Rules of Bowls

Which player or team to bowl first is decided by the toss of a coin, after which the first bowler (the lead) places his/her mat and rolls the jack down the green.

The jack must travel at least 23 metres to be “in play” and is moved to the centre of the rink once it comes to rest.

The players then take turns to bowl, with points being scored by each bowl that is closer to the jack than the opponent’s closest bowl.

Upon completion of an end, play recommences in the opposite direction (i.e. from the end at which the jack previously rested).

Bowls that fall into the ditch are disregarded, however close the jack may be to the ditch, unless they happen to touch the jack before going into the ditch. In that case they are still classified as in play.

If the jack is knocked into the ditch though within the side boundaries of the rink it is still “alive” and in play. If it passes over the side boundary of the rink (whether in the ditch or not) a “dead end” is declared and the end is replayed with no scores being counted.

It is permissible – and often quite amusing! – to strike other players’ bowls with your own with the aim of gaining a strategic advantage.

The Official Rules of Bowls from



Laws of the Sport of Bowls – Crystal Mark Third Edition (Version 3.2)

Laws of the Sport of Bowls – Crystal Mark Third Edition

Version 3.2 – June 2020

Click to view or download

Contact Us

Please contact us to find out more or to arrange a visit to the club.

Capital Ring,
Lyttelton Playing Fields (off Norrice Lea),
London N2 0RE

020 8058 2212

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