You are either invited or decide to "try", "have a go" to see if you like it. Most of those that try it, end up joining the club and start visiting the "roll up" sessions. A few take the offer of having intro coaching sessions, and others just like to turn up and play, practising and adapting their own style.
After a while you feel that you are good enough to try playing in one of the "umbrella" games, open to all for fun and practice. Then later on taking the plunge to join a league team looking for another player. When you feel a bit more confident, maybe put your name down for a match to play another club, great, all very new and exciting. Your confidence is higher but also tender!
Etiquette starts at these levels, with other players giving advice on many subjects. This is good as it helps you learn the rights and wrongs of the game, but it makes a huge difference as to how it is communicated to you. Mostly, someone in your team will speak softly beside you informing you for example, that you should refrain from entering into debate at the final bowl, how it should be bowled or what you fell it looks like before measure. These pointers do help and are gratefully taken note of.
BUT when you have a member of your team that has played for some time, and takes the game very seriously turn to you and state something like, "would you please keep your opinions to yourself and stand to the rear, it's not your job to advise or give opinion", it not only dents your confidence, it can damage your enthusiasm and make you wonder if it is worth continuing with bowls at all!
To me and several of my new friends that are also new to bowls, Bowls is to be played as best we can, (no one tries to do a bad shot), enjoying the game, the environment, the people we meet at every game or match, the social element, watching games, speaking with the young players that are brilliant and learning, speaking with the senior members that have played for many years and are full of helpful tips and information.
I have passed through the initial introduction period playing outside and indoors, deciding this year to stay indoors until I feel better about my game. I will be promoting Indoor Bowls to all newcomers to the game, giving them the whole of summer to practice with rink availability higher, due to the majority of players leaving Indoor Rinks for the Outside Greens. Now is the time to start!
My final words are be gentle to new players, advise and support, if someone steps into or says something that dents "Etiquette", let them know quietly and don't dent their confidence or pride, Bowls, whether Indoors or Outdoors, is a great sport for all! It is growing, and more younger couples and youngsters are coming into the game. We need them all!
This is a private opinion of David Crisp of the game over the first two plus years of play.
Written by David Crisp.