Game Etiquette

Lawn Bowls Etiquette

Bowls is a game in which ‘traditional’ values and customs have been preserved over many years, even as modern courtesies decline.

For newcomers and experienced bowlers alike, there are many unwritten ‘conventions’ to which players adhere – unfortunately some of the old-stagers  can seem to take pleasure in letting you know should you unwittingly transgress the code.  (Obviously not HWBC members!!)     

So, forewarned is forearmed.

Thinking about the etiquette involved resulted in a number of positive attributes, but also a long list of DO NOTs . . . . . first of which is  . . . and please don’t be put off by these – lawn bowls remains one of the few sports where common courtesy and manners are still prevalent.

We are be pleased to maintain this, and in order to make the game as enjoyable as possible, bowls etiquette should be promoted to members old and new.

Much of this is common-sense once you know it, but here are some of the conventions:

Before a Game:
  • Check the dress code for each game or match in which you are participating.   (Greys or whites, more details in the Club Handbook).
  • Please arrive on time, especially for an away game, ensuring you leave sufficient time to change, pay match fees, greet your opponents etc. 
  • Ensure your mobile phone is on ‘silent’ if it is with you.
The Game:

The Game:

  • Best to enter and leave the bowling green by any steps provided.
  • Not a good idea to drop your bowls and risk damaging the green.
  • It is customary to be introduced to the opposition by your Skip, and shake hands before play commences.  After the trial ends, the general format is to wish your opposition a ‘Good game’ or similar.
  • When players are bowling, stand well back and don’t distract them. 
  • Equally, after your bowl has come to rest, position yourself behind the mat out of the line of vision of the next player.
  • If you choose to follow your bowl down after delivery, remember you should beat it to the head . . . but how you do this without breaking the club rule of ‘no running on the green’ is a conundrum!  If you’ve ever been on the mat, ready to play your bowl. then had to wait for your opponent to complete the stroll up the green or back to the, mat you will know how annoying it is, so make sure you are not guilty in this respect.
  • Before bowling, allow your Skip time to give you his/her instructions.
  • When you are at the head end facing players about to bowl, again don’t distract them by movement.  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.
  • Only one team member should examine the head, so if it’s not you, then stand well back and keep schtum!
  • Some players may complain if your shadow falls on the jack, so take note of where you stand.
  • Whilst walking down the rink, keep roughly central so you don’t put off bowlers on adjacent rinks.
  • It is not good practice to sit on the banks while waiting to play.  NB: the banks are not the issue here, but people sitting on the banks tend to place their feet on the edge of the green where damage can easily be caused.
  • Commend good shots on both sides, but keep negative thoughts about ‘lucky wicks’ to yourself.  It is normal practice to acknowledge your own flukes with a raised hand.  Sportsmanship, not Gamesmanship.
  • Bowls should not be collected (kicked in or using a pusher) until the shot(s) for that end have been declared.  All can help by moving the bowls into a line for easier collection by the allotted team member.
  • Should measuring or an Umpire be needed, then stand back without comment.
  • Should you need to leave the green for any reason, ensure one of your team is informed. 

Remember your duties are dependent on your position in the team.

After the Game:
  • You should once again shake hands with your opponents and congratulate/commiserate with them appropriately.
  • It is also customary for the home team players to offer to buy a drink for their opposite number.  As an away team member, you reciprocate this offer towards the end of the meal.
  • If there is a post-match meal, then accompany your opposite number to the correct table.

Knowledge of the above will make you a more respected bowler.  Keep things friendly and contribute towards the enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, both on and off the green.

Bowling is a friendly game and all players should show courtesy and good sportsmanship.