BOWLS: A few Do’s and Don’ts for Novices

As a new bowler, you will more than likely be asked to play Lead in a game of tabs.

  1. First and foremost, take an interest in the game.
  2. Get to know the names of the bowlers in your rink. Get to know which bowls belong to who, and note who won the end so that you know when the jack is yours.
  3. After the toss to see which team goes off first and if the mat is not yours, find and give the mat and jack to your opposing lead and put up his/her bowl for him/her.
  4. Stand behind the mat in silence with the other bowlers whilst the jack is delivered.
  5. If after the toss, the mat is yours and after delivering your bowl, stay on the mat so that your Skip can show you how short or long you are.
  6. Listen to your skip – if, after a short end, the bowls are clustered 8 metres from the ditch then the call of ‘bring the mat up’ means rather than kicking all the bowls back 8 metres, bring the mat forward 8 metres.
  7. When it is your turn to play your second or third bowl (Trips), wait for your Skip to give you an instruction as to which hand to play.
  8. If as Lead you deliver the jack and it goes into the ditch, remain on the mat and when your Skip rolls it back, pick it up together with the mat and hand them to your opposing Lead. After he/she has delivered the jack, it is still in fact your mat, so be ready to deliver the first bowl.
  9. Keep to the confines of your rink.
  10. Don’t leave the mat side and start walking down the rink before the opposing 2nd’s bowl has come to rest or at least wait for him/her to start walking first.
  11. Keep still at the head and don’t wave you arms about when the Thirds and Skips play their bowls.
  12. You may ask questions discreetly; for example, why the Skip is asking for a particular hand or to explain a certain tactic.
  13. If when you are at the head, the jack is driven back by a bowl, all bowlers except the Skips should stand on the bank so as not to clutter the head. If it is a long end and bowls are in the 2 metre space between the jack and the bank – also stand on the bank.
  14. If a bowl touches the jack and then goes into the ditch, it will be marked as a toucher, and is regarded as “alive” and its position in the ditch clearly marked. DO NOT pick this bowl up.
  15. If an opponent’s bowl goes into the ditch, or goes out of the confines of your rink, out of courtesy ask “Can I remove the bowl” before lifting the bowl on to the bank. Do not stop the bowl before it reaches and lands in the ditch.  Be prepared to alert your Skip or Third to stop a bowl if it is veering into the next rink with reverse bias or if another bowl has hit the head and veered towards the next rink.
  16. Keep out of the head while the Thirds agree the count, measuring if necessary. Do not start kicking the bowls away until they agree on the count.  While the Thirds are responsible for the count, it is quite in order for a lead to suggest a bowl has been overlooked or to suggest a measure is taken.
  17. Help to kick the bowls back to a point to the right hand side of the mat – when facing the bank.
  18. Refrain from having a conversation while someone is on the mat.
  19. Don’t sit on the bank (Unless you have a very good reason).
  20. Never criticise the performance of your team mates – everyone is trying their best.
  21. If one of your opponents knocks up one or your team’s bowls to give you the shot, don’t show ANY excitement!! Quietly say “Bad luck”.

(source: Chartered clients and bowls enthusiasts, Laura and Ray Wilson)

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