Lawn Bowls Etiquette: A Guide for New Bowlers

Lawn Bowls Etiquette: A Guide for New Bowlers

Lawn Bowls has a set of concrete rules, but like cricket, it also has a softer set of guidelines. These unspoken rules of etiquette make the game flow pleasantly for all involved.

In essence, bowls etiquette is the code of behaviour that, if followed, ensures that bowlers generally treat each other with respect. There’s no place in bowls for argument or vulgarity, and players are expected to consistently uphold good behaviour.

Here’s a guide to some of the finer points of lawn bowls etiquette to help you make sure you stay in both your teammates’ and opponents’ good books.

Stand still at the head end when someone is about to bowl.

The bowling player needs to concentrate, and there’s nothing more distracting than somebody moving around behind the bowls he’s aiming for. Give them the courtesy of holding yourself still while they make their play.

Lawn Bowls Etiquette

Image Courtesy Malcolm Tredinnick

Avoid walking on to adjacent rinks.

Bowls clubs usually arrange their rinks in parallel, which means there may well be people playing an entirely separate game next to you. Be aware of where the neighbouring rinks are, and avoid walking on them when you make your way to the jack, the clubhouse, or when walking from one side of the green to the other.

Acknowledge skillful bowling

Closely-fought bowls matches bowls can be a consuming engagement, but it’s bad form to get so involved that you don’t acknowledge good bowling. Make a point of congratulating opposing players on exceptional shots or game-winners, even if it was hardly what you were hoping for. A respectful clap or friendly on the back goes a long way to maintaining the congenial spirit of the game.

Acknowledging good Lawn Bowls

Flickr Image Courtesy Lhourahane

Bowl… don’t drop!

Bowling greens are delicate arenas, and it’s easy to cause damage by throwing or dropping a bowl. Different players have different delivery styles, but it’s polite to make sure your technique isn’t damaging the green or causing scuff marks. If it is, try and bowl more gently. And it goes without saying that you should never pick up and drop bowls out of laziness… pick up and put down, or kick them along with your feet.

Lawn Bowls Release

Flickr Image Courtesy Dondj2

Enter and leave the mat on the correct side.

It’s pretty simple really – when you’re ready to bowl, step on to the mat from the left – and when you’ve bowled your bowl, step off the right side of the mat. It’s standard protocol, and it’s intended to stop you colliding with the next player, who may be arriving at the mat just as you’re leaving.

Lawn Bowls Mat Etiquette

Flickr Image Courtesy Blake Handley

Signal to your teammates from the head end.

As you probably know, it’s difficult to see the results of your bowl without walking down the green to take a closer look. So if you’re at the head watching you teammate bowl, then you need to remember to let them know whether their bowl hit the opponent’s or their own. Tap the knee to signal that the struck bowl belongs to the opposing team, and tap the shoulder to indicate it’s one of yours.

And lastly… shake hands!

It shouldn’t really need mentioning, but sometimes after a bitter defeat there’s a strong urge to just exit the green as soon as possible. Do remember to shake hands with your opponent(s) though – you’ll be glad you held yourself to that benchmark of sportsmanship when you look back.

Shake Hands Lawn Bowls

Flickr Image Courtesy Thinboyfatter

Follow these tips and you’ll help to ensure a pleasant bowling experience for you, your team mates and your opponents. Bowls is a sport that attracts co-operative, considerate people – you’ll find that when you follow proper bowling etiquette, others will too, and your games will be that much richer as a result.


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