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 M & N


A mat is a portable piece of synthetic surface, 600 mm by 360 mm (twenty-four inches by fourteen inches) and is used as a base from which to bowl.  Bowlers must have at least one foot on or over the mat before and at the time of delivery or they may be charged with a foot fault.

Mat Control:

When a delivered bowl comes to rest the next bowler takes control of the mat.  Team members should only send signals to other team members when they have control of the mat.  Players retain control of the mat until their delivered bowl comes to rest.

Mat Control
Mat Line:

The mat line is the edge of the mat, which is closest to the forward ditch.  The centre of the mat line is the location from which all measures to the jack or bowls are taken.

Mat Line
Mat Protocol:

While waiting for your turn to bowl you should pick up one of your bowls from the starting position, step ahead, remain behind and to the right of the player with control of the mat, and remain still and silent.  When the bowl that a player has delivered comes to rest they should leave the mat stepping to the left and towards the ditch.  The player taking control of the mat should approach from the right.  This counterclockwise action continues until all players have delivered all their bowls.

Mat Protocol
Matching Bowls:

If a team is handily winning a game they may choose to play the final two ends cautiously by attempting to duplicate the shots made by the opposition.  This is known as matching bowls.  The aim is to prevent the opposition from making a large score in any of these ends.  In the illustration, note that for every long bowl of one team there is a matching one for the other team.

Matching Bowls

Several types of measures can be employed during games of lawn bowling.  To determine which bowls will count after all bowls of an end have come to rest a six–foot or nine–foot measure can be used. These measures simply compare lengths and do not have actual metric or imperial dimensions on them.  For bowls further from the jack a more standard tape measure can be employed.  A length of butcher twine with knots exactly twenty-one metres apart can be used to ensure that delivered jacks are at least the minimum distance from the front of the mat.


The act of using a tape to determine which of two or more bowls is closest to the jack is known as measuring.  It is important to position yourself between the jack and the bowl for each measure.

Narrow Bowl:

A bowl that crosses in front or behind the jack before coming to rest is known as a narrow bowl.

Narrow Bowl
Normal Grass Line:

The imaginary line along which a bowl is delivered to bring it back to the centre line of the rink is known as the normal grass line.  Each set of bowls has its own normal grass line.  (See the sections on aiming line and draw line.)

Normal Grass Line
Back to Top