Guidelines for Markers

Marking is an art and, like all other arts, takes time to master. The marker is an important official. A good marker can ‘make’ a game whilst a bad marker can ruin a game. The players deserve the best standards of a marker.

The below information has been sourced from the World Bowls website

Before the Game


  • Before starting the game indicate that you will mark touchers before the next bowl is delivered and that you would like permission to remove dead bowls from the ditch or green as soon as they come to rest.
  • You should also ask the players if they would prefer to have distances given using imperial (feet and inches) or metric (metres, centimetres, millimetres) measurements.
  • Seek clarification from the players if they wish to do the measuring or if they are happy that you should do it (generally, in our club games, the players will carry out the measuring).


  • Carry the minimum of equipment with you when on the green.
  • Normally you will need to carry a chalk spray or chalk, a box string measure, a pen or pencil, a coin and, if required, shot indicators (lollipops or paddles).
  • Do not carry any items in your pockets that could easily fall out (for example, small coins mixed in
    with a handkerchief).
  • Also, do not carry items such as wallets or purses and mobile phones – they should be kept in a secure location when you are on the green.
  • Make sure that all the necessary measuring equipment (additional wedges, string measure, 30-metre tape, callipers, boundary scope, and so on) are readily to hand. It should not be necessary to do this when an umpire is present.

During the Game


  • After the mat has been centred and the jack delivered, centre the jack with your hand (never use your foot).
  • Don’t hesitate to check a dubious jack length (for example, 21 metres for a delivered jack). Have the length checked using the 30-metre tape if necessary.
  • Your position on the rink is important for two reasons; you should not obstruct a player’s view of any pegs or indicators on the bank and you should also be in a position where you can see and act quickly upon anything that happens in the head. For these reasons, the ideal position is to stand approximately one metre (two paces) to the rear of and one metre to the side of the jack.
  • Do not move when a player is on the mat ready to deliver a bowl.
  • Remain on the green at all times if possible.
  • If the jack goes into the ditch, stand to one side of the rink (not on the bank).

Communication of Information

  • Mark with chalk all touchers as soon as they come to rest. Put marks on both sides so that the bowl does not have to be picked up to be checked if moved from its original position.
  • Use bowl and jack indicators to show their position in the ditch. Remove the indicators when the end is completed.
  • Make sure that you are alert at all times. Try to anticipate questions so that you have the answers ready. When a bowl is on its way up the rink, take a step forward and to the side of the head to check the distances of any key bowls already in the head and which bowls are shot. You will then be ready to answer the next question without having to re-visit the head.
  • Be as accurate as you can when giving distances. For example, if a bowl is 45 centimetres (18 inches) short do not say that it is 60 centimetres (two feet) short -players will quickly lose confidence in you if you do.
  • Only answer questions asked by the player in possession of the rink, remembering that possession of the rink passes to the opponent as soon as a bowl comes to rest, allowing time for marking that bowl as a toucher.
  • Only answer the question asked and be concise. For example, if you are asked “Am I holding shot” – then answer “Yes”.
  • In general, don’t provide information that has not been asked for! Equally, use common sense. For example: if you are asked “Am I holding shot” and the player is holding two shots, you should say; “Yes, you are holding two”.
  • If you are unsure which is shot bowl, don’t be afraid to say that it is a measure. Don’t be forced into making a decision when you are unsure.
  • It is important to have an understanding of the type of questions which players are likely to ask and to be able to anticipate the information that they are looking for – you are their eyes at the head.
    For example, if a player asks “Is that bowl jack high?” and the bowl is not exactly jack high, tell the player how far short or past jack high it actually is.
  • If a player asks you to show them the position of the jack, hold your hand directly above the jack for a second or two.

Running / Firing Bowls

  • Move to the front of the head when a running bowl is delivered – you will be in a much better position to see if the bowl becomes a toucher and to avoid moving objects if you do so.
  • Whenever possible make neighbouring rinks aware of any imminent running / firing shot and ask them to help contain bowls if necessary.
  • Be aware of play on neighbouring rinks. You must stop a bowl or any other neutral object from a neighbouring rink that is likely to disturb the head on your rink.
  • Never move a bowl except for a bowl declared dead – dead bowls must be removed before the next bowl is delivered.
  • Do not engage in conversation with the players unless they want you to.
  • Do not stop or catch bowls which are about to enter the ditch – even if it looks as though they may disturb another bowl or jack already in the ditch. Let them fall – making sure that you know the position of any bowl or jack that would need replacing if it were to be moved.


  • Under no circumstances should you move a bowl at the completion (real or perceived) of an end.
  • Keep out of the head whilst the participants decide the result. (The players must agree on the result.)
  • If you are asked to measure for shot, make sure that you know which bowls you are being asked to measure and ask the players to remove all bowls not in contention where practicable. Don’t measure unless asked to do so by both players.
  • Have wedges to hand if there is a leaning bowl that may require to be measured. Use the wedges where appropriate before measuring – remembering that 30 seconds may elapse from the time the last bowl of the end came to rest if one of the players requests it.
  • If a measure is too close for a box string measure or you cannot decide the shot, call for the umpire.
  • Point to the bowl you believe is shot after completing your measure. Do not move it as the players may want to call for an umpire for confirmation.
  • If you need to call for an umpire, try to make them aware of what equipment will be needed. Give the umpire as much information as possible – for example, about the number of shots already conceded and what has to be measured.
  • Make sure the players are aware of the score throughout the game. You must tell the players the running score at the completion of each end (if scoreboards are not being used).

Time Management

Markers’ use of their time can make a big difference to the way a game is played and to the overall way in which the markers’ actions are perceived by players and spectators. For example, a marker who is either constantly rushing around or holding up players whilst writing the score card or turning over the scoreboard can adversely affect a player’s concentration.
Practice a routine that you can use in every game you mark. You will soon appreciate that there is no need to rush around and your confidence to deal with the unexpected will improve.
Typical time management techniques include the best time to complete the score card and your position on the rink as the players agree the shots.

Other techniques include:

  • moving to the front of the head to wait for the players to decide the result of the end
  • entering on the score card only the score for winner of the end when it is agreed by the players and completing the remainder of the scores after you have centred the jack for the next end.

When the last bowl in an end has come to rest:

  • remove any jack or bowl indicators from the bank
  • move to the front of the head to wait for the players to decide the result of the end.

When the players have decided the result of the end:

  • confirm with the players the number of shots scored and by whom
  • tell the players the running totals of the scores (if scoreboards are not being used)
  • walk quickly to the other end (displaying lollipops if required)
  • remove from the green the mat used in the previous end.

At the start of the next end:

  • check that the mat has been properly positioned
  • centre the jack
  • as the first bowl is on its way up the green, update the score card and check that the scoreboard is correct.

After the Game

Score Card Administration

When the game has been completed, the marker must make sure that the score card:

  • contains the names and signatures of the players
  • contains the time at which the game was completed
  • is handed to the umpire or, if no umpire is present, is dealt with in line with the Conditions of Play.

Practice Makes Perfect!

  • Set up a jack and bowls and try to judge distances. Check them with a tape measure.
  • Set up a jack and bowls and carry out measures using all of your equipment (including wedges).
  • Mark as many games as you can to fine-tune your time management techniques.