Traditional Fours
Two-bowl Trips
Quickfire Trips

Traditional Fours

Number of players: 8 bowlers (4 vs 4)
Number of bowls needed: 16

This is the test-match cricket of bowls. It's strategic, skillful and requires a lot from each player. Each team consists of a Lead, a Second, a Third and a Skip. At the start of each end, the Skip and the Third will stand at the Head. The team that won the toss starts. The Lead will deliver the Jack and the Skip will centre it. The Leads will then alternately play each of their bowls (so Lead A plays their first bowl, Lead B plays their first bowl, Lead A plays their second bowl, Lead B plays their second bowl). This sequence must be followed by all the players. Once the Leads have finished bowling, the Seconds take their turns.

Once the Seconds have finished bowling, the Leads and Seconds will walk up to the Head and the Thirds will walk to the mat and take their turn. All the while, the Skips will be directing the Head for each of their players (calling them on which shots to play and what result they want to achieve in order to either accumulate shots, defend their shots, add to their shots or run bowls out of the head).

Once the Thirds have finished bowling, they will return to the Head and the Skips will walk to the mat. When the Skips are bowling, the Thirds direct the head for each of their players.

Scoring is standard. Only one team can score on an end and they receive a shot for each bowl that is closer to the jack than their opponents' closest bowl. If there are any disputes, the players can use a bowls measure to calculate which bowls are closest.

International Two Bowl Trips

Number of players: 6 bowlers (3 vs 3)
Number of bowls needed: 12

Each team consists of three players: a Lead, a Second and a Skip. The Skip should be the most accurate bowler in the team or the most obnoxious. The two leads will deliver their two bowls first (lead A delivers their first bowl, lead B delivers their first bowl, lead A delivers their second bowl, lead B delivers their second bowl.) Once the leads are done, the Seconds take turns in the same order as the leads. Finally, it's the Skips turns.

Whilst the Leads and Seconds play their bowls, the Skips will normally stand at the head (the place where the jack is) and give their players feedback or ignore them completely while they talk about the cricket. Once the Leads and Seconds are finished, the Skips will walk to the mat, whilst the other players take their place at the head. Now it's the Seconds turn to tell the Skips what shots to play whilst the Leads stand behind them signalling quietly that the Skip should ignore the Second and play a completely different shot.

The winner of the end plays first on the next end, as in Golf.

Quickfire Trips

Number of players: 6 bowlers (3 vs 3)
Number of bowls needed: 12

Each game is five ends long. Winners move up to the next rink and losers stay on their rink. Jack is placed on the 2m mark, mat all the way up to the peg (the marker on the side of the green that indicates the shortest distance the jack can be thrown if the mat is on the 2m mark).

Whoever ditches the jack gets a point and their bowl gets taken out of the ditch. If the jack is burnt it is placed back on the 2m mark. One scorecard per team and the score is added up at the end.

How bowls (normally) works

Bowls is normally (if there's anything normal about bowls) played in singles or with a team of two, three or four players.

The format of the game varies according to the competition but in singles, the players take turns delivering each of their four bowls and score one shot (point) for each bowl they get closer to the jack (the little white ball) than their opponent.

The strategy is to score shots whilst putting bowls in places that prevent your opponent from taking the shot away from you.

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