- Advertisement -

Beautiful Dimples Darling

I received the following e-mail:

I recently played a match and one of my opponents had painted every other dimple on the bowl yellow. I happened to comment how colourful they were when one of his team-mates said: “ I have told him that he should not have painted them and they are now illegal.”

The question I ask you is are they illegal or not?

For the answer to the question we have to look at Law 8.3 ‘Alteration to Bias’ in the World Bowls Limited Laws of the Sport of Bowls and this states the following:


8.3.1. A player should not alter, or cause to be altered, other than by a licensed tester, any bowl imprinted with the registered World Bowls stamp in any way that would alter the bias of the bowl.

8.3.2 Any player breaking this law will be suspended from playing for as long as the Member National Authority of which the player’s club is a member decides.

8.3.3 The Member National Authority which suspended the player should give WB details of the suspension, and the suspension will apply among all Member National Authorities.

8.3.4 Players or owners who colour the grooved rings or dimples on the bowl for decoration are not breaking this law.

So, painting the grooves or dimples on your bowls is not illegal under the World Bowls Laws of the Sport of Bowls. The World Indoor Bowls Council Laws of the Sport of Indoor Bowls does not mention painting bowls for decoration in its law

book, so one can assume that it is NOT against the law and is therefore legal.

Practise Makes an Unfair Advantage?

Here’s another e-mail:

Having received conflicting reports on the question I have asked from umpires and my heads of coaching, I would be very grateful if you would interpret the meaning of the wording in Law 15 (i) Practise i.e: “who has previously played on the same day.”

This is due to a club and county ladies’ triples final played on my club green. Both teams were waiting to commence the game on rink two, with the exception of one lady, who had arrived some time earlier, and was practising on rink five. When the game was about to start, she wandered over and joined her team.

Although I don’t think much advantage was gained as some greens do fluctuate considerably in hot and cold conditions, as no team member on either side had previously played earlier on the green, my question is: Was the lady in question in the wrong for practising, as most finals etc, have a two-bowl up and two-bowl down practise, before commencing the game properly?

I realise it states (b) providing a rink is available, other than the one which the team has been drawn to play on, but I think the wording “who has previously played on the same day” comes into the equation first, and that the member in question was wrong to practise.

Finally, being a club coach, the correct interpretation of the laws of the sport must be my first priority in the coaching and teaching of newcomers.

Geoff Mealing

Thank you Geoff for your question. Firstly, let us look at the law which covers “Practise” in the World Indoor Bowls Council Laws of the Sport.


(i). A player or team due to meet a player or team who has previously played on the same day, may practise provided…

(a). there is sufficient time available without delaying the competition, and

(b). a rink is available other than one upon which the player or team has been drawn to play in a subsequent round.

(c ). may be allowed for a team with a bye, notwithstanding that the team or player may have already played on the same green on the same day.

(ii). The Controlling Body shall allocate the rink:

(a). if two players or two teams are entitled to practise they may practise together, and

(b). the format of practise and the number of bowls used in

such practise shall be at the option of the players concerned.

The answer to the question posed can be found in the first paragraph of Law 15:

“A player or team due to meet a player or team who has previously played on the same day, may practise.”

If none of the players had played on the green on that day then NO practise is allowed. Practise is only allowed if a player or team has played on the green previously that day and their opponents had not.

Therefore, the lady in question was wrong to practise. Although she was on a different rink, it was the same green.

Had she been practising on the same rink then the laws are very clear. Law 13 ‘Selecting the Rinks for Play’ states the following:


(iii). No player in a competition or game shall play on the same rink on the day of such competition or game before play commences, under penalty of disqualification.

This shall not apply in the case of open tournaments.

For those readers who play outdoors, the World Bowls Laws of the Sport of Bowls covers this in Law 13 ‘Practise’ and, the start of the law, is more clearly stated than the WIBC law.


13.1. If a player or team that has not yet played is due to meet a player or team that has already played on the same day, the player or team that has not yet played can practise as long as…

Thus, unless your opponents have played on that day at the green, you should not practise.