Foot-faulting is the most abused – and overlooked – rule in local outdoor bowls, where players, often inadvertently to be fair, look to squeeze an extra few centimetres of advantage from the restrictive conditions, writes Bob Warters.

Rule XI(1) states: The player at the moment of delivering the jack or the bowl shall have one foot ENTIRELY within the confines of the mat; the foot may be either in contact with, or over, the mat. Failure to observe this law constitutes “foot-faulting”. Should a player infringe the law of foot-faulting, the umpire may, after having given a warning, have any further bowls delivered whilst foot-faulting, stopped and declared dead. If the bowl has disturbed the head, the opponent shall have the option of either resetting the head, leaving the head as altered, or declaring it to be a dead end.

Many bowlers are adamant they do not infringe the rules – and when playing under EBA or EIBA (indoor) rules, they don’t, as these bodies demand a foot need only partially cover the mat at the point of delivery.

As the late magician Paul Daniels use to say: “Not a lot of people know that!”

But maybe they should – though the Stamford Leagues rules, are somewhat ambiguous. They state: ‘When delivering the jack or bowl the player must have his right or left toe (or both) on or over the mat. Failure to observe this rule constitutes ‘ foot-faulting’.
I would suggest that you can still have a toe over the back or the side of the mat but with the rest of the foot outside its confines as the Federation Laws state. Picky, perhaps but appropriate and in my opinion, these should be re-worded by the league.

We have all made full use of the mat in an effort to change the angle of delivery to the jack and when trying circumnavigate short bowls when greens are heavy and maybe the line is restricted. But this can still be done within the Laws of the Game.

But if the league is playing to ‘Federation Laws’ as I understand they are in almost every respect, we should all ensure ourselves and our team-mates keep at least one whole foot completely on or over the mat when the bowl leaves our hand to avoid the foot-faulting police looking to ‘feel our collar’.

Is it being too pedantic to point this out? Some might say it is but as a local official of the rule-making body which decide the Laws of the Game, it would be remiss to turn a blind eye.