Lawn Bowling Etiquette

Lawn bowling is known for friendliness and courtesy with respectful behaviour being very much part of the game. Bowling etiquette is about making the game fun for everyone, is mostly common sense and includes shaking hands before and after the game, remaining still and quiet when others are bowling, being aware of where to stand when it is not your turn and offering congratulations for good shots on both teams.

Bowling etiquette includes other protocols such as :-

  • Possession of the ‘head’. The team with the mat has possession of the head. When the bowl has been delivered and comes to rest, possession passes to the other team. Only members of the team in possession are allowed into the head. ALL OPPOSITION TEAM MEMBERS MUST STAY OUT OF THE HEAD! This is particularly true when changing ends before the Skip bowls.

  • When it is your turn to bowl, make sure you are ready to step onto the mat as soon as your opponent's bowl comes to rest.

  • Return all bowls to the right of, and at least one metre behind, the mat when the end is over. If this is done with the aid of a rake, it is the Lead of the team that lost the last end that normally uses the rake. The Lead from the winning team collects the jack and quickly sets the mat at the position requested by their Skip, ready for the next end.

  • If a scoreboard is used, it is the losing Skip or the losing Vice who changes the board.

  • When communicating between ‘mat’ and ‘head’ it is preferable to use signals rather than yelling. See section on Hand Signals.

  • If it becomes necessary to measure to determine which bowl is closest to the jack, this measuring is normally carried out by the Vice that is conceding more than one shot or by mutual consent if it is for first shot. Be gracious if the opposing Vice wishes to check this measurement for them self. Anyone can ask for a measurement or a re-measure, but please don’t delay the game unnecessarily. If still in doubt call in an umpire, or an independent person from another game to measure for you.

  • Dead bowls are removed from the ditch and placed on the bank.

  • Please avoid using mobile phones on the green except for emergencies.

  • It is also good form to help with setting up equipment and returning it to the storage shed after the game.

The following is an excerpt from the Lawn Bowlers Handbook published by Bowls  Canada :-

  • Shake hands before and after a game.

  • Do not distract your opponent when they are standing on the mat preparing to bowl.

  • Commend a good bowl delivered by either team.

  • Admit a fluke with grace.

  • Do not thank an opponent for an unintended result that improves your position.

  • Avoid orally encouraging bowls.

  • Protect the green; that is, do not bounce bowls or wear heeled shoes.

  • Avoid leaving the green for long periods during the game.

  • Do not stray onto neighbouring rinks.

  • Return equipment to the shed after the game.

  • Remain behind the mat or behind the head when it is not your turn.

  • Move from the mat as soon as your bowl has come to rest.

  • Do not obstruct your opponent’s view of the path of a bowl in course.

  • Stand still and be quiet when others are on the mat, particularly if you are in their line of vision.

  • Avoid obscuring boundary pegs or rink markers.

  • Play as a team, support all team members.

  • Avoid commenting on players’ poor bowls.

  • Be gracious in victory and in defeat.