SIMPLE BOWLS ETIQUETTE
Be conversant with
the laws of the game and observe them.
Be punctual to
commence play and be correctly attired.
White must be worn
at all times. White polo shirts or shirts for men and white
trousers or knee length shorts. White dresses or tops and
skirts or regulation shorts or white trousers in inclement
weather for ladies. (Grey skirts or trousers are accepted
from visiting teams from the UK).
Keep quiet and
refrain from moving when players are on the mat.
behind the mat while your opponent bowls.
Always stand still
at the head when a player is about to bowl.
Walk close to the
centre of a rink with minimum delay when changing ends, so
as not to distract players on adjacent rinks.
Do not delay play.
Always play your bowl with the minimum delay.
Never deliver your
bowl before the previous one has come to rest.
Keep track of
play. Be ready when it is your turn.
should assist in collecting bowls when the head is
Always pay your
skip the respect of waiting for his or her decision. Never
step onto the mat and indicate which way you intend to play.
Wait for the skips instructions!
lucky bowls accept them graciously.
about lucky bowls, they equal themselves out long term.
Do not drop bowls
onto the green, respect it all times.
Always inform your
opponent if you wish to leave the green.
Be a good loser!
Win or lose always
shake hands with your opponent and thank them for the game.
opponent a drink after the game.
PSYCHOLOGY OF BOWLING
Bowls is a science,
the study of a lifetime, in which you may exhaust yourself,
but never your subject. It's a contest, a duel calling for
courage, skills, strategy and self-control. It is a test of
temper, a trial of honour, a revealer of character. It affords
the chance to play the man and act the gentleman. It means
going into God's out-of-doors, getting close to nature, fresh
air, exercise! A sweeping away of mental cobwebs, genuine
reaction of the tired tissues.
It is a cure for care, an antidote to worry. It includes
companionship with friends, social intercourse, opportunities
for courtesy, kindliness and generosity to an opponent. It
promotes not only physical health but moral force.
THE ETIQUETTE OF MARKING
A good marker is not
only an asset to a club, but he adds considerably to the
enjoyment of the game by players and spectators alike, and the
pity of it is that there are so few about.
It is not
sufficiently appreciated that a singles match is essentially
an elimination contest in which the players take the game
seriously and therefore the marker should likewise accept and
perform his duties in a serious manner. The game requires the
players to exercise their maximum powers of concentration, and
all they ask from a marker is his undivided attention, which
should be given firstly as a matter of courtesy, secondly as
an interesting study of the individual player's capabilities,
and thirdly because it provides an opportunity for learning
more about the game even if it be only what not to do.
A good marker, in
whom the players have complete confidence, materially
contributes to the quality of their game. It is a much
mistaken notion that anyone can undertake the duties. No
novice should ever volunteer to mark a game until he is
completely versed in the duties of a marker, as set out in the
Laws, and even then not until he has carefully studied other
markers and their actions. In the closing stages of an
Association event, when markers are carefully selected, the
novice will do well to particularly study these officials.
A marker should be
an experienced bowler and a good judge of distance.
"Experienced" does not mean a very good bowler, as there are
excellent markers who have never been first-class bowlers, but
they have had experience in the game and have found the job a
pleasant and interesting one, as it undoubtedly is.
Far too many markers are distracted by the spectators and
their comments, but could they "hear" the thoughts of the
players they would quickly realise where their "reputations"
were going. In matches, other than club events, a marker is
virtually "wished" upon the players, and his efficiency, or
lack of it, becomes a reflection on the club management, for,
to the players, the marker IS the club for the time being.
This aspect is one that club officials should remember, and
should not hesitate to decline the services of non-competent
The minimum requirement of a marker is that he shall know the
duties as set out in the Laws, but few there be that fulfil
even this standard. Fewer still are definite on what is meant
by "jack high", yet the Laws contain an official definition,
which clearly states what is meant in answer to this very
Before proceeding to the Head End the Marker should extend the
hand of friendship to both players and make himself fully
conversant with the ownership of the respective bowls.
Certainly, in Association events and at least in club finals,
the Marker should pay a compliment to the contestants by being
correctly attired according to the Laws.
Before aligning the
jack he should check whether the mat has been correctly laid.
He should then retire to the position indicated in the Laws,
until the first bowl has been delivered, and, during its
course, proceed to alter the score board (if at that end)
returning to his position in time to observe whether the bowl
becomes a "toucher". If possible a spectator should be asked
to manipulate the score board, in which case he should be
instructed not to do so during the period a player is on the
mat prior to making a delivery. The exact position for a
marker to stand is purposely not stated in the Laws, but the
usual and generally acceptable position is from two to three
metres (approximately 6 to 8 feet) behind the jack and two
metres (approximately 6 feet) to one side, depending on the
location of his shadow. Any extensive increase in these
distances is undesirable as it involves a greater delay in
answering a question.
A marker should remain motionless at his chosen spot with his
attention and eyes fixed on the player whose turn it is to
bowl so as to observe whether a question is asked, as quite
frequently the question is not expressed in words, but in an
action, such as holding an arm up indicating the question: "Am
I the shot?" The marker's reply can then be given silently by
an action (up or down) and in so doing no information is
necessarily disclosed to the opponent unless he happens to
observe the actions. In general a good marker is able to
anticipate a likely question as the result of his own
experience, plus the fact that he is sufficiently close to the
head to know the position.
A marker must not move from his position except to observe
whether a bowl is likely to become a toucher or to answer a
question requiring a closer inspection. Under no circumstances
whatsoever must he move, even by simply leaning over or
turning sideways, to observe the head in order to satisfy his
own curiosity or to anticipate a possible question. To move in
any way is definitely contravening a Law as it gives an
indication to the players of a possible change in the position
that is not apparent to them. A marker must realise that the
resultant effect of a bowl is not his concern, and any
personal interest he may have in a player must not be shown. A
biased marker is an anathema.
It is somewhat
surprising that so many players ask so few questions during a
match and yet on reaching the head are so frequently heard to
remark on the position being different from what they thought.
Even if players have every confidence in their marker they
become reluctant to ask a question if it involves a walk to
the head by the marker because of the time delay in getting an
answer. Therefore it is very essential for the marker to be
alert and adjacent to the head.
The only player entitled to ask a question is the one whose
turn it is to bowl, but he does not necessarily have to be
standing on the mat, as some markers seem to think. One other
point that every marker should always remember is that an
inefficient marker can frequently be justifiably blamed, by
the loser, for the result of the game, and that is something
to be avoided at all costs.
In conclusion, this brief treatise would be incomplete without
setting out a few of the major "Don'ts" to be observed
questions that are being asked in an adjacent rink.
Concentration and attention to the man on the mat will
prevent this happening.
Don't say the shot
is doubtful if it is not really so. Experience at judging
distances is something that can be acquired by anyone,
provided they will indulge in a little practice on their
own. It is most disconcerting to be told it is "up and down"
and then find your opponent is at least one or more without
even a measure.
Don't forget to
immediately advise the player if a bowl falls over and
alters the position after a question has been answered or an
inspection of the head has been made by the player.
Don't give a
misleading answer to a badly-worded question. A marker is
entitled to ask the player to restate or clarify his
question to enable an intelligent answer to be given.
This particularly applies to such a question as: "Am I one
down?" when he may be three down and to answer "Yes" or "No"
is equally correct and incorrect, such a question is
definitely a badly worded one. The proper form is: "Am I
more than one down?" or "How many down am I?"
your answer with information not asked for. Remember, every
answer is common to both players and the questioner may not
wish to gratuitously give information to his opponent. For
instance, if asked to indicate which bowl is third shot, do
so, but do not say whose bowl it is, or if asked whether the
player is lying second shot, just say "Yes" or "No", but do
not add that he is also third shot or some such similar
information. The game provides ample scope for players to
indulge in tactics to outwit each other, and the marker must
be careful not to nullify their efforts.
Arrange with the
players before the match commences when they prefer touchers
to be marked. The general practice is to mark a toucher
immediately it has come to rest.
Don't forget HOW
to measure, as distinct from what to measure with. If you
suspect A's bowl to be the nearer one, measure that first
and then transfer to B's bowl, but on no account give an
immediate decision, even if the answer be obvious. It is
essential that the distance be transferred back to A's bowl
so as to be quite sure that no movement has occurred. In the
case of a really close measure, or where the players have
previously measured, and a tie is a possibility, it is wise
to repeat, at least once, the foregoing procedure before
giving a decision. Immediately you have satisfied yourself
as to the shot bowl, the best way to announce it is to move
the winning bowl so that there can be no misunderstanding.
Apart from satisfying the contestants it is just as
important that the spectators shall have witnessed a proper
Don't, under any
circumstances, suggest or invite a player to inspect the
head. To do so implies inability to give a satisfactory
If good marking be
not a science, it is at least an art that can be acquired by
any bowler who has the desire to become proficient, and in so
doing he will not only be increasing his own enjoyment of the
game, but will be contributing substantially to the enjoyment
of the players and spectators alike.
In the previous
remarks on Etiquette, three reasons were given as to why a
Marker should concentrate on the game and players to the
complete exclusion of any attention to the spectators. The
only permissible exception to this is during the crossover
when it is customary to advise spectators and score board
attendants by holding up the number of fingers indicating the
shots scored. The hand to hold up is the one on the same side
of the scoreboard as the player's name who won the end.
The first reason, that of courtesy to the players, need not be
further emphasised, but the second reason, that of studying an
individual's capabilities, warrants expansion. There is ample
opportunity to do this, but many Markers fail to avail
themselves of it, preferring to either chat with spectators or
sit on the bank or even do both of these objectionable things
from a player's point of view.
Probably the first
conclusion that a regular Marker will arrive at is that the
winner of a given game is not necessarily the better player.
This deduction is one that emerges from the fact that in so
many ways the fortunes of the game can be adverse for one
player and favour the other. A bowl that falls over against
its bias, a lucky shot that was not even attempted, a puff of
wind, or some irregularity in the green are some of many
fortuitous circumstances that come readily to mind. All of
which add up to the fact that it is not entirely without
justification that it has been described as an unfair game.
Not that any lover of the game would have it otherwise, these
hazards help to provide the enjoyment, and what is more
enjoyable than to have a victory over an admittedly better
player-such events are not exceptional.
So we come to the
first important lesson for a Marker to learn, that the
capabilities of a player must not be judged by the result
alone. Therefore, he must look elsewhere if he wishes to
honestly assess the ability of a player. The points upon which
he should concentrate his attention are the delivery-is it
smooth or does it wobble-is any attempt made to correct an
error, of green or length, even an over correction indicates
that the player knows his mistake-what type of shot is
attempted, independent of the actual result, and bearing in
mind that the head probably looks very different to the
player- the occasions on which a question is asked and,
equally important, the way it is asked as well as what is
asked for. All these, together with other individual
characteristics, will enable an observant Marker to reasonably
assess the relative abilities of the two players. The
opportunity thus provided is an almost compelling reason why,
in club competitions, those who undertake the duty of a
selector should avail themselves of every occasion presented
to them of acting as a Marker.
As for the third
reason given, that of learning more about the game, this again
is a matter requiring concentrated attention. To one who is a
card player an understanding of the game of bowls is
relatively simple on account of a similarity of combinations.
The actual playing of a card is simple and, so, basically, is
the delivery of a bowl. The correct card to play in a given
set of circumstances requires experience that can only be
obtained over a considerable period of time. Likewise the type
of shot to play requires experience quite apart from the
"know-how" of its delivery. There is virtually an infinitely
unlimited number of card combinations and no hand or
arrangement of associated hands ever repeat themselves.
Likewise in bowls, there have never been two heads exactly
alike although there are frequent repetitions of similar
situations requiring virtually the same type of shot. Even
identical circumstances can be dealt with in more than one way
and in determining the best shot to play, it requires not only
the ability of the player himself but an assessment of the
probabilities of error and the potentialities of the opponent.
And that brings us
back to the importance of studying the players for whom you
have the honour to be their Marker. It is particularly
important in your own club events because it is certain that
sooner or later one, if not both, will be your own opponent.
With the knowledge you can gain now, it could just give you
sufficient advantage to win, even against someone you admit is
generally a better player than yourself. The winning of such a
game supplies a greater thrill and more lasting pleasure than
any other type of play.
So make the most of the opportunity you are now enjoying.
The game of lawn
bowls has acquired a recognised international status,
nevertheless, complete uniformity in the Laws does not exist.
However, the general broad framework of all the various codes,
within which the nature of the game is identified, are
sufficiently alike to warrant acceptance by the International
Bowls Board. This Board has its own set of laws and many
national authorities adopt them in toto. Others use a set that
is regarded by them as being more complete and/or better
suited for their local conditions. This particularly applies
to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, although they are
all members of the I.B.B.
It would serve no
good purpose to set out in detail the precise requirements of
any or all of the various duties of a Marker. Even if they
were to be given there is always the possibility of an
alteration being made which would render the information
either misleading or entirely wrong. Therefore, it becomes
essential for a Marker to make himself familiar with the
particular code under which a game is being conducted, as well
as any special local conditions governing the competition.
It might well be stressed that an international competition
could be played under a set of laws that did not apply to the
country in which the games are being played. However, in such
a case the onus of providing a Marker with a copy of the exact
duties expected of him then becomes the responsibility of the
Fortunately, many of
the routine duties required are common to all codes and there
is virtually no likelihood of them being varied so they can
safely be listed as follows :
Assisting to straighten the mat.
Aligning the jack.
Marking a toucher, or removing a prior chalk mark.
Removing a dead bowl.
Replacing a disturbance caused by himself.
Answering questions of fact.
Recording the score.
Advising the players of each progress score.
Seeing that the score board is correct.
Handling the completed and signed score card to the proper
In addition, the Marker must never forget that the main
purpose for his presence is to assist the players to enjoy the
game, as well as to facilitate the actual play, by only
answering the questions asked by the player next entitled to
bowl. This should be done quickly and accurately so as to
avoid the necessity of the players having to make a personal
inspection of the head.
MARKER AS UMPIRE
It may so happen
that a Marker is requested to also be the Umpire, and in some
codes even his normal status is automatically virtually that
of an Umpire. In either case it becomes imperative that he be
well versed in the more comprehensive and important duties of
this official. Under these circumstances he would be wise to
have with him a copy of the applicable laws.
The status of a
Marker and/or an Umpire varies considerably according to the
code of laws that are applicable. In some, their duties are
determined on the basic principle that under no circumstances
are players permitted to disregard any law and therefore these
officials are vested with initiative status. This enables them
to intervene at any time should they observe any breach. This
principle stems from the usual authority of similarly placed
officials in other forms of sport which generally involve some
degree of public support, particularly on an international
The opposite attitude is that Bowls is in no way similar to
other games, it being essentially a participants' recreation,
with little or no public appeal beyond the bowling fraternity.
In this case, the players themselves are morally bound to
observe the laws, but should a breach be mutually condoned
then no official has any authority to intervene. These
officials have a potential status which only becomes operative
if a player requests their services. In this school of thought
it is felt that the basic object of a match (excluding its
personal enjoyment) is to determine a winner and therefore it
is entirely a matter for the players to decide the precise
manner in which the result is achieved. This can obviously
vary from a walk-over, or forfeit, to the meticulous
application of every law. Any form of initiative status of an
official would be construed as an intrusion on the players'
personal enjoyment of the game.
between initiative and potential status are by no means
rigidly observed in the various codes, as several contain
something of both in a kind of compromise. The Marker may have
the right to prevent the playing to an under length distance
to the jack, whereas in other codes he may be expected to
check the width of the rink and other matter-of-fact details
which are usually left to the authority in charge of the green
and are, therefore, taken for granted. Such variations may
also apply to an Umpire. However, in any case the handy
whereabouts of suitable measuring devices, etc., should be
From what has been set out it will be realised that a Marker's
services involve a thorough understanding of the game and the
applicable code of laws and therefore the position should not
be undertaken in a light-hearted manner.
There would appear to be little likelihood of a complete
international uniformity of duties and status until the
fundamentally divergent points of view have been