Crown Green Bowls is a skilled game which is easy to learn. It can be relaxing and sociable, or highly competitive! Crown green bowling (as distinguished from flat green bowling) is most established in the North of England, North Wales and Midland regions. With roots in the factories which often established their own greens and clubs, today it is enjoyed by thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life. 

The easiest way to learn the rules of Crown Green Bowls is to play – get in touch and we’d be happy to introduce you to the game!

The following information comes courtesy of Steve Hawksworth. MPBC experienced a huge regeneration in 2023, a group of non-players joined and in one season, using basic tools of publicity and a welcoming approach, we have transformed the clubs ailing membership. The one individual who more than anyone else really spurred us on with encouragement, useful information and a positive attitude was Steve and it is an honour to publish Steve’s beginner’s guide to Crown Green Bowling here:


  • Crown Green Bowls is a code of bowls played outdoors on a specially prepared short-cut grass surface or approved artificial surface known as a ‘Bowling Green’ or simply ‘Green’.  The sport’s name is derived from the intentionally convex or uneven nature of the green which is traditionally formed with a raised centre known as the ‘Crown’.  The Green has a ‘Ditch’ or Gutter’ round the edges.  The Green slopes on all sides from the crown towards the ditch/gutter.
  • Crown green bowls is played mainly in the MidlandsNorthern England, North Wales and the Isle of Man.

The Aim of the Game

  • The aim of crown green bowls is to roll your ‘Bowls’ from your hand towards a target called the Jack


Bowls                                                          Jack                                                     Mat

  • Rolling the Bowl or Jack is known as ‘The Delivery’.
  • Each player plays with two bowls.
  • Whenever the Bowl or Jack is delivered, one of your feet must be placed on a Mat so that all bowls and jack are sent from the same spot.
  • A game comprises of a number of ‘Ends’.  An end is where the jack is rolled first and the players then take it in turns to roll each of their Bowls towards the jack.  An end finishes when all bowls have been delivered.
  • The aim of an end is to finish with your bowls closer to the jack than those of your opponent.
  • For each of your bowls that is closer than your opponents, you score 1 point.
  • The winner of the end gets to deliver the jack in the next end.
  •  An unlimited number of ends can be played.
  • The player delivering the Jack can choose to send the Jack anywhere they like on the Green.
  • Competitive games are usually played between 2 people (Singles), 4 people (Doubles) or 6 people (Triples) with the winner/winners being the first to score 21 points.

Choosing the Right Bowl

  • As a beginner, the first thing that you will need to do is choose your bowls.
  • The size and weight of the bowl you use is the most important aspect in your game.
  • If the bowl is too heavy and is too large in your hand, your grip will be compromised and it is likely to slip from your hand during delivery.
    • Size:  To make sure your Bowls aren’t too big, you should be able to comfortably reach your hands around the running surface of the bowl, connecting your thumbs and middle fingers.
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  • Weight:  Crown green bowls are measured in pounds and ounces and are made, normally, in 2-ounce increments, starting at 2lbs, up to 2lb 12 oz, although some makers will supply the “odd” weights if requested.
  • Smaller versions are available for children.
  • Common advice is to use the heaviest bowl you can handle.
  • However, you should make sure you use a bowl of comfortable weight that you can hold easily and does not slip from your hand during delivery.
  • To do a quick first test hold your bowl in your bowling hand and then stretch your arm straight out to one side, with the bowl facing up.
  • Now turn your hand over so that the Bowl is facing down.
  • You should be able to comfortably hold the bowl in that position for a couple of seconds before you turn your hand facing upwards again. 
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  • Now test again by holding the bowl out behind you as though you were about to bowl it, but hold it at the top of a big back-lift so your arm is almost horizontal.
  • You should be able to hold the bowl there for a second or two without dropping it, wobbling or twisting your wrist.
  • There should be no stress in your hand, no white knuckles, and no shaking.
  • If there is, consider trying a smaller or lighter bowl.
  • Before you go out and buy your first set of new bowls it is better that you try various weights of bowls in your hand, testing for comfort and ease of grip.
  • Your club will have bowls of various weights you can practice with before you decide to buy your own.
  • A new set of bowls cost from £120 upwards.
  • Second-hand bowls can be purchased for £50 to £60.
  • You may be able to pick up some second-hand bowls from members of your club or from online marketplaces such as ebay/gumtree/Amazon.  

The Delivery

  • Delivery is the action of rolling the jack or bowl from your hand across the green.
  • The delivery is the single most important part of your game, and it is vital that you spend time developing a comfortable, smooth, consistent delivery.
  • A good delivery provides you with control and the confidence that your bowl will go where you want.
  • A bad delivery can cause bouncing, wobble and wayward direction.
  • The delivery action is the key skill required to becoming a successful bowler.
  • Get this right from the beginning and you will have the opportunity later in your bowling career to maximise your own potential.
  • The delivery action can be broken down into the following stages:
    • Hold/Grip
    • Stance
    • Pendulum Swing
    • Swing and Step
    • Release
    • Follow Through


  • There are 2 recognised types of hold/grip in crown green bowls: Cradle Grip, and Claw Grip.
  • Cradle Grip
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  • Claw Grip
  • There is no definitive way to hold the bowl, just choose the one that works for you.
  • The main thing is that the bowl sits comfortably in your hand and the bowl leaves the hand correctly.
  • Before delivering the bowl, make sure that the bowl is held in such a way that is “pointing” in the direction you want and the sides of the bowl are upright.
  • Think of the bowl as being an extension of the arm, and once you’ve become used to the feel of your bowl in your hand, you almost forget that it’s there.
  • That means there is one less thing to think about!


  • Balance:  It is vital that you are comfortable and well balanced before and during the delivery action.
    • Good balance prior to beginning the delivery action means you are more likely to be able to step directly ahead of yourself and create a stable base and is more able to deliver correctly onto your chosen line.
  • Before you send your jack or bowl your delivery foot must be placed on the mat (right foot if right-handed, left foot if left-handed).
  • Stand comfortably with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Make sure you are facing the direction that you intend to send your jack or bowl.

Pendulum Swing

  • The arm action should be a long pendulum action with a long back swing and long follow through and a consistent speed throughout the swing.
  • A long pendulum action means that the bowl goes further for less effort.   A consistent long pendulum action makes it easier to make speed of delivery changes to determine length.
  • Shortening the backswing reduces the distance the bowl travels.
  • Putting extra effort in at the end of the swing often unbalances the bowler causing the bowl to go ‘offline’..

Swing and Step

  • Timing of the delivery action should be ‘Swing then Step’.
    • Swinging the arm before moving the foot means the action will create more momentum.
    • Keep your delivery arm close to your body.
    • Planting the stepping foot first means the delivery will not utilise the momentum of the step.
  • Step straight forward as if stepping on train tracks.
    • A common fault is for bowlers to step across themselves thus losing balance.
  • Take a normal walking step length.
    • Overstepping changes the arc of the pendulum and means the bowler has to make other adjustments to get the bowl on the green at the bottom of the swing creating more opportunities for error.  Over stepping can also cause you to lose balance.


  • As you step forward bend at the knees and get as low to the ground as possible.
    • Lower centre of gravity creates a more stable base.
  • Release the bowl at the bottom of the pendulum almost brushing your fingers on the green.
    • Dropping the wood onto the surface from a height creates a bouncing bomb effect and reduces length.
  • Ensure the hand remains in line with the arm.
    • Twisting of the wrist puts the bowl offline at the release point of the delivery & creates a wobble effect at the beginning of trajectory reducing distance.
  • Release the bowl opposite the front/leading foot.
    • Releasing early or late reduces the distance the bowl travels as the bowl either drops on to the surface or is driven into the surface.
    • The bowl should roll off the tips of your fingers.
  • Place your non bowling hand/arm on your leading knee or thigh as this will help your stability.
  • Keep your head still during your delivery action as any movement of your head will affect the line the bowl will travel on.

Follow Through

  • Follow through & stretch fingers so that your palm faces upward in the direction of bowls travel (Catch the Raindrops).
    • You are more likely to deliver on the required line.

Once your delivery action becomes comfortable you can concentrate purely on the correct line, and the distance (length) required becomes instinctive.  (Muscle Memory)
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Understanding the Jack and the Bowl

Bias and Peg

  • The Bias:
  • In crown green bowls, both the jack and bowls have a bias.
  • The bias causes the jack or bowl to curve to the left or the right as it rolls along the green.
  • If the bias is facing LEFT the jack/bowl will curve to the LEFT.
  • If the bias is facing RIGHT the jack/bowl will curve to the RIGHT.
  • The bias is caused purely by the shape of the bowl or jack, not by the use of weights as is often assumed.
  • On a bowl the side with the Bias is identified by a small concave ‘dimple’ in the side that can be felt with the fingers.
  • On a jack there is no ‘dimple’.
  • The bias on a jack is always the one with one large circle.
  • On a jack the non-bias side is marked with three dots or circles.
  • The effect of the bias increases as the bowl/jack slows down.
  • This means that the bowl/jack will turn the most in the last few metres before it stops.

             Bias Side of Bowl                                                                      


  • Bias Strength
    • Newly manufactured bowls and jacks are both required to have a bias ‘strength’ known as ‘2-full’ bias to comply with the official British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA) rules.
    • This is a nominal ‘standard’ that was adopted as the game developed in the past.
    • A 2-full bias bowl should follow the same line as a 2-full bias jack sent over the same distance.
    • It should finish directly in front of the jack.
    • Older bowls may have 2¼ or 2 ½ bias, meaning they could roll on a slightly different line.
  • Thumb and Finger Peg:
    • THUMB PEG means the bias is next to your thumb.
    • FINGER PEG means the bias is next to your little finger.
    • This is the same for both left-handed bowlers and right-handed bowlers.
  • Left-Handed Bowler:    
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  • Right-Handed Bowler:
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  • Left Hander v Right Hander (Visa Versa)
  • When bowling against someone who bowls with the opposite hand you must go the opposite peg to them.
  • I.E. If your opponent bowls finger peg you must bowl thumb peg and visa-versa.

Following your own Jack Line

Pick a Mark on the Green

  • The purpose is to send a jack followed by your bowls along a chosen path using the same peg.
  • Look for a ‘mark’ on the green 2-3 metres ahead of yourself on the imagined line the jack/bowl will take to its chosen finish.
  • Deliver the jack with your normal action over the mark on the green.
  • Check your bowl to ensure you are using the same peg as the jack.
  • Follow your Jack Line by bowling your bowls over the same mark on the green.
  • Concentrate on stretching your fingers in the direction of the mark at the point of delivery (Catch the Raindrops).
  • Keep your head still during your delivery action.
  • This will help you to follow your Jack Line.
  • You must be able to find the ‘mark ‘again easily when you step back on to the mat.
  • Lining your body up with a ‘reference point’ off the green when choosing your mark on the green may help you to do this.

Following your Opponents Jack Line

  • In accordance with the Laws of the Game the leader should show the follower what peg they are sending the jack out on.
  • It is good etiquette, but not law, for the leader to also tell the follower what peg they are going with the jack.
  • When you are the following bowler you should stand behind the leading bowler’s bowling arm i.e. right arm when following a right-hander, left arm when following a left-hander.
  • Stand close enough behind the leader without interfering with their delivery action and look over their shoulder as they deliver the jack.
  • Watch the line of the jack and pick an imagined mark on the green 2–3 metres in front of the mat that you perceive the jack has rolled over.
  • Watch the jack all way across the green until it has come to rest.
  • Step on to the mat and line yourself up in the direction you want to deliver your bowl.
  • Check your bowl to ensure you are using the same peg as the jack was sent out on.
  • Deliver your bowl with your normal action over your imagined mark on the green.
  • Note:  Always follow the line of the jack and NEVER the line of your opponent’s bowl.  Different 
  • Watch your bowl all the way until it has come to rest.
  • Adjust with your second bowl if you missed the jack line with your first bowl.
  • Note:  If right-handed bowlers are following a left-handed bowler (or vice- versa) they should take the imagined mark further away from the mat at c 6-7 metres to compensate for the difference in angle of delivery.

Delivering a jack or bowl to a chosen length

Bowling to a desired length is by general consent the most difficult area of the game.

Strength is not directly related to how far a bowl will travel – if the delivery action is correct.

Delivering Different Lengths

  • Your delivery action should be consistent even when bowling to different lengths.
  • To bowl to different lengths the only thing you change in your delivery action is the SPEED OF SWING.
  • To bowl shorter distances requires a slower deliver action and to bowl longer distances requires a quicker delivery action.
  • The whole delivery action should be the same speed no ‘extra push’ at the end.
  • By maintaining a consistent delivery action and only changing the speed of swing will help you to maintain your balance and help you follow your desired line.
  • Common faults when trying to bowl to a longer distance:
    • Increasing the length of backswing.
    • Stepping further forward with the leading leg.
    • Using extra force to ‘push’ the bowl before releasing it. 
    • Any of these actions could affect your balance during delivery and cause you to bowl off your desired line.

Game Situation

  • If you are short to the head with your first bowl you should increase your delivery arm speed with your second bowl.
  • If you are through the head with your first bowl you need to reduce the speed of your delivery arm with your second bowl.

Deliver a Mark on a Straight Peg and Round Peg

Effects of Bias and Crown

  • Both the bias of the bowl and the slope of the green cause the bowls to run in curved paths.
  • The green will always tend to pull the bowl in the direction of the downward slope.
  • The bias of the bowl on the other hand can face either left or right at the discretion of the player, therefore, the two effects of bias and green can be used together, widely curving the path of the bowl; or against one another when the path of the bowl will be less curved and may run almost straight.
  • That is almost straight, but never quite straight, for in the last foot or so before the bowl stops, the pull of the bias at low speed will usually be much greater than the pull of the slope of the green, and the bowl will curve around in response to the bias.  (How much depends on the steepness of the slope of the green.)

Straight Peg

  • This shot is recommended for beginners as it’s the easiest shot to master.
  • On a straight peg shot the bias of the bowl always faces towards the centre of the green.
  • In other words the bowl is delivered with the bias counter to slope of the green.
  • The result is that the slope of the green and the bias of the bowl are used in opposition to one another and as a consequence the bias of the bowl is largely negated resulting in the bowl following a path which can be almost straight.


  • Straight marks are usually found on flatter parts of the green.
  • The edges of the green are often straight marks.
  • It is good practice to bowl around the edges of the green in both directions to learn how each edge behaves differently.

Round Peg

  • A round peg shot is a more difficult shot to master but is a good shot to learn.
  • When bowling a round peg shot the bias should always face towards the edge of the green.
  • In a round peg shot, the slope of the green and the bias of the bowl are used together to increase the curvature of the path of the bowl.


So! In essence that is Crown Green Bowling.  A simple game to learn but a difficult game to master.  There is a lot to take in here.  Only take in one thing at a time and work on one thing at a time.  Once you are happy with that aspect of your game then move on. Practice, practice, practice!!

95% of problems come down to your delivery action:  your hold and release in particular.  Work on your delivery action until it becomes comfortable and second nature.  (Muscle Memory).  This is then one less thing to have to think about and you can concentrate your effort on getting your ‘line’ and ‘length’ right.  Again practice, practice, practice.  Above all else HAVE FUN  and enjoy the game of Crown Green Bowls.