It doesn’t matter if you’ve only ever watched a game of bowls, or if you know nothing about it – indoor bowls is a really simple and enjoyable game to get into. Some of the benefits of indoor bowls include its sociability (it’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends), as well as the fact it’s suitable for people of all ages and abilities – including those who are partially sighted or in a wheelchair. Please note that casual bowls is not available on all breaks.
If you’re new to the game and want to find out more about it, keep on reading. We’ll discuss how indoor bowls is played, the rules of the game, as well as some extra tips and tactics you can employ.
What is it and what to expect
Indoor bowls is a game played with two teams and two types of ball (bowls). The aim of the game is to get your ball as close as possible to the jack (the small white ball). If you’ve ever played lawn bowls, the indoor version follows similar rules – with the main difference being the location of play. Although it sounds straightforward, ensuring the bowl stops near to the jack can be tricky as bowls do not travel in a straight line – it’s definitely a tactical game.
Top tips and basic techniques
The rules for indoor bowls are simple:
- Players must keep one foot on the mat when bowling
- The jack must travel a minimum of 23 metres without going over the rink boundaries
- Bowls that land in the ditch are considered out of the game, unless they touch the jack before coming to a stop – in which case they are considered ‘alive’ and can still be played
- If the jack goes over the rink boundaries, it is replayed
- If the jack lands in the ditch it remains in play
- In singles and pairs games, each player bowls four times per end; for teams of three, each player gets three bowls; teams of four get two bowls per end
- Draw shot. With this delivery, players concentrate on aiming the bowl to land in a specific location on the rink, without coming into contact with the other bowls already played. Right-handed bowlers aim the bowl to the right side of the jack so it curves towards the left – this is known as a forehand draw. A backhand draw can also be delivered, which happens when a bowler aims the bowl to the left of the jack so it curves towards the right
- The drive. Players use considerable force to deliver the bowl in order to move the jack or the bowl closest to the jack out of play
- Upshot or yard on. Similar to the drive, this method aims to move the jack or other bowls without bringing the game to an end
- If you’re playing short - you can lengthen your delivery by increasing the speed you bowl. Try swinging your arm back a bit further to put more weight behind the bowl
- If you’re playing too heavy - you can reduce the length of your delivery by moving more slowly. This will ensure there is less weight behind the bowl so it won’t travel as far
- If you’re playing too wide - try keeping the shoulder of the bowl straight (the bias) and don’t step out to the side as far – that way the bowl will naturally curve around to where you want it to end
- If you’re playing too narrow - again, keep an eye on the shoulder of the bowl and the amount you turn your body. Try to turn your entire body for a more accurate delivery