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Commonly Used Terms

Back Bowl – A bowl delivered to a position behind the jack and often intentionally placed there in case the jack is moved back. Same as a catcher.

Backhand – When the bowl is delivered along an aim line to the left of the target and draws to the right.

Bank – The outer wall of the ditch which is no less than nine inches above the surface of the green.

Be Up – A bowl delivered (or the instruction to deliver) to a distance at least equal or beyond the jack. Not short.

Bias – Manufactured weight and profile distribution that causes the bowl curve as it slows. Also: the amount of curvature for any given bowl, shot length and green conditions.

Blocker – A bowl delivered to a position in front of the jack and often intentionally placed there to protect the shot from the opponents subsequently delivered bowls.

Burnt End – The end is terminated when the Jack has been knocked out of rink bounds. The end is either scored zero–zero or replayed depending on the club or tournament rules in effect. Same as Dead End.

Cant – A bowl delivered slightly off axis to reduce the amount of bias. A wide drawing bowl can be delivered with a narrower bias using this method.

Catcher – A bowl delivered to a position behind the jack and often intentionally placed there in case the jack is moved back. Same as a back bowl.

Dead End – The end is terminated when the Jack has been knocked out of rink bounds. The end is either scored zero–zero or replayed depending on the club or tournament rules in effect. Same as Burnt End.

Dead Draw – a draw shot that finishes resting against the jack.

Draw – A bowl delivered with adequate weight and bias to bring it to the target, typically near the jack or head.

Drive – A bowl delivered with heavy weight so that a relatively strait line is held to the target. The target is typically the jack or an opponents bowl and the goal is to remove the target from the head or simply to disrupt the head. Also known as a firing shot.

Dead Bowl – A bowl that is delivered to or that is subsequently knocked outside of the boundaries of the rink or into the ditch. Bowls that were identified as touchers and that come to rest in the ditch or are subsequently knocked into the ditch but that are within the rink boundaries are NOT dead bowls.

Ditch – An trench constructed eight to fifteen inches wide and two to eight inches below the surface of the green trench between the green and the bank.

Down – The team that is not currently holding the bowl closest to the jack. Signaled by pointing the arm down or slapping the thigh a number of times equal to the number of points down in the current end.

End – When all bowls of each member of both teams have been played in the same direction. A game typically consists of twelve to eighteen ends.

Fives – A team of five players most frequently used for tournament play. The two opposing teams divide into sub-teams and use two rinks. They simultaneously play a pairs and a triples match followed (or proceeded) by a simultaneous singles and rinks match.

Foot Fault – The players foot must remain all or partially on or above the mat as the bowl is delivered.

Forehand – the bowl is delivered along an aim line to the right of the target and draws to the left.

Grass – The angle of delivery off of the center line required to allow the bowl to curve back to the target. Also called the line.

Green – The playing surface and constructed elements. Greens are approximately 120 feet square and can accommodate eight rinks oriented in either direction.

Hammer – The last bowl of each end. In club play the team that lost the previous end would take this advantage. Current, official rules allow the winning team to choose between taking the mat or the hammer.

Hand – The side of the centerline to which the bowl is delivered.

Head – The jack and collection of bowls that accumulate near it during the course of an end.

Heavy – A bowl delivered with too much weight that passes the target. Also called long.

Hog Line – The jack must be delivered to a position no less than 75 feet from the front of the mat. If the mat is at the mat line (6’6” from the rear ditch) then the minimum distance is the hog line which is marked on the side banks.

Holding Shot – The bowl nearest the jack at any time as the head is developed during the course of the end.

Hook – A sharper turn at the end of a given bowls path of travel. Some bowls are designed with a straighter finish or a hook and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Jack – A smaller white or yellow ball used as the target. Also known as the kitty.

Kitty – A smaller white or yellow ball used as the target. Also known as the jack.

Lead – The team member who delivers their bowls first during each end. The leads also sets the mat and jack and are responsible for raking.

Line – The angle of delivery off of the center line required to allow the bowl to curve back to the target. Also called the amount of grass.

Long – A bowl delivered with too much weight that passes the target. Also called heavy.

Mat – A 14’ by 24” mat that is used as the starting point for delivering the bowls. The term “having the mat” refers to being the team to set the jack and play first during any given end.

Measure – The scoring is frequently accomplished by simply looking at the head and determining which team’s bowls are closest. When bowls are too close to easily judge then a measuring device is used. Players typically carry a small, locking steel or string tape. Calipers or telescoping rods are also used. Vices normally do the measuring with the conceding taking the task. An umpire may be called if the vices can not agree.

Narrow – A bowl is delivered with insufficient grass which then swings past the target.

Novice – A bowler with less than two years of experience.

Pairs – Bowls games in which each team has a pair of players ( a Skip and a Lead)

PIMD – Pacific Intermountain Division of the USLBA

Potato– A bowl delivered off axis which wobbles through all or part of it’s path. Potatoes are typically short due to the energy lost.

Promote – A short bowl bushed up to the jack either intentionally by the players team or accidentally by an opposing player.

Rink – The lane on the grass court playing surface. Typically 14 feet wide and 120 feet long. Each Rink is defined by markers on the center and edges.

Rinks – A game in which there are 4 players per team a lead, vice, vice skip and skip. Each player delivers two bowls.

Running Shot – A bowl delivered with enough weight to land one or more yards past the target. The extra weight is used to displace the target bowl or jack completely from the head. The running shot is more than a yard-on but less than a drive.

Short – A bowl delivered with insufficient weight to reach the target.

Singles – A game consisting of two single players from each team

Skip – The team captain. The skip plays last guides the strategy.

Shot Bowl – The bowl closest to the Jack.

Toucher – A bowl that touches the jack during it’s initial delivery. The bowl is marked with chalk and remains in play even if it lands in the ditch within the boundaries of the rink either during initial delivery or if moved by a subsequent bowl.

Trial Ends – During tournament play each team member delivers two non–scored bowls in each direction to determine a feel for the rink. Prior to the trial ends the team members are not allowed to practice on the actual rink used for the contest.

Triples – A game consisting of tree players for each team. The team consists of a lead, vice and skip. Each player delivers three bowls.

Up – The team winning at any point during a given head.

USLBA – United States Lawn Bowls Association.

Vice – The team member that goes second in triples. The vice measures, keeps the score and remains in the head to advise the skip as they bowl.

Weight – The amount of speed or energy applied to a bowl upon delivery. Also used to refer to the distance traveled.

Wide – A bowl is delivered with insufficient grass which then swings past the target.

Wick – A bowl that accidentally or intentionally comes into contact with another bowl and changes it’s path of travel.

Woods – An older term for bowls. Bowls historically were made of lignum vitae or other heavy wood.

Yard On – A bowl delivered with enough weight to land a yard past the target. The extra weight is used to displace the target bowl or jack. A bowl with a yard of weight will move the contacted bowl a foot or two forward while staying near the point of contact and essentially replace the contacted bowl.

Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club - Pacific Intermountain Division - Bowls USA