Holtwhites Bowls Club - Rink Etiquette


The most important thing is to enjoy your game and not to spoil the game for others. High standards of politeness are usually maintained. This is re-enforced by the custom of introducing and greeting each other, always shaking hands at the end of the game and showing appreciation of a fine shot, whether for or against.

It is impolite to clap a bowl that has gone wrong for your opponent and given you the advantage. Although feeling gleeful inside, only a simple 'bad luck' comment is called for. Do not clap a lucky shot for your own side; you may be pleased but acknowledge it was luck not skill.

Always consider other players before you take any action, in particular players on an adjacent rink, especially if they are playing a competition. If there is rink space, leave a gap link.

Never stray on to another person's rink and try to walk up the middle of the rink as you go to the head. Walk as quickly as you can so as not to slow the game.

Possession of the rink transfers to the opposition as soon as your bowl comes to rest. You may not ask or answer questions unless you have possession and you must be either behind the mat or behind the jack as soon as your bowl comes to rest. Remember, as the skips or three's change ends, if it is not your turn to bowl, you cannot stop and discuss tactics and impede the other player if they are on the mat. If you want a lengthy discussion, wait at the head until the rink belongs to you. Never walk up the rink in front of the player who has just bowled. They are still in possession.

Before walking past the end of a rink, check that no-one is about to bowl towards you. If there is, wait until the jack or bowl has left their hand.

Even when your bowling is of a social nature, do not let chatting take first place but concentrate on your game and do not turn your back on a bowl. Concentration wins games!

Although you should always try and do as your skip asks, you may ask if you see it another way and they may agree for you to try, but remember that the skip is in charge.

When not bowling, 'ones' and 'twos' should stand well behind the head but within the confines of the link you are playing on. Although each game is a team game, it is usual for the three’s and skips to make the decisions as to playing shots.

The result of an end in triples and fours is decided by the 'twos' and 'threes' respectively, other players standing clear of the head. If a decision cannot be made and an umpire is called in to measure, ALL players stand well clear of the head.

It is inappropriate, and against the rules, to play on a rink on the same day before playing in a competition on the same rink.

Read your club rules carefully and get hold of a copy of the Laws of the Game to read. There are so many rules that it will take a long time to learn them all but you will be surprised at how much you do not know. Do not be afraid to ask a competent person if you are unsure.

Be a good club member. Put your name down on the availability lists for as many friendly games as you are able.


New Bowlers. These games are for everyone to play and your game will improve whilst playing in friendly matches. The club captain will let you know soon enough if they think you are ready for the club competitive matches. Also enter the club competitions, especially singles.

Most of all, enjoy your bowling.

August 2014