What is Curling?
Curling is a team game, where all four team members’ efforts contribute directly to each shot. Teams can be composed of both sexes and all ages, and like golf, curling is a lifetime sport.
A curler at any skill level, like a golfer, finds that his or her skills decline only gradually from about age 45 onward. It can be said that the curler who is at the height of his or her game has the same edge as the golfer who is sinking the key putts: great nerves, will to win, and mental toughness.
Historical and Descriptive Notes
It is generally agreed that curling was developed in Scotland in the 16th century. The climate in Scotland was colder then, and curling took place on the many marshes (since drained). Scottish farmers curled on the frozen marshes using “channel stones,” which were naturally smoothed by the water’s action.
The principles of the game were similar to the modern game, although there were many differences in rules and equipment.
Scottish immigrants brought the game with them to North America, first to Canada around 1759, then to the United States around 1832. By 1855, curling clubs flourished in New York City, Detroit, Milwaukee and Portage, WI. Curling in the rest of Europe developed in the 20th century.
Two developments ensured that the modern game would be marked by a high degree of physical skill and mental toughness:
- the standardization of the stone, and
- indoor, refrigerated ice
The modern stone is round and weighs about 42 pounds. Curling is played, for the most part, on indoor, refrigerated ice, which helps ensure a fast, consistent and predictable playing surface.
A game is made up of 8 or 10 ends (like innings in baseball). An end consists of each team member shooting (delivering) two rocks, or stones, alternately with the opponent’s player at the same position. When all 16 rocks have been delivered, the score for that end is determined.
The sheet of ice (playing surface) is 16′ 5″ wide and 150 feet long, set up to accommodate play in both directions. A 12-foot circle (the house) is the scoring area. For each stone closer to the center of the circles (the tee) than any of the opponent’s, one point is scored. The team scoring shoots first in the next end, giving the opponent the hammer, or last shot of that end. Teams will sometimes ignore taking a point to retain the next end’s hammer.
All four players shoot two rocks per end, beginning with the player referred to as the lead. The second shoots next, and then the third, or vice skip. The skip usually shoots the last rocks and calls the strategy for the game. The skip decides on shot selection, and “reads” the curl in the ice for the shooter. The shooter must be accurate in three functions:
- Aim (at the broom)
- Weight (velocity imparted to the stone)
- Imparting the correct handle (or curl) to each shot
Shots are called either to stop at a certain point on the sheet (called draws or guards) or to have enough weight to strike another rock out of play (takeouts or hit and rolls).
Each running stone curls, or curves, as it proceeds down the ice based on the twist given the handle during the delivery. The amount of curl varies based on the ice surface and the speed of the rock.
The curl allows for better control of the stone and also provides a means to shoot around guards.
With either a straw broom, hog hair or horse hair brush, or synthetic brush, sweeping adds the element of fitness to curling – to be effective, sweeping must be very vigorous. Sweeping slightly melts the ice, which reduces the friction between the running stone and the ice. The result: the stone will curl less and slide farther.
Sweeping is called for when the stone has not been delivered firmly enough, and/or when the shot is aimed “narrow,” or inside the broom target. Sweeping can help a rock slide up to an additional 15 feet. Top teams control most shots by using aim and weight “within the sweeping zone.”
Strategy is a major part of curling. Shots are played with an eye to the last rocks of each end, not simply placed at the center of the circles. The strategy can be rather complex. Innovations are constantly being made and adopted when the innovators win, similar to other sports where strategy and the game plan plays a major role.
Learn to Curl
When: (except where noted on the club calendar)
- Monday Evening (7:30 pm - 9:30 pm) Learn to Curl (Members & Non-Members)
- Monday Evening (7:30 pm - 9:30 pm) Learn to Curl (Members & Non-Members)
Who: Everyone is welcome!
Cost: $15 per person (free to members)
Equipment Needed: Clean, soft-soled running shoes & loose fitting pants.
Whether you have never curled before or are coming back after some years away from the sport, the members and staff of RKCC are very excited about the opportunity to help you “Learn to Curl” !!
Learn To Curl programs at the Royal Kingston Curling Club are free to all RKCC club members and to the general public for a nominal fee. The program is intended primarily to provide novice curlers with basic curling instruction (game and rudimentary skills) followed by an informal game amongst other participants. The program also provides targeted instruction for curlers looking to improve their technique or understanding of the game.
For those considering joining or simply playing occasionally, this may be the opportunity for you to experience our state-of-the-art curling facility and club amenities.
A team of experienced curlers will be on hand to welcome you and assist you regardless of your level of experience ... just bring your enthusiasm and let us do the rest.
NOTE: Should you decide to join at some point in time, your accumulated LTC payments will be credited towards your membership fee.
See you on the ice!
For more information, please call the club office at 613-546-2243 or send us an email.
The spirit of the roaring game demands good sportsmanship, common courtesies, and honorable conduct. While not strictly in the rule books, curling courtesy goes a long way towards an enjoyable day of curling. By following these generally accepted courtesies you will be welcomed and accepted as a curler at clubs all over the world.
Be honest. There are rarely referees or umpires in curling, so the game depends on players to police themselves and one another, especially during league play. If perchance you accidentally burn a stone, it is expected that you will be the first to announce it.
Be a good sport. Congratulate players, both teammates and opponents, when they make a good shot. By the same standard, do not embarrass a player who has missed a shot. Cheering a missed shot is considered in poor taste and poor sportsmanship. Also do not make light of any bad fortune that befalls your opponent.
Keep the game moving. A standard eight end game takes 2 full hours to play, so it’s a courtesy to your team, your opponents, and anybody playing after you to be on time, prompt and mindful of the clock. If you start late or play slowly, do not assume that you will be able to play a complete, 8-end game. If you notice that you are a full end or two behind all the other sheets, pick up the pace. There are more hints below.
Before the game:
If you can’t curl, please find your own spare. That’s your job, not the skip's. Check the spares list for your league and give them as much notice as possible.
Arrive in plenty of time to change shoes and/or clothes. Be ready to hit the ice at the scheduled time. Seven other people are depending on you. If you perchance are going to be just a bit late, please call the bar and let the rest of your fellow curlers know.
Clean shoes are a must. Ideally curling shoes, or soft soled shoes dedicated to curling. Try not to wear your street shoes on the ice as you may accidentally track in mud, sand, or salt, giving the icemakers ulcers.
The game traditionally starts with a coin toss for hammer, a handshake, and wishes for “Good Curling”.
During the game:
If your team leads off on any particular end, the lead should gather his or her rock and get in the hack, clean the stone, and begin the pre-shot routine. Be ready to deliver the stone as soon as the skip asks for it. The remainder of the curlers will wrestle the rocks to their proper position along the sides. This keeps the game moving quickly.
When your turn comes to sweep, be in front of the hack, leaving the thrower a clear view of the skip, ready to go. If you can’t be in position, tell your teammates to proceed with the shot without you.
Sweepers, not on the team delivering the stone, stand on the sides of the sheet, past the hog line. This positioning allows the curler delivering the stone an unobstructed view of the skip and the house and allows for easier and quicker communications.
If you are the next curler, put on your slider or remove your gripper and have your stone cleaned and in front of the hack while your opponent’s shot is in motion. It’s OK to watch your opponent’s shot, but not so long that you can’t be ready for your own.
You should never disturb a curler in the hack or during delivery. Until their thrown stone comes to rest, the sheet is theirs and you should not interrupt their view. Crossing behind them, preparing to throw your own stone is perfectly acceptable and expected.
Keep the ice clean! If you do discover something improper on the ice, such as mud, sand, sweater fuzz, pocket lint, broom bristles, etc., please remove it from the ice and deposit it in a trash can.
Take care not to walk down the middle of the sheet after your team’s shot. You should walk on the sides to minimize wearing down the pebble, but more importantly to provide a clear view for the next curler to deliver the stone. They cannot determine what shot the skip calls for, nor can they deliver a stone if you are strolling down the middle of the sheet.
Let the vice-skips do his/her job (keep score). When the final stone of an end comes to rest in the house, leads and seconds should remain well outside the house until the vice-skips have measured (if necessary), determined the score, and agreed to move stones.
Let the skip do his/her job (call the game). Although every successful team depends on the input and expertise of each team member (curling is a team sport in every respect) the skip needs the support and respect of his/her teammates. Skips have the responsibility of determining strategy, calling shots and working with sweepers to make the most out of every shot of the game. So while discussion, communication and clarification are encouraged, be willing and able to defer to your skip’s decisions even if you don’t understand or agree with them.
Skips stand behind the hack, quiet and motionless, brooms horizontal or on the ground until their opponent has delivered the stone.
If you accidentally displace a stationary stone, please announce it immediately. It’s the privilege of the opposing skip to replace the stone to their satisfaction.
Your enthusiasm and paying attention to your own game, and not the game on the adjoining sheet, has a direct bearing on the success of your team.
Do we really need to tell you not to answer the blankety blank cuss cuss dash dash cell phone while you are out on the ice? I thought not.
Speed of Play & Techniques:
If a rock appears to be heavy, do not shake your broom over it, even in jest. You never know what might fall off the broom and deflect your perfectly aimed stone.
Sweepers should follow the stone down to the house, ready to sweep at a moment’s notice. If you hear the skip yelling “No, No, Never”, be aware that the next thing you’re likely to hear from that very same skip is “YES, Hurry, Hard!”.
As another courtesy to keep the game moving, it is typically the lead’s job to place the skip’s rock in front of the hack when it is time for the skip to shoot.
Skips can do their part to keep the game moving by minimizing the delay while deciding upon a shot. Certainly take the time you need, but lengthy conferences should be avoided.
After the game:
The game end with handshakes all around and sincere congratulations to the winners Return any loaner brooms and tidy up the rocks
It is expected that the winners will buy (or offer to buy) their counterparts the beverage of their choice after the game. Both rinks enjoy each others company and some lively conversation about your favorite topic(s) around the tables. The losing curlers invariably offer to buy the second round.
The following terms and definitions are used throughout the curling world.
BACKLINE The line across the ice at the back of the house. Stones which are over this line are removed from play.
BITER A stone that just touches the outer edge of the circles.
BLANK END An end in which no points have been scored.
BONSPIEL A curling competition or tournament.
BRUSH A device used to sweep the ice in the path of a moving stone.
BURNED STONE A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment. Burned stones are removed from play.
BUTTON The circle at the centre of the house.
COUNTER Any stone in the rings or touching the rings which is a potential point.
CURL The amount a rock bends while travelling down the sheet of ice.
DRAW WEIGHT The momentum required for a stone to reach the house or cirlces at the distant end.
END A portion of a curling game that is completed when each team has thrown eight stones and the score has been decided.
GUARD A stone that is placed in a position so that it may protect another stone.
HACKS The foot-holds at each end of the ice from which the stone is delivered.
HEAVY A rock delivered with a greater force than necessary.
HIT A take-out. 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.
HOGGED STONE A stone that does not reach the far hog line. It must be removed from play.
HOUSE The rings or circles toward which play is directed consisting of a 12-foot ring, 8-foot ring, 4-foot ring and a button.
IN-TURN 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.
LEAD The first player on a team to deliver a pair of stones for his/her team in each end.
OUT-TURN 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.
PEBBLE A fine spray of water applied to a sheet of curling ice before commencing play.
RAISE When one stone is bumped ahead by another.
ROLL The movement of a curling stone after it has struck a stationary stone in play.
SECOND The curler who delivers the second pair of stones for hi/her team in each end.
SHEET The specific playing surface upon which a curling game is played.
SHOT ROCK At any time during an end, the stone closest to the button.
SKIP The player who determines the strategy, and directs play for the team. The skip delivers the last pair of stones for his/her team in each end.
SPARE An alternate player or substitute.
SLIDER Slippery material placed on the sole of the shoe, to make it easier to slide on the ice.
SWEEPING The action of moving a broom or brush back and forth in the path of a moving stone.
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 parallel to the hog line and backline.
THIRD, VICE-SKIP OR MATE 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/her stones and assists with shot selection decisions.
WEIGHT The amount of force given to the stone during the delivery.
Curling Rules and Tips for General Play
The Royal Kingston Curling Club has included several curling links for your convenience below
Curling Positions and Guidelines
Click here to learn some basic curling strategy.
Delivery tips - Learn the importance of delivery, balance, timing, line of delivery and release. These tips will help you improve your game.
How well do you know the ice?