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Short Mat Bowls – An Increasingly Popular Game

Short mat bowls is one of the youngest variations of the sport. The first game is believed to have first been played in the 1920s, and the first clubs and leagues weren’t formed until the 1950s. Now there are more than 25,000 registered players in England alone. So why has there been such a massive increase in its popularity?

Bowls World is a leading supplier of bowls products in the UK and overseas. Here we look at five reasons why more and more people are taking up the game.

There’s No Need to Worry About the Weather

Unlike lawn or crown green bowls, you don’t have to worry about the weather if you fancy a game of the short mat version, as it’s played indoors. Some say it was invented by two South Africans who were working in Wales in and fancied a game of bowls. Frustrated by the wet climate, they put a mat down and began playing in a church hall. However, players in Northern Ireland insist that the game originated in Belfast.

Wherever it was invented, it’s since been played in all sorts of venues, ranging from community centres, village and church halls, and even on oil rigs.

It Teaches You the Basic Skills of the Sport…

The game follows the basic principles of lawn bowls. Players send their bowls down a mat, rather than across a green or down a carpet, trying to ensure their bowls end up closer to the jack than their opponents’. This means if you ever do decide to graduate to the outdoor version of the sport, you will already have a good grasp of the basic rules.

…and Improves One or Two Others

With short mat bowls, a block is placed midway down the rink mat. If you hit this, then your wood does not count and is automatically removed from the end. This puts a premium on accurate drawing shots, on either the forehand or the backhand sides, as fast firing shots are ruled out.

Although the mats are of high quality, the playing conditions and the under-surface can vary tremendously, which means players are constantly having to make subtle changes to their lengths and lines.

There’s a Level for Everyone

One of the beauties of this type of bowls is that it takes very little time to set up a game. All you need is the mat, the bowls, a jack, some players and a venue big enough to accommodate the mats. The English Short Mat Bowling Association says these should be 40-45ft long, and 6ft wide.

So this version of the sport lends itself to informal play. However, you can also compete at a high level as well. The ESMBA runs county and national competitions, while the clubs run their own. And you can play singles, pairs, triples or fours matches.

It’s Good for Your Health

As with all forms of bowls, the short mat version is good for your mental and physical health. It can improve the strength of the muscles in your arms, shoulders and legs. It is also mentally stimulating as each end will throw up its own challenges and problems which you need to solve. There’s also a social aspect – if you play regularly, you can make lots of new friends.

The game is extremely popular with older people because it can be played at quite a slow pace, and the presence of the block means you can’t play any really aggressive shots which require a lot of physical strength. This, coupled with the ease of setting up a game, can also help children to take up the sport.

Short Mat Bowls Products from Bowls World

At Bowls World we stock a range of short mat bowls products to customers in the UK and abroad. These include mats of varying speeds, wooden centre blocks, extra heavy jacks, and fenders to stop the bowls from running too far out of play and getting damaged. We also supply accessories such as mat handling and storage kits.

We recommend that you play with a mid-bias bowl, such as Drakes Pride Professional, Almark Sterling Slimline or Henselite Tiger Pro, all of which can be bought through our online shop, which you can access by clicking here. We also supply a wide selection of other bowls, bowls clothing and accessories for all outdoor and indoor forms of the game.

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