Bowls: a good way to keep active

Bowls provides exercise of a moderate intensity. It also offers a mental challenge for people of all ages through the development of skills and tactics.

If you're looking for a chance to keep active and socialise with people in your community, then bowls is for you. Most clubs have bar and catering facilities and you can take part in non-bowling activities, such as quiz nights and whist drives.

What's the aim of the game?

The aim of the game is to get your bowls as close as possible to a small white ball, called the "jack". It might sound easy, but the fact that the bowls don't travel in a straight line adds to the tactical challenge. 

All the action takes place on a standard bowling green, which is a flat square with sides of 34-40m (around 112-131 feet). The first player to bowl rolls the jack to the other end of the green as a target. Players then take turns to bowl. When all the bowls have been played, a competitor or team gets one point for each of their bowls that is closer to the jack than the opponent's closest bowl. 

Advice on getting started in bowls

Getting involved is cheap and easy. You just need to go to your local club and arrange to have a go. To find your local indoor club, see the English Indoor Bowling Association website or phone 01664 481900.

What equipment do I need?

All the necessary equipment, from shoes to bowls, is generally available at the club free of charge. You will also receive instruction from a qualified coach or an experienced player free of charge.

How popular is bowls in Britain?

Bowls is definitely a sport for all, whether you are a nine-year-old taking your first steps into sport or a 99-year-old looking to keep active and meet like-minded people.

As a sport, bowls attracts around 1 million players all over Britain. Bowls can be played indoors or outdoors, and the rules are the same. Top players of both forms of bowls come together to play lawn bowls at the Commonwealth Games.

Advice on getting into competitive bowls

For people who thrive on competition, bowls can be played competitively at all levels. All clubs run their own leagues and cup competitions. Players from the club can enter national club and county tournaments. At national competitions, the best players are selected to represent their country at international series.

Page last reviewed: 03/07/2015

Next review due: 03/07/2017


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