Etiquette & The Laws for Bowlers

Bowls is one of the few sports where true sportsmanship still prevails. This is a position that should be guarded jealously and, by following the few simple principles listed below, you can help to maintain the sportsmanship and courtesy that has characterised the game of bowls for so many years.


Before the game

  1. Check that you know the correct dress for the occasion, and wear it.
  2. Make sure you know the starting time of the game and be there in sufficient time to change your footwear, and be on the green ready to start at the appointed time.
  3. In a team game be there in time to welcome your guests.

During the game

  1. Enter and leave the green by the steps provided.
  2. Do not drop your bowls on the green.
  3. Shake hands with your opponents before and after the game.
  4. Do not sit on the steps or the banking.
  5. Do not drop litter in the ditches – use the receptacles provided.
  6. Stand still and keep quiet while your opponent is about to play.
  7. Do not infringe the laws of rink possession (see Law 12).
  8. Wait until the result of the end has been decided before kicking in the bowls.
  9. If you are responsible for keeping the score, compare your card with that of your opponent at regular intervals. If your scoreboard is in use, make sure it agrees with your card and the card of your opponent.
  10. Unless you have been delegated to decide the shots at the completion of the end, do not interfere in any way with this process.
  11. If an Umpire has been called, stay well clear of the Head until a decision has been made.
  12. If you have lost the game, remember to congratulate your opponent.
  13. Never be heard to criticise the green or your opponent.
  14. Acknowledge a ’fluke’ and comment on an opponent's good bowl.

The Laws

  1. Placement of the mat

  2. A minimum of 2m from the ditch and a maximum of 25m from the ditch, in line with the centre of the rink.

  3. Movement of the mat

  4. Should the mat be moved during an end, it can be replaced to its original position by either player.

  5. Position on the mat

    1. Before delivery a player should be standing on the mat with one foot fully on the mat. At the moment of delivery of the jack or a bowl the player should have all or part of one foot on or above the mat.
    2. Before delivery a player using an approved wheelchair should have one wheel on the mat, and at the moment they deliver the jack or a bowl the player should have all or part of one wheel on or above the mat.
    3. Any player not meeting the terms of the law is committing a foot fault.
  6. Minimum length of Jack

  7. The minimum length Jack is 23m from the front edge of the mat.

  8. Jack improperly delivered

  9. Should the Jack be improperly delivered by the first to play, then it shall be delivered by the opposite player, who may move the mat if they so wish. Should both players deliver improperly, the Jack is placed at the 2m mark with the mat placed at the option of the first to play.

  10. A live bowl

  11. Any bowl which, in its original course on the green, comes to rest within the boundaries of the rink and not less than 14m from the mat, shall be considered a live bowl.

  12. A dead bowl

  13. Any bowl which comes to rest outside the confines of the rink or, not being a Toucher, comes to rest in the ditch, shall be deemed a dead bowl and removed from the rink.

  14. A Toucher

  15. Any bowl which, on its original course on the green, touches the Jack, shall be deemed a Toucher.

  16. Marking a Toucher

    1. A bowl, which has touched the Jack in its normal course up the green, shall be marked immediately it comes to rest. If it ends in the ditch, then a marker shall be placed on the bank immediately above the bowl.
    2. Should the act of chalking the bowl create the danger of it being moved, then it can be nominated as a Toucher and marked later should it be moved during the end.
    3. After being delivered should a bowl ome to rest close to the Jack and subsequently fall on to the Jack, provided the next bowl has not been delivered by the next player, it becomes a Toucher.
  17. Movement of a Toucher in play

  18. A Toucher in the ditch may be moved by either the Jack or another Toucher when played into the ditch. Should a Toucher be moved by a non-Toucher, the Toucher is replaced to its original position as marked.

  19. A rebounding Jack

  20. If a Jack is driven against the face of the bank and rebounds on to the rink, it shall be left where it rebounds and played to as if it had not left the rink.

  21. Possession of the rink

    1. Possession of the rink belongs to the player or team whose bowl is being played. Immediately the bowl comes to rest the possession belongs to the other player. Nothing shall be done by the team not in possession to disturb or distract the player on the mat.
    2. When not in possession of the rink the place for the other players is either at least 1m behind the mat or, if at the Head end, behind the Head. The Head is the bowls already delivered.
  22. Duties of the players

    • The Skip

    • The Skip shall have sole charge of the team, and their instructions shall be observed by the players. With the opposite Skip they will decide any disputed points and if they cannot agree then an independent person shall decide, with their decision being final.

    • The Third

    • The Third player may have deputed to him the measuring of any shots and shall be in charge of the Head in the absence of the Skip.

    • The Second

    • The player playing second shall keep a record of all shots scored for and against his team and at all times keep the score card in his possession. He shall ensure all names of both teams are entered on the card. At the end of the game he shall hand the card to the Skip.

    • The Lead

    • The Lead shall place the mat in accordance with the Laws of the Game, shall deliver the Jack, and ensure that it is centred before playing his first bowl.

  23. Measuring

  24. Measuring shall not take place until all bowls have been played, or should the Skip playing the last bowl decide not to play his bowl.

  25. Jack re-spotted

  26. Where the Jack has been played off the confines of the rink, DIBC Conditions of Play provide that this will not be treated as a dead end. Instead the Jack is re-spotted onto the re-spot marks placed left or right of the ’T’ in each rink depending on the side that the jack left the rink. If a bowl is occupying the re-spot, the jack is to be placed on the side facing the ’T’ and not in contact with any bowl.

  27. A tied end

  28. A tied end is when the shot cannot be determined by measure. The end is added to the score card with the previous shot totals brought down.

  29. Playing out of turn

  30. When a player has played out of turn, the opposing Skip shall have the right to stop the bowl before it reaches the Head, and it shall be returned to be played in the proper sequence.

    If the bowl has come to rest and remains live, or is dead, and has not disturbed the Head, then the opposing side will bowl two bowls in succession.

    If the Head has been disturbed the opposing Skip shall have three options:

    1. Allow the disturbed Head to remain and have two bowls played in succession to restore the sequence.
    2. Replace the Head to its original position and return the bowl so played.
    3. Declare the end dead.
  31. Omitting to play a bowl

  32. A player who has omitted to play their bowl in the proper sequence shall forfeit the right to play such a bowl if a bowl has been played by each team before the mistake was discovered.

  33. Game stopped by any reason

  34. When a game of any kind is stopped, either by mutual agreement or the Umpire or any other reason, the game shall be resumed with the scores as they were when the game was stopped. Any uncompleted end shall be declared dead.

October 2017


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