The Etiquette of Bowls

These notes are intended to promote the acts of sociability that can contribute to the enjoyment of the game of bowls by those who play the sport.

Etiquette is conventional decorum. It is those little acts that help to make our game such a wonderful creation of sociability and friendship. Etiquette is not an explanation of the duties of the various players in the team, but it is those little extras that give the Royal ancient and agreeable pastime its great charm, that makes the loser feel he has not lost in vain, that lead one to believe there is even a sweetness in defeat.

J.P Munro B.A – a Noted historian of bowls

Conventional good manners relate to sociability and friendship rather that to duties and rules of the game. Etiquette is relevant to attire, nice customs and general behaviour.

Nice Customs

The following notes refer to applied good manners in respect of behaviour both on and off the rink and in play.

  • Be punctual of start times
  • Be polite and friendly to your opponents
  • Where appropriate introduce players to each other at the start of play.
  • Respect the laws of the game.
  • Do nothing to distract the bowler on the mat.
  • Do not move at either end of the rink where it may distract the player on the mat.
  • Stay clear of the green or at least a metre behind the mat or the longest live bowl.
  • Watch your bowl until it stops and learn from the shot.
  • Concentrate on the game and the state of play.
Mobile phones

Are a distraction to fellow bowlers. As a matter of courtesy, mobile phones must be on silent mode at all time and not used in the vicinity of the Bowling Rinks.

In play

  • Leads should place the mat as quickly as possible.
  • Offer your opponent the jack or bowl as appropriate.
  • Do not cross into adjoining rinks after delivery of your bowl.
  • Stay towards the centre of your rink when changing ends and walk smartly between ends.
  • Take care not to deliver a bowl when it may contact a delivery being made on an adjoining rink.
  • Take care with the return of any bowls in the even of a dead end so that adjoining rinks are not disturbed.
  • On change over place the relevant Skip’s bowl on the mat.
  • Seconds should agree on the score at each end and advise the skips.
  • Respect the green surface and protect it at all times.

Observations

  • Excuses for bad play should not be blamed on the condition of the green, wind or other weather conditions. These conditions are the same for all players.
  • Remember that almost without exception bowlers have good and bad days or Lady Luck seems to be on the other side. These factors will inevitably affect the game being played.
  • The player having a bad day may respond to encouragement rather than criticism.
  • Members should come firstly to play and enjoy themselves as well as the improve their ability to play the game.
  • Any criticism should be constructive and given in a friendly manner.

Communications

The following actions will improve the enjoyment and the understanding of any game or match:

  • Commend an opponent or one of your own team members for a good bowl.
  • Watch out for your Skip’s directions before stepping onto the mat.
  • Only advise the Skip when asked.
  • Anwer request from the Skip clearly and concisely.
  • If measuring, allow your opposition player the opportunity to check the result to confirm the decision.

Attire

Dress standards are designed to maintain uniformity and add a charm to the playing of the game of bowls. BBC has adopted a policy of smart casual i dress on all days. The exception is when you are representing the Club against other Bowling Clubs or you are playing in a competition event – in those circumstances the following dress code applies in general terms:

  • Long white/cream trousers or track pants with cream/white socks and smooth soled, heel-less shoes.
  • Club shorts of a approved design with a long or short cream/white socks and shoes as above.
  • Cream or white shirts with appropriate insignia.
  • Cream or white cardigans/pullovers or blue fleece vests.
  • Appropriate jackets.
  • Mufti dress require smart casual clothes and regulation shoes.

Further reading

It is suggested that interested bowler should obtain copies of appropriate manuals and instructional books relating to the law of bowls and technical requirements.

Suggested texts: Laws of the Sport of Bowls and Introduction to Bowls (BCIB Insurance Brokers).