Indoor Bowls – A Beginner’s Guide
Indoor bowls is popular throughout Britain and in many other parts of the world, including as far afield as Malaysia.
The game is played in a similar way to lawn bowls and although there are slight differences between the two, it is essentially an indoor version of the outdoor game. Indoors it is played on strips of replica green of a comparable length to lawn bowls.
So what makes it so popular? One of the attractions of indoor bowling is that it can be played by all ages, including men, women, juniors and seniors. People of all abilities can play, including wheelchair users and blind bowlers.
Most clubs would start juniors at aged nine-years-old, which is where the popular indoor bowl saying ’anyone can play aged 9 to 90’ comes from.
As a testament to the game’s younger players, Bowl’s World proudly sponsors Ipswich teenager Katherine Rednall, daughter of England international John Rednall. who is making great strides in indoor bowls nationally.
Martin Curtis, of Bowls World, said: “Katherine is only 14 years old but is already breaking records which have stood for years. Having already played for the England under18 squad, she is almost certainly going to be the youngest ever Full England Ladies’ Team Bowler.”
The sport also attracts celebrity players, including former Ipswich and Colchester football players such as Mick Lambert (from Ipswich Town’s FA Cup winning-side), ex-Ipswich Town player John Elsworthy and former Colchester FC captain Peter Wright.
The game is not only popular in Britain, but it is played all over the world including Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Ireland, the Channel Islands, Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia.
In England the game is regulated by our relevant national body, The English Indoor Bowls Association, and there are also Scottish and Welsh Indoor Bowls Associations, and so on. These come under the umbrella of World Bowls Limited, the controlling body for flat green indoor bowling worldwide which includes members from Guernsey, Jersey, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Malaysia.
Like all team sports, players world-wide recognise that the sport brings certain benefits, such as learning rules, discipline and having a uniform. But it is not just about serious play; it is also a social game and offers a way to meet new people and make friends. And, like many sports, it is healthy too.
Mr Curtis said: “It would almost certainly show that older people who play bowls are more active as they get into their late 80s. People playing in their 90s is not uncommon and they all say the same thing; bowls has kept them moving, which has kept their joints free of stiffening up.”
How is it Played?
A full-size rink is 40 m long and 100 m wide and much bigger than the space needed for short mat bowls, which uses a 45 ft x 6 ft carpet.
The game can be played in singles, doubles, triples and there are also four player games. Its purpose is this: you must aim your bowling ball as near to the white ball (called the jack) as you can.
The game starts with the toss of a coin and the lead player rolls the jack which is moved to the centre of the rink.
Bowlers take it in turns. Once all the bowls have been played, each team gets a point for every bowl landing closer to the jack than their rival’s nearest ball. Once all the bowls have been played, the direction of play changes.
The Sport’s Rules
Any bowls ending at the ditch (the game boundary) are disqualified unless the bowl has touched the jack first.
If the jack rolls into the ditch, the game continues on unless the jack crosses the boundary to the side of the rink, which is out of bounds. If it does this, the player bowls again.
How is it Scored?
The scoring system depends on the type of competition. However, in most games the winner is declared the first player to score 21 points or the one that gets the highest points after 18 or 21.
Bowls Equipment & Clothing
Bowls World are a leading supplier of indoor bowls equipment from top manufacturers such as Henselite Bowls, Almark Bowls, Taylor Bowls and Drakes Pride Bowls.
We sell a wide range of bowls clothing and equipment for all levels including beginners, intermediate and professional players. Our range of clothing for men, women and juniors includes bowlsshoes, jackets, trousers, skirts and tops. We also have gift vouchers, bags and other accessories such as measures, score card holders and grip wax.
If you are just starting out as a beginner player, you just need a minimum of equipment to play, so only bowls and shoes are required. However, we also sell bowling starter packs which are ideal for the beginner and will help get you on the right track. All of these can all be bought from our online shop.
Finding a Bowls Club
Your choice of clubs is usually restricted to one indoor club in each large town. However, as indoor clubs are generally bigger than their outdoor counterparts, they usually offer better facilities such as a licensed bar, restaurants and social areas for other activities.
Membership fees vary from £30 to £60 a season with playing fees and match fees as paid as you play. This is about £2.50 for each 2 hour session. Some clubs also charge a joining fee. Players of all levels are welcome as there are different leagues for different levels of play, There are also social bowling leagues and friendship leagues, for those who want to get out and about in the winter to meet up with friends, play bowls and have a drink. All clubs will offer coaching, which is normally free of charge.