The UK Rules

Bowls Rules and Regulations

The same laws of the sport of bowls apply to indoor or outdoor lawn bowls rules. This guide explains flat green bowling and crown green bowls rules.

BOWLS RULES: The history of world bowls rules stretches back to the 13th century period.

The 'Southampton Old Bowling Green' is likely to be the original. We understand it to be the world’s oldest surviving bowling green as it dates back to 1299.

Bowling has a coloured history among British monarchs. In fact, they banned early versions of the game. They feared the sport may interfere with the archery practice of their troops.

William Wallace Mitchell was a Glasgow cotton merchant. He's accredited with inventing the basis of the rules of the game of bowls as we know it today. He published the first set of bowls rules, called the 'Manual of Bowls Playing', in 1864.

The home of the modern bowling game currently remains in Scotland. The World Indoor Bowls Rules Center has its home in its capital Edinburgh.

As you might expect, the sport of bowls - also known as lawn bowls rules and regulations - is a game of bowling. But you may not realize that there are several different formats in the sport.

Competitors play English Bowling Association rules of lawn bowls UK events outside. Even so, EBA regulations still adhere to the same set of simple indoor rules of bowls and guidelines as the indoor format.

Basic Rules of Playing BowlsRules of Bowls

Aim of the Game Bowls

Objectively, the game has one simple aim. That is to roll your bowls and stop them as close as possible to the 'jack'.

Crown Green Bowls Rules Played in the United KingdomThere is one overriding tactical challenge in the game. Spherical shaped bowls do not travel in a straight line when bowled.

Players use several different bowling tactics. They try to ensure that at least one bowl stops closer to the jack than any of their opponent's bowls.

Bowls Playing Pitches

Bowlers play indoors as well as outdoors. It takes place on level grass or artificial surfaces. The bowling rules are the same for both formats.

The typical playing surface for flat green bowls rules is a flat pitch. But the crown green bowls rules would get played on convex pitches (with slight curves). These are sometimes called 'greens'.

Bowls Rules and Regulations for Equipment

Bowls Players and Bowlers

Bowling greens often get divided into individual 'rinks'. That means games can get played in different formats at the same time. Bowls player formats include:

General Bowls Regulations

Bowls Rules and Scoring Regulations

At the end of a round one point gets awarded to the player (or team) whose bowl is closest to the jack. Similarly, a corresponding number of points will get awarded if a player (or team) has more than one bowl closer to the jack than their opponents.

Scoring systems vary for different competitions. But in traditional bowls competitions the winner is the first player to reach 21 points. Some formats play to the highest scorer after 18 or 21 ends.

Bowls Umpires and Officials

An umpire must get appointed on behalf of the controlling body for the competition. Indoor bowls rules and regulations for umpires and their duties include:

Before the Game Starts

The umpire should make sure all bowls have a clear visible and valid World Bowls Stamp imprinted on them. Check the rink of play is the correct width and in line with lawn bowling law 49.1. Achieve this by checking the measurements of all rinks on a green.

During the Game

Winning a Game of Bowls

Competition rules in bowls vary. But, winning the game in bowls is most often the first player or team to reach 21 points. Another method for winning is to have accumulated the greater number of points after 18 or 21 ends.

Players often play 'sets' whereby the first to score seven points (for example) wins a set. The overall winner would be the first to five sets (or an agreed number).

Advanced Lawn Bowling Rules


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WBA Official Bowls Rulebook PDF: [Free Download Option]

Lawn Bowls Rules: Simple Bowling Regulations Played in the United Kingdom