Curling puck on ice rink


The Fundamentals of Curling

From the Ontario Curling Association [OCA]

Curling is a game requiring hand/eye co-ordination – a game of skill, strategy and luck but above all, it is a game of fun. It is a game that can be played by both males and females from the age of 8 to 88. It can be recreational or competitive, depending on how much time you have to devote to the sport.

The only personal equipment required is a pair of curling shoes, a brush and warm, comfortable clothing. The shoes have a special slider on the bottom of one shoe and a soft rubber sole called a gripper on the bottom of the other shoe. Brushes are either made of synthetic material or of hog or horsehair.

Each team has 4 players, called Skip, Third, Second and Lead. The Skip is the captain or the leader of the team. The Skip plans the strategy for the team and stands in the far house holding his/her brush to tell the team where to aim their rocks. The Lead throws his/her rocks first, then the Second throws his/her rocks. The Third throws his/her rocks next and holds the brush when the Skip is throwing rocks. It is the responsibility of the Thirds to settle on the score at the completion of each end by looking at where the rocks are lying and to mark it on the scoreboard.

Curling is played on a sheet of ice by sliding rocks from one end to a target, called the house, at the far end. When each team has taken its turn, an end has been played. The teams turn around and deliver the rocks back – and keep doing this until many ends have been played. The number of ends varies depending upon the amount of available time and the level of competition – most games last either 8 or 10 ends and between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. Each player, beginning with the Lead, delivers two rocks in each end. Alternately, until all 16 rocks have been delivered, 8 by each team.

The curling rink is long and narrow with a house at each end. The ice is special pebbled ice, which makes it easier for the rocks to slide. The rocks are made of granite and weigh approx. 44 lbs. but with the new no-lift delivery, they are not difficult to throw. Little rocks weighing half as much are available for young children. The rocks used during a game have two different colours of handles to allow each team to know which are theirs.

The house has four different sized circles – the 12′ circle, the 8′ circle, the 4′ circle and the button, which is the small circle in the middle. Sometimes the house is also called the rings. In order to score points, your rocks must be all the way in or just touching the house, which is called biting. Rocks that go over the back line are removed from play as are rocks that don’t go over the hog line.

Curling rocks don’t travel in straight lines, but curl or bend as they travel down the ice. In order to make the rocks curl in the right direction, you must put a turn on the rock, either a clockwise turn or a counterclockwise turn. When the Skip indicates where the rock you are about to deliver is to go, he/she will also indicate which turn you must put on the rock. The Skip will also indicate to you how hard you are to throw the rock. You may be asked for takeout weight in order to remove an opposition rock or rocks or for draw weight if the Skip wants you to put the rock gently into a particular spot.

Once you deliver your rock towards the Skip, the other two players on your team will slide along beside it and will begin to sweep if asked to do so by the Skip. Brushing helps the rock go farther and also helps to keep it on course and to guide it to the position requested. Another reason for brushing is to keep the ice clean for the rock. Sometimes frost, dirt or hairs can cause a rock to go off course so the ice is brushed lightly to keep it clean.

Brushers may only brush their own rock until it reaches the far tee line. After the tee line only one brusher may brush the rock. The other team’s Skip may brush your rock after it reaches the far tee line because he or she is trying to brush it out of play.

The area between the hogline and the rings at each end is called the Free Guard Zone. If a rock lands in this area it cannot be removed from play until the fourth rock of the end is thrown. It can be moved within that area or moved into the house but if it is removed from play, it has to be returned to its original position. On the fourth rock, any rock can be removed from play. This rule makes the game more interesting and stops teams from just peeling the other teams rocks off for the whole game.

Rules of Curling for General Play

The Rules Curling for General Play document (as published by the Canadian Curling Association [CCA]).

Curling Etiquette

Curling has always been known for the prevalence of good sportsmanship and the friendly courteous rivalry that exists on the ice. The courtesies suggested are practised by curlers who understand the true spirit and tradition of the “roaring game.”

  • Every curling game begins with a hearty handshake of friendship and goodwill to both team mates and opponents.
  • Be on time. Seven other people will be depending on you.
  • Clean your shoes before stepping onto the ice. Clean your brush regularly during the game. It is everyones responsibility to keep the sheet of ice clean. However, you may not remove any foreign object from beneath a moving stone or from one that has come to rest.
  • Be ready to throw your stone immediately after your opponent’s stone has been delivered. Make sure that you have cleaned your stone first.
  • In no way should you disturb a player in the hack or during delivery or until he or she watches the stone come to a stop. You should stand still on the sideline and between the hog lines when your opponent is delivering a stone.
  • Stay out of the way of opposing sweepers.
  • Sweepers should be on the sidelines, alert and ready to sweep immediately, if called upon. They should stay with the stone all the way to the house, sweeping or not.
  • When in the house, skips and thirds should keep their brooms behind them and stand still while opponents are throwing.
  • No one should deliberately delay the game.
  • If you have personally touched (fouled or burned) a moving stone, you should be the first one to so declare.
  • If you have personally moved a stationary stone, say so immediately so that it may be replaced (put into original position) to the satisfaction of the opposing skip.
  • Congratulate opposing players, as well as members of your own rink, when they have made a good shot. Never, by word or deed, be guilty of any action that would embarrass a player who has missed a shot.
  • Every curling game ends with a hearty handshake of friendship and goodwill to both team mates and opponents.


  • Sliders are slippery. Ice is slippery.
  • Step on the ice with your gripper foot.
  • Never step onto the ice with your slider foot.
  • Step off the ice with your slider foot.
  • Never step off the ice with your gripper foot.
  • Your slider foot should be: LAST ON, FIRST OFF.

Managing The Risk While Curling

Curling has become a popular winter sport among Canadians of all ages. But like all sports played on ice, the risk of falls is increased.

Look First

  • Curling sheets are always busy with activity: rocks being delivered, sweepers following rocks, people walking back and forth. Before you step onto the ice take a look around and take note of the sheets being used and the experience and potential injury risks presented by the other players.
  • Falls often happen when a curler is stepping on or off the ice. Always step on the ice with your gripper foot first; never step on with your slider foot first. When you step off the ice, always step off with your slider foot first. Hold onto the boards or use your broom or brush for better balance.
  • Ice conditions can change from one day to the next. Note how slippery the ice is when you first step on, and use extra caution if necessary.
  • Keep an eye out for stray rocks, and prevent rocks from going onto another sheet.
  • Keep your feet on the ice. Walk or slide; never hop or run.

Wear the Gear

  • Clothing should be warm, comfortable and allow movement. Thin gloves may help to prevent blisters while sweeping.
  • Make sure that your shoes provide good traction on ice. Be sure that your slider and gripper or shoes are clean and dry before stepping on the ice.
  • You can use your broom or brush to help keep your balance and avoid falls, both when you’re getting on and off the ice and while playing.
  • Use your broom or brush to stop the rocks. A rock can have more momentum than you may realize, and if you use your hand to stop it, your fingers can be pinched between it and another rock. If you use your foot to stop a fast moving rock, you can lose your balance and fall.

Get Trained

  • Curling courses and clinics will help you learn how to enjoy the game to the fullest and teach you the skills needed to avoid slips and falls.
  • If you’re new at curling, take some time to get used to standing and moving on the ice. Don’t get overconfident, and remember that some patches of ice may be more hazardous than others.
  • If you’re sweeping and are having trouble keeping up with a fast shot, stop and let it go. With practice, you’ll learn to keep up with faster shots without risking a fall.

Play Sober

  • Keep focused on the game. Things can happen very quickly in curling, and your fellow curlers will appreciate you being “in” the game.
  • Standard rocks weigh 42 pounds and add strain to your back, legs, knees, arm and shoulder when thrown. If you already have an injury, or if it throwing the rock becomes painful, don’t play.
  • Illness and alcohol can affect your balance and the effects will be much more noticeable on the slippery ice. You should avoid playing if your balance is impaired in any way.

Curling Terminology

Back Ring Wright
A stone thrown with sufficient momentum to reach the back rings. The portion of the 12 foot ring behind the tee line and in the proximity of the centre line.

The line that runs across the sheet of ice tangent to the back of the 12 foot ring at the centre line.

A stone that just touches the outer edge of the 12 foot circle and is a potential point.

Blank End
An end in which no points have been scored.

Blanking an End
The strategy by which a team deliberately blanks an end for the purpose of retaining last rock advantage.

A curling competition comprised of a number of different events usually played over a weekend.

A slang term for the curling stone.

The Brier is the Canadian Men’s Curling Championship.

A type of device used to sweep the ice in the path of the stone and may be manufactured with straw or synthetic fibers.

A type of device used to sweep the ice in the path of the stone and may be manufactured with hog’s hair, horse hair or synthetic fibres.

The act of moving the brush back and forth across the ice in front of a moving stone.

Bumper, or Back-Board Weight
A lightweight takeout thrown with sufficient momentum to reach the back board at the distant end.

Burned Stone
A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment.

The one foot circle at the centre of the house.

Cash Spiel
A bonspiel in which the prizes consist of cash awards.

Centre Line
The line that runs from the mid-point between the hacks at one end of the ice to the mid-point between the hacks at the other end of the ice.

To hit only a small portion of a stone.

Chip and Roll, or Hit and Roll
To hit a small portion of a stone and roll the delivered stone to another position.

To lightly sweep or brush in front of a stone to remove any debris.

Any stone in the rings or touching the rings which is a potential point.

Dead Handle
A stone that is released with little or no rotation of the handle.

Double Takeout
A takeout shot that removes two of the opponent’s stones at one time.

Draw Weight
The momentum required for a stone to reach the house or circles 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 game consists of a specific number of ends, usually 8 or 10.

Fast Ice
Ice conditions that require very little momentum to produce the required weight.

Fifth Player
The substitute or alternate player on a team.

Flipped Out
A stone that is released with poor technique which causes it to be wide of the skip’s broom.

A precise draw weight shot in which the delivered stone comes to rest directly up against a stationary stone.

Front Ring Weight
A stone thrown with sufficient weight to reach the 12 foot circle in front of the T line and at the proximity of the centre line.

Frosty Ice
Ice that has layer of frost on the surface usually caused by excess humidity.

A stone that is placed in a position so that it may protect or potentially protect another stone.

The foot-hold at each end of the ice from which the stone is delivered.

Hack Weight
A light weight takeout delivered with enough momentum for it to reach the hack at the distant end.

A bristle from a brush.

The last stone of an end.

The crest that is given to a team to signify winning a provincial/territorial championship which leads to a national championship.

A stone delivered with more momentum weight than was actually required.

Heavy Ice
Slow ice. When ice conditions are such that more than the normal amount of momentum is required to produce the desired weight.

Highland Country Club
The premier curling facility in Southwestern Ontario!

A takeout. Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.

Hog Line
A line 10 meters from the hack at each end of the ice. A stone, to be in play, must completely cross the hog line at the distant end.

The rings or circles toward which play is directed.

A command given to the sweepers to sweep vigorously.

In the playing of a takeout or draw shot it is the distance between the skip’s broom and the target stone or target area, determined by the amount of curl and weight anticipated.

The rotation applied to the handle of a stone that causes to turn and curl in a clockwise direction for a right handed curler.

A stone delivered between the skip’s broom and the intended target stone or target area.

The style of play that has many stones in play.

Keen Ice
Fast ice. When ice conditions are such that less than the normal amount of momentum is required to produce the desired weight.

The first player on a team to deliver a pair of stones for his team in each end.

A stone delivered with less than the weight required to successfully complete the desired shot.

Lost Turn
A stone that does not maintain the rotation imparted at release.

Missed the Broom
A stone delivered off the intended line of delivery which is determined by the skip’s broom.

A stone delivered between the skip’s broom and the intended target stone or target area.

The umpire or referee responsible for ensuring the game is played according to the rules.

The rotation applied to the handle of a stone that causes to turn and curl in a counter- clockwise direction for a right handed curler.

See wide.

Over the Hog Line
A stone that is released from the curler’s hand after reaching the hogline at the end of delivery

A fine spray of water applied to a sheet of curling ice before commencing play.

A take out shot that removes a stone from play and the delivered stone also rolls out of play.

Peel Weight
The momentum required on a take out shot to remove a stone from play and also roll the delivered stone out of play.

An opening between two stones that is just large enough to allow passage of another stone.

When one stone is bumped ahead or advanced by another stone.

Reading Ice
The skill by which the skip anticipates the amount a stone will curl relative to the weight required.

The circles towards which play is directed.

A team. Also the building in which the game is played.

The movement of a curling stone after it has struck a stationary stone in play.

Small dips or hollows in the ice that restrict the stone from curling in its intended path.

The curler who delivers the second pair of stones for his team in each end.

The specific playing surface upon which a curling game is played.

Shot Rock
At any time during an end, the stone which is closest to the button.

The player who determines the strategy, reads the ice and directs play for his team. Generally the skip delivers the last pair of stones for his team in each end.

Slow Ice
Heavy ice. Ice that requires more momentum than normal to produce the required amount of weight.

An alternate player or substitute.

A stone that is released so that it rotates many times as it travels down the sheet.

A stone that raises another stone into the rings and rolls in itself.

Straight Handle
A stone that is released without any rotation applied to the handle at release.

The action of moving a broom or brush back and forth in the path of a moving stone.

Swingy Ice
Ice conditions which cause the stone to curl a greater distance than normal.

Take Out
Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone.

Tee Line
The line that passes through the centre of the house that runs at right angles to the centre line.

Third, Vice-Skip
The third player on a team to throw two stones in each end. Generally this player acts as the skip when the skip is delivering his stones and assists with shot selection decisions.

Tournament of Hearts (Scotties)
The Canadian Women’s Curling Championship.

Turned In
A stone which, at release, is directed toward the target or target area and not directly at the skip’s broom.

The momentum imparted to a curling stone in delivery.

To hit only a small portion of a stone.

Wick and Roll
To hit a small portion of a stone and roll the delivered stone to another location.

A stone that is delivered to the opposite side of the broom than the target stone or target area.

Wrecked Shot
A shot that accidentally wicks off a stone in front of the house.