How To Play Bowls for Beginners!


Summer is upon us and it’s the perfect weather to get out with friends and try some lawn bowls, but what’s it all about and how do you play?

Barefoot bowls is a way to encourage younger people to try out lawn bowling and to reinvigorate struggling bowls clubs.  But what if you are new to the game or just want to learn some bowls lingo to sound like you’re an old hand?

Bowls Australia National Training Centre coach Brett Wilkie knows a thing or two about lawn bowls. Brett started playing when he was 11 and has won several national and international lawn bowls awards. If you’ve never bowled before or want to go back to basics, here are Brett’s handy notes on what it is all about.

The basics of lawn bowls

  • Rink – Is the area in which play takes place, usually a flat, grassed area, bounded by boundary pegs.
  • Centre line –  the line down the centre of the rink
  • Jack – small white ball, rolled out along the centreline, the idea is to get bowls as close as possible to it
  • Bowls – the balls used by the player, up to four each, weighted on one side causing it to curve as it rolls
  • Mat – placed on the centre line, players stand on it to bowl

The bowling

  • Stand on the mat, feet together, knees and waist bent slightly
  • Take ball in your preferred hand (right or left)
  • Step out with your opposite foot (left or right)
  • Take a small back swing
  • Bend down and roll bowl along the ground
  • Roll it out at an angle, so the bowl curves back towards jack
  • Avoid dropping or bouncing bowl so as not to damage green


  • The player who has their bowl or bowls closest to the jack wins
  • Points are awarded according to the number of bowls closest
  • Players judge the distance and number by eye
  • If in dispute, a measuring tape is employed

So get out there, keep it friendly and enjoy!


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