The etiquette of bowling

Bowling News


I came across this article on the etiquette of lawn bowls on the Vale of Leven Bowling Club website which doesn't seem a million miles away from the unwritten etiquette of crown green bowling. So I thought I would share it with you for interest and maybe even comment.

Many of our older players will say that twenty or thirty years ago much more attention was paid to bowling green etiquette. In my experience this is true but fortunately lawn bowls remains one of the few sports where common courtesy and etiquette is still prevalent. We should be proud of this and in order to make the game as enjoyable as possible bowling green etiquette should be promoted to members old and new. Much of this is common sense but here are some of the main rules of etiquette.


Dress appropriately and ensure that you know the dress code for each game or match in which you are participating. Do not show disrespect for your opponent(s) by arriving late, ensure that you leave sufficient time to change before the game. If you are representing the club on another bowling green you should remember that you are an ambassador for the Vale of Leven Bowling Club so please behave appropriately.


Starting the Game

Enter and leave the bowling green by the steps provided. Do not walk across rinks that other people are using and do not stand or sit on the banks while waiting to play. Note that it is not the banks that are the main problem. We have artificial banks that will withstand some abuse but people sitting on the banks tend to place their feet on the edge of the green causing serious damage.


Introduce yourself if necessary and shake hands with your opponent(s) both before play commences and after the game is complete.


During the Game

During the game do not move around the head when your opponent is about to deliver his bowl. Stand well back from the head, keep quiet and do not do anything that would distract your opponent. Wait until the bowl has been delivered before moving.


If you are at the same end as the player delivering a bowl you must stand behind the mat, thus staying out of the player's line of vision. Here is what the Bowls Scotland rule says about this. 'Players of each team not in the act of playing or controlling play shall stand behind the Jack and away from the head or 1m behind the mat.'


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. On sunny days you must also ensure that your shadow does not fall on the jack.


Spectators who are in the player's line of vision should also keep still while bowls are being delivered and they should not distract players on the green. For example if you need to arrange a tie with another member don't try to do this while he is playing someone else!

At the Vale we are privileged to have two of the best bowling greens in the area. Look after them! Don't drop your bowls onto the green and ensure that your delivery is not causing scuff marks or otherwise damaging the green.


Place litter and cigarette ends in the bins and ashtrays provided for this and do not spit on the green.


Observe the rules for possession of the rink on the Bowling Green!

Here is the SBA ruling on this.

'Possession of the rink shall belong to the team whose bowl is being played. The players in Possession of the rink, for the time being, shall not be interfered with, annoyed, or have their attention distracted in any way by their opponents.

As soon as each bowl shall have come to rest, possession of the rink shall be transferred to the other team, time being allowed for marking a 'toucher'.'


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. This ruling is quite clear but unfortunately many players, including many of those who should know better, show disrespect for their opponents by failing to observe it.


How many times have you been on the mat, ready to play your bowl, when you have had to wait for your opponent to complete his stroll up the green or back to the mat? If your opponent is guilty of this you should ask him to stop. Remember that it's them that are in the wrong.


The SBA website is a bit more succinct than I have been.

Here's what it says about etiquette.

Bowling Green Etiquette Hints for Beginners

1. Players should use the steps provided when going on or off the Bowling Green. 2. Bowls should not be dropped on the Green. 3. Do not stand on the verges. 4. Matches, cigarette ends, etc., should be placed in the litter-baskets and not in the Ditches. 5. Bowls should not be kicked in until the shot has been decided. 6. After delivering a Bowl, a player should either retire behind the Mat or advance to the head. He should not take up a position in between. 7. Don't delay the game. 8. Don't wander around or move about the head when a player is about to deliver a Bowl. 9. In a Fours Game, the 'second' keeps the score; in a Pairs Game the 'Skip' keeps the score. 10. Bowling is a friendly game and all players should show courtesy and good sportsmanship. 11. All Bowlers should know the Rules as laid down by the World Bowls Board. 12. Mobile Phones should not be used on or around the green.

After the Game you should once again shake hands with your opponent(s) and congratulate/commiserate with them appropriately.


It is also customary to offer to buy them a drink if you have won the game. Where a marker has been involved in a singles game you should also offer him a drink.


Knowledge of the above will earn you respect as a bowler. So keep things friendly and contribute towards the enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, both on and off the green.




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