Lawn bowling is a popular game across the world and suitable for participants of all ages. The object of the game is to roll a ball, or bowl, closest to the target ball, a small white ball called a jack. The ball's design, slightly flattened on one side, creates the challenge of the game. The shape of the ball causes it to travel a curved path, or bias.
This game requires little equipment: a set of matching balls; a pair of flat, smooth shoes; a jack; and a mat. Two teams compete, each with one to four players. Usually, lawn bowling takes place outdoors on a green — a grass or synthetic surface — measuring 120 feet (11.15 m) square. A green contains multiple rinks, and each rink has marked boundaries.
A rubber mat is placed at one end of the rink and the jack is placed in the center. Players roll each of their balls toward the jack. The player must keep one foot on the mat when releasing the ball.
After each player rolls all of his or her balls, the play has reached an "end" — similar to an inning or period in other sports — and the score is calculated. The team whose ball is closest to the jack receives a point. Each ball belonging to the same team that is closer to the jack than any of the competitor's balls also receives a point. If a ball hits the jack during play, there is no penalty. An out-of-bounds jack results in a "dead end," however, and is replayed.
Prior to the start of a lawn bowling game, the teams determine its duration, meaning the number of ends for that particular game. In tournaments, most games consist of 21 ends. During the game, placement of the jack varies in distance. Each team gets to control the position of the mat and the jack based on who won the previous end.
Players can roll the ball using either a forehand or backhand motion, and many learn to gauge the curve. A set of balls, or bowls, has a distinctive marking so as to be recognizable. The sets can vary in size, weight, and curvature. Rules, ball weight, and dress codes can vary according to the country of play.
Lawn bowling has an ancient history which most likely originated with Roman soldiers tossing stones at a target rock. It is similar to the Italian game, bocce. In the U.S., the United Lawn Bowls Association governs the game.