Curling 101

New to curling? Read on for a quick introduction.

In curling, two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones across the ice sheet towards the circular target marked on the ice, known as the house. Once the delivering player has released their stone, their teammates may sweep in front of the rock, which helps the rock maintain its momentum and affects the degree the rock will curl.

Each team has eight stones, with each player delivering two per end (an end is completed when both teams have delivered all of their stones). The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored at the conclusion of each end. Stones of one color resting closer to the center of the house than any stones of the other color each score one point. A game usually consists of eight or ten ends.

Curling FAQs

A curling stone should weigh between 38 and 44 pounds. Most weigh 42. They are made from granite from a particular Scottish quarry, and carefully polished into the round shape.

The friction created by sweeping with a curling broom reduces the traction that the stone has on the ice. This will help the stone to maintain its momentum, allowing it to travel several feet farther than it would without sweeping. Additionally, the faster the stone is traveling, the less it will curl, so sweeping is also used to control the line of the shot. Advanced sweeping techniques can also scratch the ice and allow for even more directional control of the stone.

Both! Each player on a curling team delivers two stones, and most of the players sweep for the stones that their teammates deliver. The exception is the skip, or the team captain, who devises the strategy and shows their teammates where to aim.

The positions on a curling team are:
The lead, who delivers their team’s first two rocks and sweeps for the rest
The second, who sweeps for the lead’s stones, delivers their team’s second two rocks (rocks 3 and 4) and sweeps for the rest
The vice-skip or third, who sweeps for lead’s and second’s stones, delivers stones 5 and 6, and then assists with strategy for their skip.
The skip, who stands at the opposite end of the sheet deciding where the stones should go and holding their broom to assist the thrower’s aim. The skip usually delivers their team’s final two stones of each end.

When curlers yell, they are telling the sweepers whether or not they should be sweeping. A curling sheet is 150 feet long, and the players need to communicate clearly! You’ll frequently hear the words “sweep,” “hurry hard,” “yeah,” to tell players to sweep, and “off,” or “whoa,” to tell them to stop.

At the conclusion of an end (when all the rocks have been delivered and have come to rest), the vice-skips will get together in the house to determine the score. To do this, they determine which team’s stone is closest to the center of the house. Then they count up all of that team’s stones that are closer to the center than any of their opponents stones; that is the number that they score. Only one team can score per end.

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