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The terms and vocabulary associated with lawn bowling can be confusing to novices. The following set of terms is by no means exhaustive, but is provided as clarification to new bowlers who wish to understand and take part in the conversations of the more experienced. Terms, discussions, and photographs are offered as guides. Please submit additional vocabulary, definitions and pictures, which you believe would be helpful.

Terms & Vocabulary Beginning with "C"


Calipers can be employed to measure short distances between competing bowls and the jack.  At times distances are too short to actually fit the measuring tape in the available space.  Most measures come with a built-in set of calipers.


One method of moving bowls from a storage bag to the bowling green is a bowl carry.  A carry eases the transfer of bowls to the playing surface so that bowls are not dropped from the bank to the starting position.  Dropped bowls can damage the playing surface by creating dents. A carry is sometimes called a sling.

Centre Line:

The centre line is an imaginary line, which runs between the rink numbers at either end of the rink.  This imaginary line also runs through the middle of the mat and the jack at the beginning of each end.

Centre Line
Centring the Jack:

When the jack has been rolled down the rink by one of the leads and has come to rest within the rink, at least twenty-one (21) metres from the mat, and short of the mat line at the opposite end of the rink it must be centred.  A skip will move the jack to the approximate centre line and make adjustments based upon signals made by the lead that delivered the jack.

Centring the Jack

Chalk is a useful multipurpose tool used in lawn bowling.  Aside from helping to keep score on the scoreboard, it can be used to mark bowls that have touched the jack during delivery.  It is also employed to mark the original position of a centred jack, helping with the centring of future rolled jacks later in a game.  Following the initial placement of the mat a mat line can be drawn across in chalk, aiding subsequent leads in centring the mat.

Claw Grip:

A player, who firmly holds a bowl in the hand during delivery is said to be using a claw grip.  In the illustration the thumb is placed close to the upper surface of the bowl while the fingers are placed opposite.  The small dimples, which are formed in circular rings on the surface of some designs of bowls, facilitate a claw grip.  This grip is the choice of players firing take out shots or shots of longer distances, which require greater speed and must be made with a larger pendulum arc. Notice that the player is using the built-in dimples of the bowl with this claw grip.

Claw Grip

Some skips use a small clipboard to house their scorecards.  This clipboard not only provides a rigid backing for writing on the scorecard, but can also incorporate a place to insert a pencil or pen.  In the illustration the clipboard is attached to a small case where things such as additional pencils, wedges, an eraser, chalk, and a measure can be stowed.


Many bowlers use a small cloth or towel to prepare their bowls for delivery.  This cloth is used to remove any moisture, dust, dirt, or other foreign matter from a bowl, which may affect the delivery of the bowl.  Dust may make the bowl more difficult to grip whereas rough spots may cause bowls to roll unevenly.  Cloths can also come in handy to temporarily store counting bowls when a score is determined at the completion of an end.

Coin Toss:

One way of deciding which of the two teams playing a match will throw the initial jack is to toss a coin.  The skip not tossing the coin calls out Heads or Tails.  The winning skip of the coin toss decides whether they want their lead to throw the jack or to have the opposing team’s lead throw the jack.  (The team that throws the jack also delivers the first bowl, thus their opponent’s skip will deliver the final bowl of the end.) 

Coin Toss
Colliding Bowls:

If two bowls from adjacent rinks collide during their delivery, the skips or vice skips of these rinks will halt the motion of the bowls before they interact with other bowls or the jacks.  The colliding bowls will be returned to the players who delivered the bowls and they will attempt to make the shots once again taking care to avoid a simultaneous delivery with the other bowler.

Colliding Bowls
Counted Bowls:

When a measure is required to determine the distances from the jack of opposing bowls beyond the “shot bowl” all bowls, which have been counted are place on a cloth a short distance away in the head so that measures can be made more easily.

Counted Bowls

When the jack or a bowl is guarded closely by at least one bowl between it and the mat, it is said to be covered. In the illustration the jack is covered by the red bowl, which in turn is covered by the blue bowl.


Bowls can be kept in woolen covers during transport and while in storage.  Covers help to protect bowls from unnecessary knocking against one another. 

Cradle Grip:

A player who gently supports a bowl in the hand during delivery is said to be using a cradle grip.  In the illustration the thumb and fingers of the hand are placed to the side and lower surfaces of the bowl.  Some players to make shorter draw shots, which do not require as much speed and can be made with a smaller pendulum arc, use this grip.  This grip is also used by players using larger bowls than can be easily gripped with their fingers.

Craddle Grip

When three players are left after a regular draw from the draw containers, a game can be played with each acting as an individual. This game is known as cutthroat. Each player delivers four bowls. Ten points are awarded each end. The bowl closest to the jack gets four points. The second closest get three points. The third closest gets two points. While the fourth closest receives one point. Other bowls do not score. A player can receive any number of points from zero to ten. Players keep their own scores. In the illustration each of the two scoring players receives five points while the third player gets zero.

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