How to Play Short Mat Bowls

by Dan Chruscinski
Short Mat Bowls takes the game of Bowls indoors.

Short Mat Bowls takes the game of Bowls indoors.

Short Mat Bowls is a variation on Lawn Bowls, which can be compared to bocce for those familiar with backyard sports. Short Mat Bowls is played indoors by two teams of up to four players on a mat instead of on a lawn. The game includes obstacles to make up for the smooth play surface. Each team takes turns rolling large, heavy balls, called "bowls," down a mat in an attempt to get closest to a certain point. Points are scored for being the team with their bowls closest to the marked point on the mat.

1. Roll out the rink mat across a flat surface. The mat measures 40 (short) to 45 (standard) feet long and 6 feet wide. On each mat are guide lines for setting up the game.

2. Place a block on the middle guide of the rink mat. This block prevents bowling down the center of the mat.

3. Place the long, bracket-shaped blocks on each end of the mat. These are used to catch the bowls as they roll across the play area.

4. Set the small rectangular delivery mat at one end of the rink mat. This is where players must keep one foot during their rolls.

5. Place the round ball, called the "jack," along the center line at the opposite end of the rink mat from the delivery mat.

6. Split the players into two teams. If only two players are participating, the game is played one-on-one. Each team alternates between their players during a round, with the first player called "lead," the last player called “skip” and the other players called “second,” “third” and so on.

7. Choose one team to go first. Pick up one of the bowls. Place one foot onto the delivery mat and the other anywhere between the two outer lines of the rink mat, called "delivery lines."

8. Roll the bowl down the rink mat towards the jack. The bowl cannot touch the center block and must pass over the horizontal line near the jack, called the "dead line." If either of these conditions are not met, the bowl is removed from play.

9. Send the lead from the other team to roll one of his bowls down the mat.

10. Proceed through the rest of your teams until every member has rolled one bowl down the mat. With three players, each player will roll one bowl for a total of three per team. However, in a game with only two players, each player can roll up to four bowls depending on a predetermined preference.

11. Score the points for the round. The team with a bowl closest to the jack gets one point. If the second closest bowl belongs to the same team, the team gains an additional point and so on until the next closest bowl belongs to the opposing team. The team without a bowl closest to the jack gains no points for the round.

12. Repeat with additional rounds until an agreed-upon round limit has been reached. For example, the game may proceed through 10 rounds of rolls.

13. Count up the score after the end of the final round. The team with the highest score wins.

Items you will need

  • Short Mat Bowl set

About the Author

Dan Chruscinski has written pieces for both business and entertainment venues. His work has appeared in "Screen Magazine" as well as websites such as Starpulse.com. Chruscinski graduated in 2006 with a degree in English literature from Illinois State University.

Photo Credits

  • About bowls - a sport for all generations image by fotoliamemberN from Fotolia.com