Grand Prix Bowls – Rules and Playing Conditions.

Beginner’s guide to bowls

Bowls Basics 1

Bowls Basics 1

The aim of the game is simple. Get your bowls as close as possible to a small yellow ball called the ‘jack’.

It might sound easy, but the fact that the bowls do not travel in a straight line seriously adds to the tactical challenge.

Bowls can be played indoors or outdoors, and the rules are the same.


All the action takes place on a standard bowling green, which is a flat square 34-40m long. This is divided into six playing areas called rinks.

After a coin toss, the first bowler places the mat and rolls the jack to the other end of the green as a target.

The jack must travel at least 23m and, when it comes to rest, it is moved across to the centre of the rink.

The players then take turns to bowl.

When all the bowls have been played, a competitor gets one point for each of their bowls that is closer to the jack than the opponent’s closest bowl.

After all the bowls have been delivered, the direction of play is reversed. This is the end of an end!


Scoring systems vary for different competitions.

The matches at the Super8serieS are the best of three sets, the first 2 sets consisting of 7 ends.

Please see rules for more details.


Bowls Basics 2

Bowls Basics 2

The bowls are not quite round. They are shaved on one side which gives them the bias.

As the bowl slows, it begins to roll in the direction of the bias.

Bowlers will therefore change the side of the bias, depending on the direction in which they want the bowl to curve.

The challenge of all shots is to be able to adjust line and length accordingly.

The faster the delivery, the smaller the curve.


Bowls reaching the ditch are removed from play.

However, if they touch the jack before heading into the ditch they remain ‘alive’ and in play.

If the jack is knocked into the ditch it remains ‘alive’ or if it is out of bounds to the side of the rink then.

Source: BBC Sport website