The basics rules of lawn bowls are easy to grasp, but once you go beyond that there is a lot to learn and understand. This section of the website provides help, advice and resources to learn the rules of lawn bowls in more depth.

Of course, given the history of the sport, they aren’t officially called rules – instead they’re called laws. So read on to find out more about the laws of lawn bowls.

Basic Rules

As mentioned above, the basic rules of the sport are very simple: Get your bowl closer to the jack than your opponents.

In its simplest terms, a game of bowls follows this sequence:

  1. A coin is tossed to decide who will place the mat, roll the jack and bowl first.
  2. After the winner has bowled their first bowl, their opponent bowls their first bowl.
  3. The two players alternate until they have both bowled all of their bowls.
  4. The player with the closest bowl to the jack scores one point for each of their bowls that is closer than their opponents nearest bowl.
  5. The first ‘end’ has now been completed. The bowler who won that end now places the mat, rolls the jack back to the other end of the green, and bowls their first bowl.

To help keep score, we recommend the rollUp Lawn Bowls App.

Ending a game of lawn bowls

A game of bowls can end in a number of ways:

  1. After a pre-agreed number of ends.
  2. When one player reaches a pre-agreed number of points.
  3. At a pre-agreed time.

Formats of Bowls

Bowls can be played in any number of configurations. In most professional competitions you will find a mix of

  • Singles – Usually 4 bowls per players.
  • Pairs – Usually 3 bowls per player.
  • Triples – Usually 2 bowls per player.
  • Fours – Usually 2 bowls per player.

Lawn Bowls Rulebook

The laws of lawn bowls are maintained by World Bowls. The current version of the laws is version 3.2, you can download a PDF version of the laws here. If you’re interested in how the laws are decided on, there is an explanation on the World Bowls website.

For those who want the rules handy at all times, you can purchase a handbook with all of the rules of the sport from Bowls Australia.


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