Because we all forget some of the things we learnt when we started playing bowls, etiquette appears to be somewhat lacking at times. Perhaps the following may serve as a useful reminder as etiquette is central to the sport of bowls and should always be observed:
Dress correctly for all games, and arrive in good time.
Mobile phones should be switched off during play and used with discretion while in the vicinity of the green.
Greet team members and opponents at the start of the game and congratulate or compliment them at the end of play. Shake hands at the start of the game and at its conclusion.
- Remember to thank the marker at the end of a singles game for sparing his/her time and offer a drink to your marker as well as to your opponent.
- Concentrate fully on the game and on all bowls as they are being delivered. In a competitive match, save socialising until afterwards.
- Be ready to bowl when it's your turn.
- Do not talk or make a noise behind the mat, or move at the head end, when a player is preparing to bowl.
- Remain behind the mat or behind the head when it is not your turn to play.
- Always remember that, as soon as your bowl has come to rest, possession of the rink (at both ends), passes to your opponent.
- Avoid obscuring the rink number, rink markers, or the jack.
- Outdoors, on sunny days, be aware of your shadow. Don't let it fall across the jack or head and don't allow it to fall in front of the mat when a player is about to bowl.
- Keep to your own rink. Don't become a wanderer and distract other bowlers. Walk down the centre of your rink when you are changing ends. Don't walk through the head.
- Be aware of players on the next rink, especially indoors.
- Don't walk past the end of a rink when a player is about to bowl towards you.
- Pick up the mat for your opponent after the last bowl has been delivered.
- Once the score has been agreed, everyone should help to clear bowls. 2s alter scoreboard after bowls have been kicked back, or pushed back by losing lead (if pushers are allowed). Losing lead can also put out bowl for winning lead, whose only concern is to put down the mat and deliver the jack. Skips fill in the scorecard outdoors.
- Take care of team members, and the head, when drive shots are being played, and warn others on adjacent rinks of the intended shot. One of the 3s could be ready to go in front of the head in order to see if the delivered bowl is a toucher.
- Encourage and praise the rest of the team, including the skip. Bowls is a team game; everyone should be working together.
- But don't applaud a team member who has outrageous luck.
- Admit a fluke with grace.
- Compliment your opponent on a good shot.
- Don't wave opponents' bowls through the head.
- Never criticise your opponents, the green, or your own team. If you cannot say something positive, don't say anything at all.
- Always appear to be enjoying the game.
- Be gracious whether you win or lose.
- Learn the laws of the Sport of Bowls and abide by them.
Good etiquette and manners make for a pleasant game and cost nothing.
Enjoy the game!
Denise Smith, BDA Senior Tutor, Revised October 2013