Bowls Etiquette

ETIQUETTE I.E. 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 bowls etiquette, but 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 bowls 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 enough time to change before the game.  If you are representing the club on another green you should remember that you are an ambassador for Sully Indoor Bowls club. Behave appropriately.


Mobile phones should not be used on or around the green.


Enter and leave the bowling green safely, using access provided. Do not walk across rinks that other people are already playing on and do not stand in the ditch while waiting to play. Do not place your feet on the edge of the carpet as this can cause damage. Do not eat or drink on the green.


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


During the game do not move around the head when your opponent is about to deliver his/her 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 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 number while playing so make sure that you are not obscuring them.


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.


Do not drop your bowls onto the green and ensure that your delivery is not causing scuff marks on the carpet.


Observe the rule for possession of the rink!  Here is the rule 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 bowls progress you must be behind the head as it stops.  In other words, you must beat it to the head. Do not do this if you are playing a two-hour game as it delays play and limits the ends played. If you don’t go to the head, you must be behind the mat as your bowls stops.  This ruling is quite clear but unfortunately many players, including those who should know better, show disrespect for their opponents by failing to observe it.


Knowledge of the above will make you a more respected bowler, keep things friendly and continue towards the enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, both on and off the green.


Link: World Bowls Rules




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If you want to become a member or would like any more information regarding South Wales Bowls & Recreation Centre or maybe have a few lessons before you take the plunge. Please do not hesitate and call us on 02920 530999 or email

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