FAQs and Advice for Bowlers and Markers

Assuming trials ends are played (they are not compulsory) , not more than two – one in each direction. In a trial end, the mat and jack can be placed anywhere provided standard rules of the game (you can find a link to those on this page LINKS)are followed.

Yes. You can also start the game with a different set providing they comply with the rules on valid bowls.

No.  You can ask your opponent to start.

The opposing lead must deliver the jack and can set the mat where preferred. If the jack is delivered into the ditch again, then it is set at the 2 metre mark, with the mat placed by the original lead.

No – but one foot at least must be on or over the mate, at the moment of delivery. If not, a foot fault has been committed.

Yes, it must make contact with the jack before the next bowl to be played leaves the player’s hand. If it’s the last bowl to be played, it must touch the jack within 30 seconds of it coming to rest. So, if the bowls falls over at 29 seconds and touches the jack it is a toucher.

Yes,  it must be marked with chalk (spray or real), or nominated verbally to the opposing skip, before the next bowl played comes to rest.

If it isn’t a toucher, it becomes a dead bowl. Any bowls disturbed by it are restored as near as possible to their original position by a member of the opposing team. A toucher, and/or the jack, remains in play and disturbances caused by them are legal and valid.

Once the bowl has stopped, mark its position and angle and replace it with yours.

If the bowl is still moving towards the head, the opposing skip can stop it and return it to be played in the proper sequence. If it it has already stopped, providing it is still live and hasn’t disturbed the head, the player, who should have played, plays 2 bowls in succession, to restore the proper sequence,

If, however, it has disturbed the head, the opposing skip has 3 options:

  1. Leave things as they are and have his/her player play two bowls in succession
  2. Replace the head to its original position and return the bowl to be re-played in its proper turn
  3. Declare the end dead.

Remember a few general principles:

  1. Only the bowler who has possession of the rink can ask a question – possession ends when a bowl stops moving.
  2. Answer the question as helpfully as possible and apply common sense. You may add information that wasn’t specifically asked for if you know it makes sense to do so.
  3. If a bowl is a toucher, mark it on two sides so a mark will always be visible.
  4. Be alert to bowls coming onto the rink from adjacent rinks and stop them before they disturb the head. Equally, ensure bowls from the game you are marking do not disturb adjoining games.
  5. If you are unsure who holds shot when asked, be accurate and say that. Do not favour one bowl unless you are sure.

There are many other rules and principles when marking and these can be found here http://www.worldbowls.com/laws-umpiring/umpire-development/mark-during1/

Law 37.1.3  states that “if a bowl in its original course is deliberately displaced or stopped by a member of the team that delivered the bowl, the defaulting team will forfeit the game to the opponent.

Law  states that “if a player lifts a bowl at rest on their rink to allow their team’s bowl in its original course to pass, the defaulting team will forfeit the game to the opponent.

Laws are governed by World Bowls and you can see the latest edition of them here.


  • Keep quiet and stand still when someone is about to play a bowl

  • Stand well behind when your opponent is on the mat

  • Be ready to play when it’s your turn

  • Accept your skip’s instructions as to the hand he/she wishes you to play, unless they give you the option

  • If you decide to play a firing shot, warn those at the head

  • Remember the rules regarding possession of the rink. When a bowls comes to rest, you must be behind the mat or behind the head

  • Keep on your own rink

  • Stand well clear of the head – not in it

  • Compliment a team member or opponent for a good shot

  • Help with the collection of the bowls when an end is completed and you are at the mat end unless you are the lead and you have the jack

  • Be a good loser – don’t blame others on the rink

  • If you’ve entered club competitions ensure your ties are always played by the due date for each round

  • Always get a marker arranged for a singles game
  • Enjoy yourself and help others to enjoy the game too


  • Don’t drop your bowls – place them on the rink

  • Don’t walk across other players’ rinks

  • Don’t deliver your bowl before the previous bowl has come to rest

  • Don’t wander around or move about the head when a player is about to deliver a bowl

  • Don’t move any bowls until all the shots have been decided and agreed

  • Don’t cheer or applaud lucky bowls

  • Don’t complain about your opponent’s lucky bowls

  • Don’t waste time – if the result of a head is in doubt, then measure

  • Do not eat, drink or smoke on the green

  • Don’t walk behind/in front of the bowler who is standing on the mat preparing to bowl at either end.