Should I Say Sorry When I’ve Played a Bad Shot?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 9, 2023

Never say sorry when you have delivered a poor bowl. No one deliberately plays a bad shot in lawn bowls and plenty (in fact the vast majority) of bowls delivered do not achieve the results the player would like.

Why never say sorry in lawn bowls?

If everyone was obliged to apologise after playing a less than excellent shot in bowls, then there would be a continuous, deafening roar of apology on the green. Obviously that would create an awful, endless atmosphere of failure.

I would argue that saying sorry is poor lawn bowls etiquette because it sours the atmosphere on the green.

Other reasons for never saying sorry in lawn bowls

When you verbalise your failure you are cementing your failure in your sub-conscious. Watch the next time you hear someone saying “I’m sorry” to the skip when they play a bad bowl. Their game will only get worse from then on.

In fact, if you hear a player apologising to the skip you should quietly celebrate. It means the opposing player in on the back foot and vulnerable. Capitalise on his vulnerabilities by playing with a positive attitude and positive words towards your team mates.

Positive words a skip can use in bowls

Here is a range of positive words a skip can use instead in order to bolster your team’s mental attitude, and which will increase the number of successful bowls they will play:

“Nicely done!”

“Such a great try!”

“What a bow!!”

“Good position!” (bowl is too much behind the head or too much in front)

“That has a value!” (same as the reason above)


“What a line! or “Good road!” (if the line is good)

“Good weight! (if the bowl is too wide or narrow but has a good road)

“Glad you’re in my team!” (for a bowl heroically played but not necessarily successful)

What to do instead of saying sorry

Stand just in front of the mat and watch your bowl as it travels down the green. Do a quick analysis of why the shot was not successful. It might be too narrow, too wide, too short or even in the ditch when it wasn’t supposed to be.

Memorise the fault and tell yourself that you will improve next time with what you have learned from watching your bowl.

Never jump off the mat prematurely because you have played a bad bowl. Watch your bowl (everyone else has to!) and learn from your mistake.