The rules of the game are defined in full in the official ‘Joint Laws of the Game’ booklet. All bowlers should familiarise themselves with these rules as soon as possible.
In addition to the rules, a certain amount of ‘etiquette’ is normally followed, in order to make the game as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Some guidelines are offered here – they should be noted by beginners and experienced bowlers alike.
For Bowlers and Spectators
- Do not distract bowlers who are bowling towards you, by moving or walking across the end of the rink. Wait until the bowl has been delivered, then move.
- It is not good etiquette to interrupt other players when they are on the green, particularly during competitive matches. If you need to speak to players it should be before or after their game.
- Respect and protect the green – the Club’s most important asset.
- Do nothing in your actions, words or appearance that will reflect against your Club.
Before the Game
- Make sure you know the rules of the game or competition you are playing.
- Know the correct dress (it will differ for different types of games) and ensure you arrive correctly dressed, with time to spare.
- Ensure that jacks, mats, scoreboards and other equipment are in place ready for the beginning of the game.
During the Game
- Enter and leave the green by the banks and footpaths – do not walk across other players’ rinks.
- Do not drop your bowls on the green and ensure that your delivery does not cause scuff marks or is otherwise damaging the green.
- Do not drop litter on the green or in the ditches.
- Mobile phones should not be used on or around the green.
- Do not stand or sit on the banks whilst waiting to play. Note that it not the banks that are the main problem, but people sitting on the banks tend to place their feet on the edge of the green causing serious damage.
- Introduce yourself and shake hands with your opponent(s) both before play commences and when the game is completed.
- ‘Possession of the Rink’ must always be respected. Stand well behind the mat or the head, keeping still and quiet while others are delivering their bowls.
- When at the head, bear in mind that some bowlers like a clear view of the rink markers.
- When at the head in sunny conditions, or as the sun sets, avoid standing where your shadow is cast over the jack, making it difficult to see from the mat.
- Similarly, standing directly behind a white jack in white shoes can make the jack difficult to see.
- Follow the direction given by the ‘skip’, whether or not you agree.
- Remember that the directions for the ‘skip’ are only given by the number three in rinks, or the number two in triples. Other players should not interfere, unless asked.
- The result of each end (including measuring where required) is determined between the threes (or twos in triples). Other players should not normally interfere.
- Do not disturb the head until the result of the end has been agreed.
- Encourage, rather than criticize – no one delivers a bad bowl intentionally.
- Commend good shots.
- Learn to accept lucky shots, both for and against you – they will balance out in the long run.
‘Flukes are simply revelations of unrecognised opportunities’.
After the Game
- Shake hands. Congratulate the opposing team and offer to buy your opposite number a drink (after singles matches, your ‘marker’ should be included in the invitation). Remember that your opponent is a guest of the Club.
- Ensure that jacks, mats, scoreboards and other equipment are returned to the store.
- Avoid making excuses for your lack of success the topic of conversation.
A knowledge of the above will make you a better respected bowler, and will contribute towards the enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, both on and off the green.
See also – Etiquette for Markers