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Bowllng glossary



  • The Bowls – a set of four identical woods or bowls manufactured within strictly controlled specifications, it is essential that all bowlers make a correct choice of bowls, which they can use with the greatest ease and comfort.  There are few wooden bowls manufactured today, the modern ingredients being processed are powdered plastic.  The object of the manufacturers is to produce, under strictly controlled specifications, four identical bowls regarding their shape, size and weight.  Most bowls are black or brown although other colours are being introduced.  The size is determined by its greatest diameter measure through its running surface, ranging from 4 9/16ins (116mm) 50 5 1/8ins (132mm). Weights are between Medium and Heavy, but no bowl must exceed 3 1/2lbs or 1.6k
  • Bias - That which is built into the bowl, which causes the bowl to travel in a curve.
  • Forehand - When for the right-handed player the bowl is delivered so that the curve of the bowl is from right to left  towards its objective (vice-versa for left-handed players)
  • Backhand - When for the right-handed player the bowl is delivered so that the curve of the bowl is from left to right   towards its objective (vice-versa for left-handed players
  • Stance -  The position adopted by the player on the mat prior to delivery.
  • Delivery – The moment the bowl leaves the hand.
  • Follow Through – What should be the natural forward movement of the delivery arm following the line or path of the bowl.
  • Shoulder of the green – That point on the green where the bowl begins to curve inward towards its objective.
  • Foot fault – One foot must be on or above the mat at the moment of delivery or the player may incur a penalty
  • The mat – The bowler must make his delivery from the mat (the size of the mat is laid down in the rules).
  • Using the mat – Movement of the mat (within the limits of the rules) for the purposes of lengthening or shortening the length of the jack.
  •  Long jack – Near to or the greatest distance allowed from the front of the mat to the jack
  • Short jack – Near to or the shortest distance allowed from the front of the mat to the jack.
  • The green – The total playing surface, the measurements of which are laid down in the rules
  • Fast green – Usually a dry and closely cut surface that offers little resistance to the progress of the bowl so that it takes a longer time to reach its objective
  • Slow or Heavy – Where the surface offers greater green resistance to the progress of the bowl, but where the bowl will usually take a shorter time to reach its objective
  • Taking the green or land – Using either the forehand or the backhand, the bowler bowls to the shoulder so that the bowl will curve and come to rest as near as possible to the point desired
  • Ditch – The green is surrounded by a depression whose edge marks the boundary of the playing surface. Measurements of the ditch need to conform to the laws of the game
  • Bank – the outer wall of the ditch which surrounds the green, which is above the playing surface
  • Rink – A rectangular area of the green not more than 19ft or less than 16ft wide on which play takes place.
  •  Centre line – An imaginary line that runs lengthwise down the centre of the rink.
  • Jack or Kitty – The round white/yellow ball towards which the play is directed, the size of the Jack must conform to the rules
  • Pace or Weight – The amount of effort with which the bowl is delivered to execute a particular shot
  • Draw – The path the bowl will travel to reach its objective
  • Draw the shot – A bowl delivered at the correct pace or weight and with the correct green or land, to arrive at its objective
  • Push and rest – The bowling of a bowl with sufficient pace or weight so that it pushes the target bowl from its original position so that the last bowl delivered takes up that position
  • Trail the Jack – A bowl played in order to move the jack to another position on the rink.
  • Rub off – A bowl which during its running course comes into light contact with another so that the line of direction can be affected
  • Wick off – A bowl travelling at a certain pace being able to play a certain shot, which comes into angled contact with another bowl so that the moving bowl is intentionally altered
  • Wooded / Wrecked – An attempted shot being frustrated by contact with another bowl which lay between the mat and the jack
  • Block or stopper – A wood delivered with enough pace to stop short of the objective, in the hope that it will prevent an opponent being able to play a certain shot
  • Split these bowls – A request to the bowler to deliver a bowl of sufficient pace that it forces apart other bowls but has enough momentum to carry on beyond that point
  • Fire or drive – There are various reasons for playing such a shot, but it is a shot that is delivered at a very fast pace
  • Toucher on the green – A bowl which during its original course has touched the jack. A bowl which has come to rest and falls over to touch the jack before the next bowl is delivered. A bowl if it is delivered, falls and touches the jack within a period of 30 second
  • Toucher in the ditch – A toucher, as above, which has fallen in to the ditch shall be a “live bowl”, but not if it comes to rest outside the confines of the rink
  • The shot – The bowl that finishes nearest the jack at any stage of play
  • Second bowl – The bowl which finishes closest to the jack other than the shot bowl
  • The head – The jack and as many bowls as have been played at any stage of any end, bowls in the head may be on the rink or in the ditch
  • End – The sequence of play beginning with the placing of the mat and ending with the coming to rest of the last player’s bowl, after all have delivered their bowls in the same direction
  • Narrow bowl – Where a player has not allowed enough green or land, but a shot that sometimes can be played intentionall
  • Wide bowl – Where a player has allowed too much green or land for their bowl
  • Short bowl – Where a bowl has not been delivered with sufficient pace to reach its objective
  • Heavy bowl – Where a bowl has been delivered with too much pace and will end beyond its objective
  • Jack high bowl – A bowl which when it comes to rest is at the same distance from the mat as the jack
  • Back bowl – A bowl which come to rest beyond the jack or main body of bowls in the head
  • Dead bowl – A bowl which comes to rest in the ditch, or not being a toucher, is knocked into the ditch, or a bowl that comes to rest outside the confines of the rink, either in its original course of travel to by being subsequently knocked there
  • Live bowl – Any bowl which comes to rest within the confines of the rink and allowing for conditions as laid down by the laws of the game, any toucher in the ditch
  • Counter – Any bowl which contributes to the score at the completion of the end
  • Dead end – A end which is considered not to have played and no score is recorded, it can happen as a result of the jack being driven outside the confines of the playing area
  • Open it up – A request for a bowl delivered with enough pace to clear any obstruction in the way of bowls that are between the player and the jack
  • Take it out – Instructions that mean a bowler to bowl with sufficient pace to push opponents bowls away
  • Promote this bowl – A request that a bowler plays his bowl onto a bowl belonging to his own team so that the bowl that was stationary is pushed nearer the objective
  • A plant shot – Where a player bowls his bowl  to strike other bowls which could be in line, and thus gain his objective
  • Cover that bowl – An instruction to a bowler to bowl in such a way that it finishes between the jack and the bowl indicated.
  • Mark it or chalk it – The marking of a toucher with chalk
  • Measure – a device used to determine which bowl is nearest to the jack
  • Measuring – The process of determining which bowl is nearest the jack
  • Penalty – A penalty may be awarded by the umpire where , for example, a player has foot faulted in delivering their bowl and the umpire could declare the bowl to be dead
  • A side or team – Any agreed number of players whose combined scores determine the result of a match
  • A rink of players or fours – A group of four players against four, each bowling two bowls. Their positions in order of playing to be, Lead, Second, Third and Skip
  • Triples – Three players against three, each player using three bowls. Players in order of play Lead, Second and Skip.
  • Pairs – Two players against two each are using 4 bowls. Players in order of play Lead and Skip
  • Singles – One player against one player, each is using four bowls
  • The Lead – Is the player who lays the mat, rolls the jack and delivers the first bowl in an end, may sometimes toss a coin at the beginning of the game to determine which team has the right to start play
  • The Second or number two - The player who plays after the Lead in a game of Triples or Fours.keep the score board up to date
  • The Third – in the game of Fours he will deputize for the Skip in certain circumstances and could be responsible for measuring
  • The Skip – Captains the Fours, Triples and Pairs, is the last to bowl and is responsible for marking the card and dictating the tactics of the game
  • The Marker – A person, who in a game of Singles undertakes to see that the game is played according to the rules, will mark all touchers, centre the jack, and measure as well as keeping the score. During the playing of ends it is advisable not to talk to the players unless asked a direct question
  • The Umpire – The person with total and overall authority during any game as to the enforcement of the laws of the game.
  • The Scorer – In a match between teams or sides, is responsible for keeping the current scores on the master score board.
  • Tied end – It sometimes happens that the nearest bowls of both teams are exactly the distance from the jack at the completion of the end e.g. when both have a bowl actually touching the jack. Neither side scores but it is a completed end and is entered on the scorecard with no score to both sides.