West Byfleet Bowls Club - Bowling Etiquette

Bowling Etiquette

Bowls is a sport where common courtesy and etiquette is a fundamental to an enjoyable game. Etiquette is promoted to existing and new members alike. Here are the simple principles of bowls etiquette:

  • Dress appropriately and ensure that you know the dress code for each game or match in which you are participating.
  • Don't show disrespect for your opponent(s) by arriving late. Leave sufficient time to change before the game.
  • Don't walk across rinks that other people are using and please do not stand or sit on the banks while waiting to play. Spectators who are in a players line of vision should also keep still whilst bowls are being delivered.
  • Introduce yourself and shake hands with your opponent(s) both before play commences.
  • During the game compliment your opponent on a good shot. Admit a fluke with grace. Never criticise your opponent, the greens, or your own team.
  •  Stand still when a player is on the mat and be ready to bowl when it is your turn. Players at the mat-end of the rink who are not delivering a ball should be legally at least 1 metre behind the mat.
  • Always remember that possession of the rink belongs to the player or team whose bowl is being played. As soon as the player's bowl has come to rest, possession of the rink passes to the opponent.
  • Remain behind the head when it is not your teams turn to play. Keep quiet and do not do anything that could distract your opponent. Ensure you are not obscuring the rink boundary markers or the centre pin while playing, as some players like to see them. On sunny days please ensure your silhouette does not cast a shadow onto the jack.
  • Stand well back from the head when drive shots are being played and warn others on adjacent rinks.
  • Always help to clear the bowls. The only player who is not clearing bowls is the player placing the mat.
  • Learn the Laws of the Sport of Bowls and abide by them.
  • After the game you should once again shake hands with your opponents and congratulate or commiserate with them as appropriate. It is customary for the home side players to buy their opposite number a drink after the game.

Knowledge of the above will make you a respected bowler and create a friendly game atmosphere, both on and off the green.

At West Byfleet we are privileged to have one of the best greens in the area. Please look after it. Avoid dropping your bowls onto the green and ensure that your bowls delivery is not causing scuff marks.


                                                                      The Players Roles in Team Games

In all team games it is the skip’s job to direct play. Other players should play the shot directed by the skip even if they don’t agree with it.

In fours games the “third” should direct the skip when required to do so. In Triples or Pairs the Second or Lead may do this. Other players should not interfere unless invited to do so.

Here is what rule 37 in the Laws of the Sport of Bowls says about players roles:

The Skip

  • The skip will have sole charge of the team and all players in the team should follow the skip’s instructions.
  • The skip should decide all disputed points with the opposing skip, making sure that any decision reached is in line with the Laws of the Sport of Bowls.
  • If the skip needs to check any part of the Law of the Sport of Bowls before reaching a decision, they should ask the umpire for an explanation.
  • If the skips cannot reach agreement on any disputed point, they should ask the umpire to make that decision. The umpires’ decision is final.
  • If the Controlling Body has not appointed an umpire, the skips should choose a competent neutral person to act as umpire.

The Skip should:

  • Be responsible for the score card supplied by the Controlling Body while play is in progress;
  • Enter the names of all players of both teams on the score card;
  • Record, on the score card, all shots scored for and against the team as each end is completed;
  • Compare the score card with that of the opposing skip as each end is completed; and
  • At the  end of the game, record on the score card the time that the game finished and then sign it.

The Third

  • The third can measure any and all disputed shots.
  • The third can tell the skip the number of shots scored for or against their team as each end is completed.

The Lead

The Lead of the team to play first in an end should:

  • Place the mat; and
  • Deliver the jack and make sure that it is centred before delivering the first bowl of the end.

In addition to the duties specified in the preceding commentary any player may undertake such duties as may be assigned to them by the skip. It is also worth empathising that the head must not be disturbed by any player until the shots have been finally agreed. When the Thirds or Skips are deciding the shots, the other players should stand well back from the head and give them space to do so.