Terms Header
Terms Face
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 F through H

Firing a Shot:

The delivery of a take out bowl is known as firing a shot.  The player must adjust the aim line closer to the target as the curved caused by the natural bias of a bowl does not take full effect until the bowl begins to slow its motion.  A firing shot is a faster and heavier shot, thus the delivery should include the raising of the hand higher in both the forward and reverse portions of the pendulum swing, taking a longer forward step, and the release point being slightly forward of the usual position.

Firing a Shot

As a bowler completes the delivery of a bowl the pendulum action should be completed with straight upward action along the line of aim, which could be described as reaching out to shake someone hand or reaching for the sky.

Follow Through
Foot Fault:

If a player fails to keep at least one foot on or over the mat before and while delivering a bowl then a foot fault will be declared by the umpire and the bowl will not count and will be stopped by the skip or vice skip before it enters the head and has any interaction with either the jack or other bowls.

Foot Fault
Foot Placement:

When preparing to deliver, bowlers should start their feet pointing along the chosen aiming line.  At least one foot needs to be on the mat as bowlers begin to deliver a bowl.  Players can step forward while delivering the bowl, but keep at least one foot on or over the mat when the bowl is released.

Foot Placement

A forehand shot is a bowl delivered off the right side of the mat (if you are right handed) and off the left side of the mat (if you are left handed.)  The smaller symbol on the bowl will be facing towards the player’s body and the jack in a forehand delivery.


A game with teams of four against four is called fours.  Each person uses two bowls, for a total of eight bowls per team, sixteen bowls per end.  The names of the players are lead, second, third (or vice skip), and skip.  In the illustration the eight bowls for the two teams have been separated at either side of the rink number prior to the first end so that players will be able get to know their team’s bowls.


Some players choose to wear a sports glove to aid in gripping bowls especially during wet or slippery conditions.  The glove is only worn on the hand that delivers the bowl.


The distance that the imaginary aim point is to the left or right of the jack is called the amount of grass you plan to take in your delivery.  The grass taken allows the natural bias of a bowl to bring it to rest near the jack.  In the photograph the imaginary aim point is shown in yellow.


The playing surface for lawn bowls is called the green.  It is normally 36.5 metres by 36.5 metres, divided into eight rinks at most.


The person who is responsible for maintaining the playing surface and bank area of a bowling green is known as a greenskeeper.  In the photograph the greenskeeper is working with a roller to help to flatten the surface of the green.  The roller is operated both north to south and east to west.


The way in which a player holds a bowl during delivery is know as the grip.  The two most popular grips are the claw and cradle grips.


A guard is usually a tight bowl or short bowl positioned to obstruct the opponent from making a shot.  However, often this type of bowl can be an obstacle for your team as well.  It is also called a block or blocker.  The red bowls in the example shown are acting as guards to prevent a drive shot from removing the blue bowl next to the jack.


The skip that will deliver last bowl during an end is said to have the hammer.   The advantage of having the hammer is that the skip has the choice of making the final draw shot that could come to rest closest to the jack without the opponent having an opportunity to remove it or to draw even closer.  Another option is to use the hammer to knock the opponent’s bowl(s) or the jack to rearrange the head and alter the final score for the end.


At both the beginning and end of a game all the players involved engage each other cordially by shaking hands with one another with the wish for “Good Bowling.”  An alternative is for players to “punch” fists lightly to avoid the possibility of crushing fingers from a firm grip or passing germs.


The end of the rink with the jack and all the delivered bowls that are in play is named the head.

Head Management:

Skips or vice skips are in control of the head when players from their teams are delivering bowls.  They need to be aware of potential collisions between delivered bowls by team members and players from adjacent rinks.  They should ask permission of skips or vice skips of adjacent rinks to temporarily lift bowls at rest to avoid such collisions.  If two bowls collide while still in motion the skips or vice skips should prevent additional collisions by halting the motion of these bowls.  They should similarly halt the motion of bank shots before they interact with other bowls or the jack. They should ask the team member who delivered a bowl to determine whether or not a bowl has come to rest outside the rink’s boundary.

Head Management
Hidden Jack:

When a bowl comes to rest close to the jack and in line between the jack and the mat it is often difficult for a player to see the jack.  On such occasions the jack is said to be hidden.  It is the responsibility of the manager of the head (skip or vice skip) to signal the exact location of the jack to the player on the mat by holding an open hand or scorecard behind the jack.

Hidden Jack
Hog Line:

The Hog Line is an imaginary line 21 metres in front of the mat, which is the minimum distance a jack must be thrown in order to start an end. Yellow markers and white sticks with red pigs atop at the edges of the bowling green indicate the hog line given that a mat is placed 2 metres from the ditch. Advanced mat placement will result in a new hog line 21 metres from the front of the mat.

Hog Line
Back to Top