What Does “Stay on the Mat” Mean in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Kitty Driver
  • Date: August 23, 2023

Often a skip will tell a player to “stay on the mat” once she has delivered her bowl. This is an unfortunate expression, because it suggests that both the player’s feet should be rooted on the mat once the bowl has left her hand.

That’s wrong. Actually, if you deliver a bowl correctly you will have no foot on the mat as your bowl travels down the green.

Foot on the mat: what the rules say

Here is what the World Bowls Laws of Bowls say about the relationship of your feet to the mat when delivering a bowl:

7 Position on the mat
7.1 Before delivery a player must be standing on the mat with all or part of at least one foot on the mat. At the moment they deliver the jack or a bowl, the player must have all or part of one foot on or above the mat.

World Bowls

Once the bowl has left the player’s hand, the non-anchor foot will be in front of the mat as the player will have stepped forward.

As the player stands up straight the other foot will then step forward and line up with the other foot, leaving the player standing in front of the mat without any foot touching the mat.

The player should be directly in line with the mat, not off to the side.

That is the correct way to deliver the bowl and is what the skip or coach means when he says: “Stay on the mat!” He is really saying should not leap off it, particularly not the side. End up in line with the mat and watch your bowl carefully as it travels down the green.

Can you run after your bowl?

Men players in particular like to run after their bowls as they travel down the green. There is no evidence that this improves their percentages of shot success, but it does allow them to expend adrenaline. As long as the player reaches the head before his bowl comes to rest, he may run after his bowl.