one foot on or above the mat at the point of release.

The Jack, rolled first, moves in a straight line without bias. Players have the flexibility to roll the Jack at varying distances between the “hog” line and the ditch, influencing the overall length of the end based on team preference or exploiting opponents’ perceived weaknesses. Once the Jack is centered, the bowls are delivered in alternating turns, starting with the leads, followed by the seconds, thirds, and skips.

After all bowls are delivered, the end concludes, and points (“shots”) are awarded to the team with bowls closest to the Jack. Factors like the Jack being bumped off the green or into the ditch contribute to the dynamics of the game, requiring strategic considerations and defensive shots to navigate changing scenarios. Attention to the opponents’ bowls throughout an end becomes crucial, given the potential for the Jack to be moved, altering the shot standings and necessitating adaptability in gameplay.

Bowling Terms

At the Calgary Lawn Bowling Club, the game of lawn bowling comes with its own lexicon of terms and phrases that aficionados and players use to articulate the nuances of the sport. Here’s a compendium to demystify these specialized terms:

  1. 2-Metre Mark: The delineation specifying how close the mat’s leading edge can be to the ditch’s edge and the farthest distance where the jack can be placed at the other end of the rink.
  2. Back Bowl: A bowl that comes to rest beyond the jack after its motion.
  3. Backhand: A technique for right-handed players involving a curve from left to right in the delivery of the bowl toward the target.
  4. Bank: The raised boundary encircling the green, marking the outer limits of the ditch.
  5. Bias: The asymmetric shape of bowls, causing them to curve; identified by a smaller circular emblem indicating the biased side.
  6. Blocker: A deliberately lighter delivery aimed to impede an opponent’s shot or pathway.
  7. Bowling Arm: An aiding device for players who can’t perform the standard bowling stance, enabling them to deliver bowls while standing.
  8. Bowls: A set of four identical bowls used by a player.
  9. Centre Line: A line marking the central positioning of both the jack and the mat at each end of the rink.
  10. Chalk: A marking tool to indicate a bowl’s contact with the jack during its initial roll, to be applied and removed as per rules.
  11. Coin Toss: The pre-game process to determine initial bowl delivery rights via a coin flip.
  12. Counter: Any bowl contributing to a team’s score at the end of an end.
  13. Cover That Bowl: Directing a delivery to land between the jack and a specific bowl.
  14. Dead Bowl: A bowl that ends up in the ditch without touching the jack or lies outside the active play area.
  15. Declare the Head: A player’s decision not to deliver their final bowl to avoid unfavorably altering the head’s state.
  16. Ditch: The shallow trench around the green marking its boundary.
  17. Ditch Weight: The necessary force behind a bowl’s delivery to reach the ditch without entering it.
  18. Do Not Be Short: Encouragement to ensure a delivery reaches its target without falling short.
  19. Down: Being behind in the count of closest bowls to the jack.
  20. Draw Shot: A precise roll aimed at reaching the jack or a specific spot without disturbing existing bowls.
  21. Drive: A forceful delivery intended to disrupt the head or remove specific bowls.
  22. Either Hand: The option for a bowler to choose between forehand or backhand delivery.
  23. End: Completion of a sequence of play in one direction on the rink, with a game comprising multiple ends.
  24. Foot Fault: A violation occurring when a player’s foot isn’t correctly positioned during release.
  25. Give Away the Mat: The tactical choice to start the game by delivering the first bowl or allowing the opponent to do so.
  26. Grass: The intended delivery line, considering the bowl’s bias.
  27. Head: The collection of bowls and the jack during an end.
  28. Hog Line: Markers indicating the minimum jack distance for a valid end.
  29. Jack: The target ball rolled down the rink to set the target.
  30. Jack High: When a bowl’s front edge is level with the jack’s front edge.
  31. Lead: The first player to bowl in an end, responsible for placing the mat and rolling the jack if their team starts.
  32. Mat: The launching pad for all bowls during an end.
  33. Narrow Shot: A delivery lacking lateral distance.
  34. Plinth: The ditch’s inner wall.
  35. Possession: The right to bowl, transferring after a bowl stops.
  36. Promoting A Bowl: Nudging a teammate’s bowl to a better position.
  37. Re-Spot: Replacing the jack if displaced out of bounds.
  38. Rink: The play area bounded by the ditch.
  39. Second: The player following the lead in a team of three or more.
  40. Short Jack: A jack rolled to the minimum distance from the mat.
  41. Skip: The team captain in games of four.

Etiquette at Calgary Lawn Bowling Club

Etiquette is essential for ensuring that the game remains enjoyable for everyone involved. Here are some guidelines, particularly helpful for beginner bowlers:

Good Sportsmanship:

  • Begin and end each game with a handshake.
  • Refrain from distracting your opponent while they’re on the mat preparing to bowl.
  • Appreciate good shots, whether they’re made by your opponent or your own team.
  • Gracefully acknowledge fortunate shots made by either team.
  • Avoid thanking opponents for unintended results that favor you.
  • Resist the urge to verbally influence bowls to achieve desired outcomes.

Green Preservation:

  • Treat the green with care by not bouncing bowls and maintaining proper delivery posture.
  • Always wear appropriate footwear when on the green.
  • Minimize time away from the green during the game.
  • Stay within your designated rink boundaries.
  • Hand bowls to each other conveniently.
  • Return mats and jacks to storage after the game.

Where to Stand:

  • Stay behind the mat or the head when it’s not your turn to bowl.
  • Move behind the mat once your bowl comes to rest, as the possession of the rink shifts to your opponent.
  • Avoid obstructing your opponent’s view of the bowl’s path.
  • Stand still if you’re in the line of vision of a player on the mat.
  • Don’t block boundary pegs or rink markers.

Handling Wins and Losses:

  • Support your team members regardless of the outcome.
  • If you’re the skip, refrain from commenting on a player’s bad bowl; mistakes happen to everyone.
  • Be gracious whether you win or lose; both are part of the game.
  • Embrace the game and always strive to do your best.

Know and Respect the Rules:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Laws of the Sport of Bowls.
  • Always accept and respect decisions made by officials.

Check your grip!

Ensure your grip is on point! Mastering the grip is fundamental in perfecting your delivery. The way you hold the bowl can significantly influence the smoothness of your release, whether it’s a precise delivery, a gentle dump, or a strategic loft. Don’t underestimate the importance of this basic skill. Take a moment to evaluate your grip and consider if there’s a more effective or dependable way to hold your bowl.

How do you prepare to deliver a bowl? Evaluate your setup on the mat

Preparing to deliver a bowl may not always be top of mind amidst the flurry of considerations on the green. Questions about bias, shot calls, and weight selection often dominate. However, taking a moment to assess your stance and approach can significantly impact the fluidity and accuracy of your delivery. It’s about achieving balance, aligning your body with your intended line, and establishing a reliable routine that becomes second nature during competition.

Review how you move and finish your delivery

Reviewing your movement and final delivery in lawn bowls involves paying attention to crucial elements, from your initial stance to your release and the follow-through that propels the bowl towards your target. Although it might seem straightforward, many find it challenging to execute smoothly. Watching this video can help you understand the intricate components of the delivery process, highlighting the complexities involved in transitioning from stance to release and achieving an effective follow-through.

Now that your delivery is perfect, how do I actually get my bowl to where I want it?

Unlocking the secret behind transitioning from a proficient delivery to a skillfully played bowl remains a puzzle in the world of lawn bowls. How does one determine the ideal line to reach the target? How do you gauge the precise weight required to land the bowl in a specific spot on the green? Whether you’re a player seeking answers or a coach assisting a player in their quest, these questions persistently arise. It’s a challenging task, but the video below endeavors to provide a methodology for seamlessly integrating a perfected delivery into action, ensuring both accurate line and weight.

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