Lawn Bowls Rules – The Dead End | A Complete Guide To Dead Ends

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

Bowlers get used to the basic rules of lawn bowls and how an end works pretty quickly – however there are other ways an end can play out other than the standard way of playing all of the bowls and counting up the shots.

A dead end is one such scenario. Dead ends can be tricky to understand, as it includes the jack moving off the rink, and depending on where it goes the rules are different.

Lets take a look at the “dead end” rule.

What is a “dead end”?

A dead end is when the jack is moved off the sides of the rink. It doesn’t matter whether this happens directly from an active bowl or not. If the jack moves outside of the rink markers, a dead end is called.

Once a dead end is called the end must be replayed.

Is a dead end the same as a jack in the ditch?

No, so long as the jack is in the ditch within the rink markers, an end of bowls can continue.

There are specific rules for how to play with a jack in the ditch, you can find my guide on the “jack in the ditch” scenario here.

What happens on a dead end

When a dead end happens the end stops. All remaining bowls are taken to the other end of the rink and the end is replayed in the other direction.

The “dead end” doesn’t count towards the total number of played ends, so be sure not to count it on your scorecards.

There are some exceptions to this, with common variations including:

  • respotting the jack at the “full-length” marker
  • considering the end completed as a draw with no shots being scored

However, these variations are rare at club level, and any change from the standard rule would be made clear in the tournament/league rules.


Dead ends are quite common, especially in higher level competition, however it is surprising how few bowlers know the rules for it.

It is safe to assume that the leagues and tournaments you play in will play with the standard rule of replaying the end, as the variations usually only apply to national or international levels.

If you learn the rules for dead ends, and the jack in the ditch you likely know more than the majority of the players on the green!