Guide To Short Mat Bowls | A Complete Guide

  • By: Reece Williams
  • Time to read: 2 min.

A brief guide to short mat bowls. How to play, why to play and where to play near you.

Guide to short mat bowls

Short mat bowls is a fun adaptation of lawn bowls. Played on a much smaller rink it encourages skillful play ideal for social players.

This is a brief introductory guide to the game ideal for those looking to take the game up.

Table of Contents


Short mat bowls is adapted from the outdoor game, so the main aim of the game remains the same, as do many of the core rules.

Players still take it in turns to get as close to the target (the “jack”) as possible. Multiple scores can still be made by getting several bowls closer to the jack than your opponent.

The only major difference is the size of the playing area. Whilst an outdoor green rink will be a short mat bowls mat is 6 foot wide and 45 foot long. A short mat rink also has a wooden block in the middle, this is to prevent firing shots through the centre of the head.

These differences have many benefits, which we will cover later.

The player formats and roles remain largely the same from the “full size” game. If you want to find out more about player roles see our guide to player positions and roles.


As the game is played on a much smaller surface it takes away much of the physical aspects of the larger “full size” game. This is especially true of outdoor bowls in the UK where getting bowls down on a heavy green can take some effort.

It also rewards skill and “touch” do to the blocking of heavy bowls through the middle.

There are county and international opportunities for those who wish to take the game seriously, however short mat bowls is ideal for the social player.

Finally, as it’s played indoors it is great for outdoor players to move to during the off-season.

Find a club

Due to the compact nature of the game, and how easily storable, short mat bowls can be played in any public space. Often clubs will play in village halls, social clubs, and sports halls.

Examples in our area of Wiltshire include:

As you can see, short mat bowls is a game accessible to all.

There are several sites that list short mat bowls clubs. We suggest checking out the following pages: