Laws of the Game

​​​​​​​Lawn Bowls is currently governed by the Sport of Bowls - Crystal Mark Fourth Edition. These laws should be read in conjunction with the domestic regulations for Bowls New Zealand.
It is the responsibility of all players to make themselves aware of the laws which are available for purchase from your club.
But please remember, no laws governing a sport can cope with every situation and lawn bowls laws are no exception. They have been drawn up in the spirit of true sportsmanship so if a situation arises that is not covered by the laws, common sense and a spirit of fair play should be used to decide on an appropriate course of action.


One of the greatest attributes of lawn bowls is the opportunity it gives to foster sociability and camaraderie among fellow bowlers. And as part of this, it is important that some conventional courtesies and standards are observed on and off the green.

  1. On tournament and club days, try to arrive early enough to assist with preparation of play (scrims, scoreboards, mats, jacks, etc)
  2. Visiting Players should not be left to their own devices – they are our guests for the day and should be made to feel welcome.
  3. Hand the jack to the opposing lead when he/she has placed the mat and have their first bowl ready to hand to them. This friendly gesture sets the tone for the game.
  4. All players should have their next bowl in their hand by the time the opposing player has delivered their bowl. Scrambling around searching for your bowl is not acceptable, especially in a time game.
  5. All players should stay stationary and quiet behind the player delivering the bowl so as not to affect their concentration.
  6. Do not walk up the rink in front of the player who has just delivered the last bowl to be played. Wait until they start moving up the rink.
  7. No bowls should be touched or moved until the end is declared and then help return the bowls to behind the mat.
  8. Warn players on adjoining rinks if a drive is about to be played and be ready to try and stop any bowls going into other rinks and disturbing their heads.
  9. Possession of the rink and mat passes to your opponent once your bowl comes to rest or becomes dead. If you are on the head, you can only make comments and see what position your bowls are in if you are in possession of the rink.
  10. It is unlawful as well as discourteous to encroach on adjoining rinks.
  11. It is a courtesy for the “Three” or middle player of the team who has won the previous end to place his skip’s bowl on the mat before joining the other players at change over.
  12. Negative or disparaging remarks directed at the opposing team or players is not good sportsmanship.
  13. Congratulate an opponent on a well- played bowl and don’t grizzle if they have a lucky shot. You will get your share of rubs and wicks and they generally balance out in a game.
  14. Do not forget that Bowls is first and foremost a sport and should be treated as such. Be gracious in defeat.
  15. Always avoid unseemly language and behaviour and have consideration for your own players and opponents.
  16. Disturbing the head before an opponent has a chance to determine the results is illegal and unacceptable. No bowls should be moved until both teams, or opposing players in singles, agree on the number of shots scored.
  17. Leads and twos should remain behind the head or mat when not in possession of the rink and should not crowd the head or offer advice when bowls in contention are being measured – this is the job of the Three (or middle person).
  18. The skip should set high standards by being scrupulously fair. They should not belittle team members who are performing indifferently, but instead provide encouragement. Rewarding well played shots with a clap or friendly word of praise does wonders for team morale.
  19. Keep general chatter to a minimum and don’t wander from rink to rink.

And above all, enjoy yourself.