Curling is a team sport played on ice, in which players slide stones towards a target area, called the "house," at the other end of the rink.
The object of the game is to score points by getting your stones closer to the center of the house than your opponent's stones.
Each team consists of four players, who take turns sliding stones down the ice and using special brooms to sweep the ice in front of the stone to help control its speed and direction.
The team with the highest score after 8 or 10 "ends" (depending on the level of play) wins the game.
Curling is popular in countries with cold climates, such as Canada, Sweden, and Scotland, and is also a medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games.
The line across the ice at the back of the house. Stones which are over this line are removed from play.
A stone that just touches the outer edge of the circles.
An end in which no points have been scored.
A curling competition or tournament.
A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment. Burned stones are removed from play.
The circle at the centre of the house.
Any stone in the rings or touching the rings which is a potential point.
The amount a rock bends while travelling down the sheet of ice.
The momentum required for a stone to reach the house or cirlces at the distant end.
A portion of a curling game that is completed when each team has thrown eight stones and the score has been decided.
A stone that is placed in a position so that it may protect another stone.
The foot-holds at each end of the ice from which the stone is delivered.
The team with the last stone in any given end of play. The 16th delivered stone in any end is called the “Hammer”
A rock delivered with a greater force than necessary.
A take-out. Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.
A line 10 meters from the hack at each end of the ice.
A stone that does not reach the far hog line. It must be removed from play.
The rings or circles toward which play is directed consisting of a 12-foot ring, 8-foot ring, 4-foot ring and a button.
The rotation applied to the handle of a stone that causes it to rotate in a clockwise direction and curl for a right-handed curler.
The rotation applied to the handle of a stone that causes it to turn and curl in a counter-clockwise direction for a right-handed curler.
A fine spray of water applied to a sheet of curling ice before commencing play.
When one stone is bumped ahead by another.
The large, round piece of polished granite that is thrown down the ice to the house at the opposite end. Also called a "stone".
The movement of a curling stone after it has struck a stationary stone in play.
SHEET (or Ice)
The specific playing surface upon which a curling game is played. Size is minimum 14’2″ wide and 146′ long. See "Rink Diagram"
At any time during an end, the stone closest to the button.
An alternate player or substitute.
Slippery material placed on the sole of a shoe, to make it easier to slide on the ice.
The large, round piece of polished granite that is thrown down the ice to the house at the opposite end. Also called a "rock".
The action of moving a broom back and forth in the path of a moving stone.
Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.
The line that passes through the centre of the house parallel to the hog line and backline.
The amount of force given to the stone during the delivery.
A team scores one point for each of its own stones located in or touching the house that are closer to the centre than any stone of the opposite team. Only one team can score in an end. If no team’s stones are touching the house at the conclusion of an end, no points are scored. This is called a blank end.
(Reference "Rink Diagram") The teams take turns delivering their stones from the hack at one end of the sheet, to the house at the opposite end. Players must release the stone before the hog line for the stone to be considered in play. Stones which do not pass the hog line at the scoring end of the sheet are removed from play.
If a stone travels too far and passes the back line, it is out of play.
When an end is complete, the next end is played in the opposite direction.
After all of the stones have been delivered to the scoring end of the sheet, the players themselves calculate the score.
Club-level curling is usually played over eight ends; however, in some formats and competitions, this may be increased to ten ends. Teams can concede their game earlier than the defined number of ends according to the rules of the competition. The team with the most points at this stage wins the game.
Each team has four players: a Lead, Second, Third (also known as the Vice Skip), and a Skip.
The Lead is responsible for throwing the 1st and 2nd rocks. What they do with these rocks helps to set up the type of end that will unfold.
The Second throws the 3rd and 4th rocks, either building on what their lead has played or reacting to the stones thrown by the other team.
The Third (also known as the vice skip) throws the 5th and 6th stones. The Third can be called on to make a wide range of different types of shots depending on how the end has unfolded and needs to be a fairly versatile player. The Third also helps the skip make strategic decisions, especially during the final 2 rocks for the team that the Skip is responsible for throwing.
The Skip is the captain of the team and spends most of the game at the end of the ice that players are throwing at. It is from this end that they analyze the game and call the shots to be thrown by their teammates. To call the shots, the Skip uses a mix of hand signals as well as holding a broom on the ice where they want their teammates to aim the rock. The skip throws their team’s last 2 rocks (#7 and #8 for those counting), switching places on the ice with the Third, who then holds a broom for the Skip to aim at.
By sweeping the ice, players can clear debris, reduce friction, and allow stones to travel longer distances. They can also straighten out the path of the stone as it approaches the house.
As for the yelling, the curlers aren't trash-talking their opponents. A curling sheet is about 150 feet long, so clear communication between teammates is key. Popular commands include:
“Hard,” “hard-line,” or “go”: Sweep harder to maintain the current path.
“Clean”: Sweep lightly to ensure the line is maintained.
“Whoa,” “Never,” or “Off”: Stop sweeping, possibly because a rock has too much momentum required for the shot called, the rock needs more curl to be able to make the shot, or even because the rock was misfired and is heading off course.
“Looks heavy”: The stone has been thrown too hard and has a chance of sliding beyond the intended target. Sweepers will ease up with the hope the rock will lose speed.
“Looks light”: A stone hasn’t been thrown hard enough with the chance it comes up short. Sweepers will brush harder to attempt to drag the rock to the desired point.
Many different types of shots are used to carefully place stones in the field of play for strategic or tactical reasons; they fall into three fundamental categories as follows:
Guards are shots thrown in front of the house in the free guard zone, usually to protect the shot-rock (the stone closest to the button at the time) or to make the opposing team’s shot difficult.
Draws are shots thrown only to reach the house. Draw shots include raise and angle-raise, come-around, and freeze shots.
Takeouts are shots intended to remove stones from play and include the peel, hit-and-roll and double shots.
Stones: The stones are typically made of granite and weigh between 17 and 20kg. They are at least 11cm high with a maximum circumference of 91cm and have a handle attached to the top.
Brooms: Brooms are used in a few different ways during a curling game, and every position on the team requires one. Firstly, brooms are used by the player throwing a stone for balance and stability. Secondly, players use their brooms to sweep the path of a stone as it is travelling down the ice. And thirdly, the Skip uses a broom to show their teammates where they would like a stone to end up once it stops moving, as well as to provide a spot for those teammates to "aim for" while taking a shot.
Stabilizers: If someone is not able to throw their rock using a broom for stability, then a purpose-made stabilizer or "crutch" may be used. These provide less flexibility in your posture during delivery but provide slightly more stability than a broom.
Shoes: A curlers shoes are often similar to trainers, with flat soles. The bottom of one shoe has a rubber sole, while the other shoe has a slippery sole called a "slider" with a removable rubber cover called a "gripper". There are different "speeds" of slip a shoe can come with, and the slider is usually made out of Teflon (although some curlers even use stainless steel!)
Stopwatches: Players may use a stopwatch to time the rock as it travels between two specific spots on the ice while being delivered. This helps the players to better understand the pace of the ice, as well as aid in deciding if a rock will need to be swept or not.
Additional Gear: Additional gear can include gloves, stretchy pants or leggings, and warm layers of clothes. "Bump Caps" are also worn by many players to help protect from a head injury from a slip and fall. These protective foam pieces are usually worn inside special ball caps, toques, or headbands and are fairly inconspicuous.
So now you know enough about curling to watch a game, how about trying out curling for yourself?
Whether you've never stepped foot on a curling rink before, only played a little back in high school, or are a club-level competitor; The Langley Curling Centre offers lots of different ways to experience curling.
Try It Nights:
These adult-oriented events give beginners an hour and a half out on the ice with some of our best club coaches. You will learn how to throw a rock, proper sweeping techniques, how to communicate across the ice, and even play a mini-game! Our "Try It" nights are the best way to come out and experience curling for yourself. Click here for upcoming dates and registration information.
Learn to Curl League:
Running twice per year, this 10-week beginners league is the best way to get started "club curling" (meaning curling in a regular club league). During the course of the program, you will hone your skills while also learning more about the nuances of gameplay and some all-important strategy. It's not called "Chess on Ice" for nothing! Once completed, most curlers will be ready to play Lead or Second position in a club league or any position in one of our Novice leagues. Click here to find out more about our Learn to Curl leagues and to register.
Our novice clinics are perfect for people who have done on of our "Try It" nights, have attended a corporate curling event, or maybe even took a few lessons before but didn't go any further. These 2.5 hour sessions skip the introduction to curling and jump right into practicing and developing basic skills for play. Click here for upcoming dates and registration information.
Got your skills down but don't feel ready to play in a regular club league yet? Our Novice Leagues are great ways to improve while actually playing full curling games. Recommended for those with some basic skills (for example: either 1-3 years of experience, completion of a Learn to Curl program, or completion of one or more Novice Clinics). Click here to find out more about our Novice leagues and to register.
Curled before and want to jump right back into it? Moved from a different area and looking for an awesome club to join? Click here to get in touch with our office at the LCC to find out about how you can get started curling on one of our many club leagues.
Junior and Youth Programs:
More information coming soon!