top of page

Dos and Dont's - Bowls Etiquette

Bowls etiquette is all about good sportsmanship, common sense and good manners, and, although some items are, most are not specifically covered in the ‘Laws of the Sport’.


This guidance may be very useful for newcomers to the sport, but not exclusively to this category for many bowlers of long experience sometimes fall into ‘bad habits’, perhaps not being aware of doing so, and therefore these notes would be useful for them too. We play the sport for enjoyment, for the pleasure of pitting our skills against others, in friendly competition, and our sport has a long tradition for its good sportsmanship, courtesy and etiquette.


Here are some basic dos and don’ts:

  • Do be punctual for your game, being late is disrespectful to your opponents and your own colleagues too. Being rushed before an important game puts you at a disadvantage. Ensure you are dressed appropriately for the game you are about to play.​

  • Do introduce yourselves to your opponents with first names, shake hands before the game, with a friendly comment and welcome to the Island. such as ‘Welcome to the Island, have a good game’.

  • Do not, during the game, move about and make disturbing noises whilst an opponent is on the mat, nor stand in a position where you might be in your opponent’s line of vision, or in sunny conditions allow your shadow to cause distraction to the bowler. (The Laws of the Sport say a player should stand at least 1 metre behind the mat. 36.1.1)

  • When moving from one end of the rink to the other Do  try to keep to the centre and avoid disturbing those playing on adjacent rinks.

  • During the game, whilst at the ‘head end’ when an opponent is on the mat to deliver a bowl:

  • Do not move about in or near the ‘head’ as it can be a distraction to the one about to bowl.

  • Do stand well behind the ‘head’ when your opponent is on the mat, and, if the jack is in the ditch, stand on the bank behind the "Head".

  • In sunny conditions do not allow your shadow to cover the jack.

  • Do avoid obscuring rink centre or boundary markers.​

Bowling figure
  • At the conclusion of each end, unless you are the player responsible for measuring and agreeing shots scored, Do keep well away from the ‘head’, don’t interject and Do not under any circumstances ‘kick away’ or otherwise move any bowls in the head until the score has been clearly declared.

  • Do compliment your opponents, as well as your own colleagues, for a well delivered bowl. If your opponent has a ‘lucky’ result, do not make any derogatory comments, although you might think them. If one of your own players has a ‘lucky’ shot, please do not say ‘well bowled’ because it was not well bowled, it was a fluke. Do not use offensive language or gestures.

  • When playing or spectating, do not criticise the green, your own players, and more importantly your opponents. If you cannot say something positive it is better to say nothing.


  • Do pay attention to the game on your rink, it is very frustrating to your team-mates if they feel that you are not giving your full attention to the game by, for example, frequently leaving the green or chatting to players on another rink.


  • Anywhere within earshot of the green do switch off or at least turn your mobile phone to silent so as not to disturb other players.


  • Do treat the green you are playing on with care, it is costly to maintain, and everyone should try to deliver their bowls without ‘digging them’ into the turf.


  • Do be a gracious winner and a good loser. Shake your opponents’ and team mates’ hands afterwards and thank them for the game.


(Revised from Original Source:

bottom of page