How to Play Indoor Bowls


Bowls is a game in which players roll a set number of balls from one side of a pitch to another, trying to get them as close as possible to the target ball, called the jack. The game is played outside, but indoor bowls allows bowls enthusiasts to play their sport from the comfort of a sports hall or club. With the same rules as outdoor bowls, it provides players the opportunity to move indoors during the winter months. The game is played on green strips, which are similar in texture to the lawns used in outdoor bowls.

  • Toss a coin to determine the first player. Once he has been chosen, he rolls the jack --- or the small white ball --- to the other end of the green.

  • Move the jack to the center of the green once it has stopped moving. Keep it at the same distance that it was rolled. It must have traveled at least 23 meters --- or about 75.5 feet; otherwise, the player has to roll it again. This becomes the target for the other bowls.

  • Have all the players bowl. Any bowl that rolls into the ditch at the end of the rink is a "dead" ball and will not count for any points unless it has touched the jack before reaching the ditch. If it touches the jack, it's still in play.

  • Count the number of points each player or team has won. A player gets a point for every bowl that is closer to the jack than his opponent's.

  • Continue the game in the other direction and keep alternating the direction to rack up points. The game is usually played until a team or player reaches 21 points.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use your bowl to knock opponent's bowls out of the way to prevent them being closest to the jack.
  • Although the 21 scoring system is most common, you can also play 18 ends or three sets of 9 ends.

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  • Photo Credit Bowls 01 image by Paul Herbert from
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