Curling is a strategic, challenging, and fun team sport that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone.
There are teams and structured courses for children, youth, adult, visually impaired and wheelchair players.
You don’t need much to start playing the game, but getting the right equipment can make a big difference. We have gathered helpful information on the basics of curling including equipment, etiquette and terminology.
Wear warm, comfortable clothing that allows you to bend and stretch easily. Sweat pants are better than jeans. Also, close fitting gloves are easier than large padded ones. You might also want to consider a knee pad!
You cannot curl in your street shoes. You must wear curling shoes or clean shoes only used for curling.
Curling shoes are not a necessity when starting out. A pair of training or deck shoes with clean soles can work well, but even the undersides of these (especially if they’re new) can be a bit slippery. Purchasing two rubber grippers that fit over the soles of your shoes is the best way to go. These grippers really do the job of gripping, and so give curlers more confidence to move freely on the ice. Grippers also help keep the ice clean. PMCC recommends that, for safety reasons, all players wear proper curling grippers.
Newcomers also need a full plastic slider that covers the entire sole of one shoe. Another option is a half slider, which is not quite as slippery as a full slider. It is up to the individual to decide which they are most comfortable with. The shoe shouldn’t have a rubber gripper on it when you attach the slider. Once you have delivered your two rocks, the slider can be easily removed and the gripper put on again in order to play the sweeping part of the game. PMCC recommends that, for safety reasons, curlers practice two gripper sweeping.
First rule of safety: If you are wearing a slider, never step out onto the ice surface with this slider foot. Always step onto the ice with your gripper foot.
Brooms are available at the PMCC rink for a nominal rental fee. If purchasing a broom, these can range in size, weight, and price. Hair brushes may start to shed over time, so synthetic head brooms generally are better for keeping the ice surface free of debris. The choice of broom is a personal one.
Where To Buy Equipment
There are undoubtedly other curling clubs and stores around the lower mainland that sell curling equipment, but here are just a few suggestions of places we know, and that are close to the Tri-Cities area.
- The In Turn Curling at Royal City Curling Club | 604.294.4044, 75 East 6th Ave, New Westminster. Located between McBride Blvd and Cumberland St, by the Canada Games Pool & Fitness Centre. Entrances to the Curling Club’s parking lot are on Cumberland St.
- Golden Ears Winter Club | 604.463.4813, 23588 105th Ave, Maple Ridge. Take the Lougheed Hwy through Maple Ridge, or the Haney By-pass around the town centre. Just after the junction where the by-pass and Lougheed Hwy meet up, and before reaching the Albion Ferry, 105th Ave is on the left hand side. The curling club is located in the Fairgrounds complex by Planet Ice.
- Canadian Tire | https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/sports-rec/winter-sports/curling.html
Rules & Etiquette
Below are some basic points of playing the game that beginners may already be aware of, and some finer points they may not know. Please note these are typical points, not rules modified for dealing with COVID-19.
- Both teams shake hands before a game.
- A player from one team tosses a coin, while the other team makes the call (mostly this task is done by the Thirds/Vice Skips). Whichever team wins the toss has the option of throwing the last rock, or choosing rock colour. The team that wins the toss will usually opt for the advantage of last rock, in which case the other team chooses the colour they want.
- It is usually left to the Third/Vice Skip to put up the score for their own team, but anyone on the team can do this.
- When it’s team A’s turn to throw, players from team B should not be in the area between the backboard and the hog line where team A is throwing. This area is considered to be the territory of team A, and players on team B should wait at the side of the sheet between the two hog lines or behind the backboard. As soon as the rock has been delivered, players from team B can then move into the area to prepare for their team’s throw – and the rule applies the other way round.
- Preparing rocks and placing them in front of the hack for your team mates is good practice. Putting the rock in front of the hack is also something the front-end (Lead and Second) should do for their Skip’s rocks. It all helps to save time and keep the game moving along.
- When your team mate is throwing their rock, sweepers should keep far enough back with their brooms into their bodies, so that they don’t block the sightlines, or impede the movement, of their team mate throwing.
- Similarly, when you have finished sweeping your team’s rock and you’re walking back down the sheet, keep to the edge. Remember that the other team will be throwing their rock and that the sightlines down the sheet should be unblocked.
- You should avoid stepping onto or walking up and down the sheet of ice next to the one you’re playing on if teams are playing on it.
- It’s okay for a Skip to stand behind the other Skip to watch the line, but the Skip behind should try not to have their broom placed down vertically on the ice, since this may put the thrower off by seeing two brooms! It’s courtesy for the Skip standing behind to position their broom horizontally across their body.
- Sweepers should position themselves on or around the tee line, near to the hack, to start sweeping a rock. If your team mate releases a slow moving rock, waiting for it to come to you at the hog line or beyond defeats the purpose of sweeping. Sweepers should start moving with the thrower and be level with the rock ready to sweep as soon as it is released if needed.
- The other reason why sweepers should position themselves closer to the hack for sweeping, is so that when the Skip comes to throw a rock (which would already be waiting for them at the hack!), the Skip can discuss strategy with the sweepers while preparing to throw. This makes it easier for the Skip to communicate with the front-end, the front-end will benefit by knowing what they need to do and will start to understand more about strategy; and it keeps the game moving along quicker.
- Strategy and decision making is the responsibility of the Skip. When it comes time for Skips to throw, they should discuss strategy with their Third/Vice Skip. These decisions should not be drawn out. Taking too much time is unfair on the opposition. Seconds and Leads can get involved in some strategy discussions, but consistently being involved slows the game down.
- All players should be aware of what’s going on in a game. Be ready to throw your rock when it’s your turn.
- Both teams shake hands after a game. If people are having a sociable drink after the game, it’s considered good etiquette to sit with your opposition.
How To Sweep
Keep your broom clean throughout a game, but don’t remove debris from your broom so that it falls onto the playing surface.
Keep your body just in front of the moving rock and push your broom back and forth in a straight or slightly diagonal line across and in front of the rock’s running surface. Making huge strokes beyond the rock’s running surface is wasted effort. Also remember you’re sweeping as a twosome, so making large diagonal sweeping strokes in front of the rock can impede your team mate’s sweeping ability.
When sweeping, it’s better not to have your back to the House (the rings). If you look towards the House, it is safer to see where you are going, what rocks are in play so you don’t trip over one, so that you’re aware of how far the rock has to travel, and also so that you have an idea of the line that the rock is taking.
Be careful not to sweep so close to the rock that you touch it with your broom. Remember, if you do this, or touch the moving rock with any part of your body, your rock is considered “burnt” and must be immediately removed from play.
2 Minute Guide to the Sport of Curling
A comprehensive (and lighthearted) guide to the sport of Curling. How it’s played, scored, won, and why curlers yell so much!
|Back Line||The line that runs across the sheet of ice, tangent to the back of the 12 foot ring at the centre line.|
|Tee Line||The line that runs across the sheet of ice through the middle point of the button.|
|Hog Line||The line that runs across the sheet of ice, 27 feet from the back line.|
|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.|
|Hack||The device in which the thrower places one foot and uses it to push off from to deliver the rock.|
|House||The rings or circle. Consists of the 12 foot, 8 foot and 4 foot rings and the button.|
|Button||The one foot circle at the centre of the House.|
|End||A portion of a game that is completed when each team has thrown 8 stones and the score has been decided.|
|Game||A game consists of a specific number of Ends, usually 8 or 10.|
|Sheet||The specific playing surface upon which a curling game is played.|
|Pebble||A fine spray of water applied to a sheet of ice before commencing play.|
|Rink||A curling team. Also the building in which the game is played.|
|Bonspiel||A curling competition comprised of a number of different events, usually played over a weekend.|
|Funspiel||A curling competition played entirely for fun, where names may be put together to form teams, usually played during an evening.|
|Cashspiel||A curling competition where the prizes consist of cash.|
|Broom or Brush||Device used to sweep the ice in the path of the stone and may be manufactured with straw, hog or horse hair, or synthetic fibres.|
|Brushing or Sweeping||The act of moving the broom back and forth across the ice in front of a moving stone.|
|Clean||To lightly sweep in front of a moving stone to remove debris only.|
|Fast or Slick Ice||Ice conditions that require very little momentum to produce the weight required.|
|Slow or Heavy Ice||Ice conditions that require more momentum to produce the weight required.|
|Straight Ice||Ice conditions which cause the stone to run straight.|
|Swingy Ice||Ice conditions which cause the stone to curl a great distance.|
|Reading The Ice||The skill by which the skip anticipates the amount a stone will curl relative to the weight required.|
|Hammer||The last stone of an end. Also known as last rock advantage.|
|Blank End||An end in which no points have been scored. The team that had the hammer in this end, retains the hammer in the next end.|
|Blanking An End||The strategy by which a team deliberately blanks an end for the purpose of retaining last rock advantage.|
|Out-turn||The rotation applied to the rock’s handle that causes it to turn and curl in a counter-clockwise direction for a right handed player.|
|In-turn||The rotation applied to the rock’s handle that causes it to turn and curl in a clockwise direction for a right handed player.|
|Flipped Out||A stone that is released with poor technique which causes it to be wide of the skip’s broom.|
|Dead Handle, No Handle or Straight Handle||A stone that is released with no rotation of the handle.|
|Spinner||A stone that is released so that it rotates many times as it travels down the sheet.|
|Picked||A moving stone that takes a different direction because it has “picked” up some debris on the ice.|
|Foul The Hog Line or Hog Line Violation||A stone that is released from the thrower’s hand beyond the hog line.|
|Burned or Burnt Rock||A stone in motion touched by a member of either team or by any part of their equipment.|
|Take Out||Removal of a stone from play by hitting it with another stone.|
|Double Takeout||A takeout shot that removes two of the opponent’s stones in one go.|
|Peel||A take out shot that removes a stone from play and where the delivered stone also rolls out of play.|
|Runner||A take out shot that travels very fast.|
|Chip||To hit only a small portion of a stone.|
|Chip And Roll, or Hit And Roll||To hit only a small portion of a stone and roll the delivered stone to another position, usually requiring controlled take out weight.|
|In-off||To hit and roll off a rock that is lying just outside the rings, or in the outer part of the rings, and the delivered rock rolls into the House towards the button.|
|Roll||The movement of a stone after it has struck a stationary stone in play.|
|Raise||When one stone is bumped ahead or advanced by another stone.|
|Split Raise||A stone that raises another stone into the rings and rolls in itself.|
|Port||An opening between two stones that is just large enough to allow for passage of another stone.|
|Draw Weight||The momentum required for a stone to reach the House at the far end to the thrower.|
|Bumper or Backboard Weight||A lightweight takeout thrown with sufficient momentum to reach the backboard at the far end to the thrower.|
|Control Weight||The momentum required on a take out shot to remove a stone from play and also keep the delivered stone in 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.|
|Biter or Nibbler||A stone that just touches the outer edge of the 12 foot circle and which is considered in the House.|
|Counter or Counting||Any stone in the rings or touching the rings which is a potential point.|
|Shot Rock||At any time during an end, the stone which is closest to the button.|
|Fifth Player||The alternate or substitute player on a team.|
|Spare||An alternate player or substitute.|
Follow these links to gain some insight to the sport, its history, its language and how to play:
- Animated video of the Basics of Curling | http://www.curlingbasics.com/
- Glossary | https://www.curling.ca/about-curling/getting-started-in-curling/glossary-of-curling-terms/
- Rules of Curling for General Play | https://www.curling.ca/about-curling/getting-started-in-curling/rules-of-curling-for-general-play/
- Getting Started in Curling for Adults | https://www.curling.ca/about-curling/getting-started-in-curling/getting-started-in-curling-for-adults/