A short introduction to short mat bowls

As “short mat” is lawn bowls adapted for village and community halls the objective of the game is exactly the same; simply to get more of your bowls (known as woods even though they are no longer made of wood) nearer to the ‘jack’ than your opponent's nearest wood. Every wood you count until you reach a wood of your opponent is a ‘shot’ in your favour. Obviously, if your opponent has woods nearer than yours then that is ‘shots away’. The side scoring the most shots over a predetermined number of ‘ends’ is the winner.

A bowling green is some 125 feet long whereas a short mat is just 45 feet or around a third in length. This is where the main difference in the two games occurs. Over 125 feet any shot within three feet or so is going to be good shot, in short mat three inches or so is a good shot! Played with full sized woods, but with a heavier jack than outdoors, impact between woods becomes more important and produces some exceedingly tight ‘ends’ and this is why many of us enjoy short mat more than lawn bowls. All ‘mats’ differ in speed partly through differences in manufacture and partly depending on the surface they are laid on. They are also subject to the undulations and slopes of the floor they are laid on. Reading the mat is part of the fascination of the game.

To give more of a visual impression of short mat take a look at this video of the several times professional indoor bowls champion, Alex Marshall and Stephen Williams, a four times national short mat champion. You may struggle to meet their standards at first but with practice … who knows?