Lawn bowling requires great mental fortitude because it is a precision sport. The objective of the game is for players to take turns delivering (roll) their balls so that they stop close to a smaller target ball known as a jack or kitty. To put it simply, it feels like a cross between Boccia and Bowling. Lawn Bowling can be played on grass or synthetic surfaces, and the playing area is known as the bowling green. The playing area is normally square, and must not be less than the dimensions of 34m by 40m in the direction of play; the surface of the bowling green may be flat or uneven. The pitch is also surrounded by a ditch.
Lawn bowls are available in different sizes, but they often fall between 116mm and 131mm in diameter. The bowls are made of hard plastic and should not exceed 1.59kg. An interesting tidbit about lawn bowls is that they are not spherical; the bowls have a biased shape such that they follow a curve route towards the jack when rolled. The biased side carries an identification mark. A reason for this is that the curved path taken by the bowls help players avoid bowls that have already been delivered near the jack.
Much like Boccia, the green can also be divided into 6 rinks, allowing six games to take place concurrently. These rinks must be between 5.5m and 5.8m. Lawn Bowling can be played individually or in teams (rink games). For instance, one game could involve all 6 rinks and 12 players (2 per team).
At any given time, a player can only deliver the ball whilst standing on a rubber mat. This mat is placed on the centre line of the respective rink, where its front end is no less than 2m from the rear ditch, or less than 25m from the front ditch (according to the direction of play). When delivering the ball, one of the player’s feet must be in contact with, or over the mat as it leaves the hand. Players take turns to deliver their bowls, after which the total number of deliveries is counted. Scores are given for each ball closer to the jack than any of the opponent’s bowls.
The jack’s position is not fixed; it can be moved by bowls made during play. Even if the jack is pushed into the ditch, that would be its new position and players must continue to bowl their balls as close as possible to the jack. Players’ bowls, however, must remain within the boundary. Bowls that roll into the ditch or finish outside the boundaries are declared as “dead” and are removed.
The development of Lawn Bowling in Singapore is overseen by Lawn Bowls Association for the Disabled (Singapore). The association views disability, whether physical or mental, as just a limitation rather than a concept which defines an individual. Hence, their mission is to rid of the stigma that disabled persons are incapable of participating in sports.
Benefits of Lawn Bowls
Lawn bowling is suitable for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels because it is neither difficult to grasp its basics, nor is it physically demanding. Unsurprisingly, lawn bowling is the sport that health professionals usually recommend for the elderly to keep active. Low-intensity sports impart several benefits, including improved fitness, improved coordination and flexibility, and better mental health. Apart from the physical, engaging in a social sport such as lawn bowling helps participants socialize with other people, supporting new friendships and bonds to form over the shared experience of playing the sport.
However, lawn bowling is more than a simple sport of rolling balls closest to the jack. Lawn Bowling is a highly tactical game where players must constantly predict and anticipate their opponents’ moves. This is because a single bowl can change the position of the jack and hence, the tide of the game. Another possible situation is to bowl a sacrificial shot to prevents opponents from moving any of the bowls. As these are only two of the possible situations that could occur, understanding both the game and the tactics that can be employed play a very important role. Hence, by mastering the ins-and-outs of Lawn Bowling, a person is intellectually stimulated, leading to improvements in their analytical skills and mental fortitude. Furthermore, the achievements they experience from the game can also lead to a surge of confidence and better self-esteem.