Good Manners for Bowlers and Spectators

Many of our older players will say that twenty or thirty years ago much more attention was paid to bowling green etiquette but 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. If you are representing the club on another bowling green you should remember that you are an ambassador for our Club. Behave appropriately.

For Spectators

  • Do not distract bowlers who are bowling towards you, by moving or walking across the end of the rink. Wait until the bowl has been delivered, then move.
  • It is not good etiquette to interrupt other players when they are on the green, particularly during competitive matches. If you need to speak to players it should be before or after their game.
  • Do nothing in your actions, words or appearance that will reflect against your Club.

Before the Game

  • Make sure you know the rules of the game or competition you are playing.
  • Know the correct dress (it will differ for different types of games) and ensure you arrive correctly dressed, with time to spare (don’t forget your shoes and bowls!).
  • [Home players] ensure that jacks, mats, scoreboards and other equipment are in place ready for the beginning of the game.

During the Game

  • Enter and leave the green by the banks and footpaths - do not walk across other players' rinks.
  • Bray are privileged to have one of the best bowling greens in the area. Look after it! Don't drop your bowls onto the green, and ensure that your delivery is not causing scuff marks or otherwise damaging the green.
  • Introduce yourself and shake hands with your opponent(s) both before play commences and after the game is complete.
  • Place litter and cigarette ends in the bins and ashtrays provided and do not smoke on the green.
  • 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.
  • Observe the rules for possession of the rink on the Bowling Green! Here is the 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'."
  • Players at the mat end of the rink who are not delivering a bowl should stand at least 1 metre behind the mat.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Similarly, standing directly behind a white jack in white shoes can make the jack difficult to see.
  • Follow the direction given by the 'skip', whether or not you agree. Remember that the directions for the 'skip' are only given by the number three in rinks, or the number two in triples. Other players should not interfere unless asked.
  • The result of each end (including measuring where required) is determined between the threes (or twos in triples). Other players should not normally interfere.
  • Do not disturb the head until the result of the end has been agreed.
  • Encourage, rather than criticise - no one delivers a bad bowl intentionally.
  • Commend good shots.
  • Learn to accept lucky shots, both for and against you - they will balance out in the long run. "Flukes are simply revelations of unrecognised opportunities."

After the Game

  • Shake hands. Congratulate the opposing team and offer to buy your opposite number a drink (after singles matches, your 'marker' should be included in the invitation). Remember that your opponent is a guest of the Club.
  • [Home players] ensure that jacks, mats, scoreboards and other equipment are returned to the hut.
  • Avoid making excuses for your lack of success the topic of conversation.

A knowledge of this etiquette will make you a more respected bowler, and will contribute towards the enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, both on and off the green.

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