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Etiquette, team play and outside influences

Lawn Bowls Etiquette: A Guide for Bowlers

Lawn Bowls has a set of concrete rules, but like cricket, it also has a softer set of guidelines.

Etiquette simply means displaying good sportsmanship based on the traditions of the game.

Applying common sense goes a long way to displaying good sportsmanship.

Here’s a guide to some of the finer points of lawn bowls etiquette:

  1. Be on time for any game (social, club competition or Zone event) that you have agreed to play in.
  2. Switch off your mobile phone or other electronic devices before commencing a game.
  3. Be aware of the fundamental rules of the game and conditions of play before the event being played.
  4. Always greet your opponent with a friendly handshake at the start of a game.
  5. Hand your opponent the mat and jack at the start of play.
  6. Commend good bowls and acknowledge your own fluky or lucky bowls. It is considered poor sportsmanship to cheer opposition bowls going into the ditch, out of bounds or knocking one of your bowls towards the jack.
  7. Show respect for your opponents and teammates by not disturbing them while they are on the mat and by standing still at the head end when someone is about to bowl.
  8. Avoid disturbing players on other rinks by not walking onto their rink or making excessive noise.
  9. All players should assist in kicking back the bowls at the completion of an end.
  10. If the Umpire is called to measure, all bowlers should retreat from the head and not disturb him.
  11. At the completion of a game the graceful loser should congratulate the modest winner with a handshake and share a drink with them in the clubhouse.
  12. Bowls is a very inclusive sport, be sure to treat all opponents with the same amount of respect that you would wish to be treated.
  13. Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol or use foul or offensive language or gestures.
  14. Be aware of the rules regarding drinking and smoking on greens.
  15. If you are a smoker, be considerate of non-smokers. Do NOT smoke on or around the green, only smoke in areas designated for smoking.
  16. Look after the bowling green. Do not drop your bowls onto the green or sit on the bank with feet on the green’s edge as this will cause damage.
  17. Show respect for all Markers and Umpires as they are giving up their time so you can enjoy the game.
  18. When another bowler has marked your Singles game, it is customary for both players to buy a drink for the Marker when the game has finished.
  19. Show respect for all bowling club officials and staff when in the clubhouse and for the property itself.

In a team game

  1. Bowlers should be watching the game as it progresses so they understand the position of the game when they step onto the mat.
  2. Bowlers should be ready to bowl immediately after the opposition’s bowl has come to rest, not sitting on the bench or standing on the bank.
  3. Players at the mat-end of the rink who are not delivering a bowl should stand at least 1 metre behind the mat.
  4. Bear in mind that some people like to see the rink boundary markers and the centre pin while playing so make sure that you are not obscuring them.
  5. On sunny days you must also ensure that your shadow does not fall on the jack.
  6. When stepping onto the mat, players should look to the Skip for directions
  7. Bowlers not on the mat should refrain from chatting or making a noise when a bowler on the mat is concentrating on their delivery.
  8. Before delivering their bowl, players should look at neighbouring rinks and wait if another bowler is already bowling.
  9. After you have delivered a bowl and before it has come to rest you have two options. If you want to track your bowl’s progress you must be behind the head as it stops. In other words, you must beat it to the head. If you don’t go to the head, you must be behind the mat as your bowl stops.
  10. After the first 2 or 3 bowlers have played, they should walk briskly in the middle of their own rink to the opposite end, not stopping to study the head so that they are well behind the head when the skips reach the mat, allowing them to bowl as soon as they reach the mat.
  11. Placing the Skip’s bowl on the mat is a courtesy and helps to move the game along.
  12. Only the Thirds should remain at the head while the Skips are bowling and must stand at least 2 metres behind the bowl furthest back (this may mean standing on the bank)
  13. The Thirds should only go into the head when the Skip asks them to do so
  14. The Thirds should move back from the head once their Skip’s bowl comes to rest so that the opposing Third may enter the head if asked to do so by his Skip
  15. When measuring for a shot count, only the Thirds should be in the head.
  16. Players should not engage with persons who are not part of the game, this might disturb the concentration of other players on their or neighbouring rinks.

Outside Influences


  • Persons not playing in the game must remain beyond the limits of the rink and clear of the verges.
  • Spectators who are in the player’s line of vision or behind a bowler should keep still while bowls are being delivered.
  • Should not engage in any 'coaching' or play advice/suggestions to any player either verbally or by gesticulation. A player can ask a marker or their Skip specific questions regarding the head situation, spectators are not allowed to involve themselves.
  • Should not engage in conversion with players on a rink, this can disturb the concentration of other players on that or neighbouring rinks.
  • Will be warned a club official (including a marker or umpire) if they try to influence the game and may be asked to remove themselves if they persist in their action.

Objects on the green

  • Except for the marking of a live jack in the ditch, no extraneous object intended to assist a player may be placed on the green or rink, or on a bowl or jack .

Unforeseen incidents

  • If the position of the jack or bowls be disturbed by wind or a storm, and the two skips are unable to agree the replacement positions, the end is played again in the same direction.

New members are always welcome

Pop in and give it a try, any Tuesday or Thursday afternoon or contact us to arrange a convenient time.