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Bowls Etiquette Guidelines

The etiquette of bowls is a combination of good manners, sportsmanship and sociability. These courtesies are best described as the unwritten laws of the game. They are extras and are designed to promote and enhance the excellent reputation for friendliness and sportsmanship that the game of bowls has rightly earned.
"Be familiar with the Laws of the Game and any
variation that might specifically apply to the Club or to a
Tournament in which you may be playing."
  • Ensure you are correctly attired as dress for matches and competitions can vary. If in doubt consult your Captain or Secretary. (It is customary for men to wear ties at the commencement of matches unless the Captain has given permission otherwise).
  • Make sure you know the correct starting time of the game and arrive in sufficient time to change and be on the green ready to start at the appointed time.
  • Make sure you know the rules of the game/competition you are playing.
  • Make sure you have the correct stickers on your bowls (Club/District/County).
  • Do support your club and put your name down on availability lists. (If unsure how to go about this, seek advice from your Club instructor, Captain or Secretary.)
  • If for a good reason you have to withdraw please notify your Captain at the earliest convenience.
  • Do play your part in assisting with the smooth running of your Club and support your Club and its officers. Check to see if you are expected to help with catering and/or any other duty such as helping to get equipment ready.   If your name appears on a rota and you are unable to attend, notify the Captain or Secretary without delay. (It may be your responsibility to find an alternative).
  • Law 52 specifies the duties of the Players when playing as a rink.
  • The 'skip' shall have sole charge of his team.
  • The 'third' may have deputised to him/her the duty of measuring all disputed shots.
  • The 'skip' shall keep a record of all shots scored for and against his/her team.
  • The 'lead' shall place the mat and shall deliver the jack ensuring that the jack is properly centred before playing the first bowl.
  • Enter and leave the green by the footpaths, do not cross the greens.
  • Respect the green surface at all times.
  • Do not drop your bowls on the green.
  • Do not stand on the edge of the green or walk in the ditches.
  • Do not drop litter on the greens or in the ditches, use the receptacles provided.
  • Possession of the rink' must always be respected. Be still and quiet whether at the 'mat' end or the 'head' whilst others are delivering their bowls.
  • Never deliver your bowl before the previous bowl has come to rest.
  • Keep track of play, be ready to bowl when it is your turn.
  • Follow the directions given by the 'skip' whether or not you agree.
  • You may only ask the skip a question when you are on the mat and ready to bowl. Likewise, the 'skip' should not give you information when you are off the mat and possession has been transferred to the next person to bowl.
  • Remember that directions for the 'skips' are only given by the number 3 in rinks (4 players) or number 2 in triples. Other players must not intervene unless asked. (Remember it is a team game).
  • The result of each end is determined between the number 3's (2's in triples). Other players should not interfere unless asked.
  • Do not disturb the 'head' until the result of the end has been decided.
  • Encourage rather than criticise, no one intentionally bowls a bad ball.
  • In a rinks, triples or pairs game play as a team member not as an individual.
  • Remember that it is unsporting to verbally encourage failure by the opposition, e.g. encouraging a bowl to miss/go through, etc. It is also unsporting to verbally 'celebrate' a shot by your opponents which has 'gone wrong' and given your team the advantage. (These 'strokes of fortune' usually even themselves out over a season!)
  • If you lose, be a good loser, don't blame your loss on other people, the green, the weather conditions, etc.
  • Win or lose, always shake hands with your opponents and team players and thank them for the game. (Remember to thank the Marker in a Singles game).
  • Bowls is a sociable game and it is good manners after a game to offer your opponents (and Marker in Singles) a drink and/or refreshments.