Curling Basics and FAQs

Curling Basics and FAQs
Curling Basics
Playing Surface
The curling playing surface (“sheet”) is 14’6”–16’6” wide and 138’ long, set up to accommodate
play in both directions. The 12’ target at each end (“house”) is the scoring area.
Water sprayed on the ice surface (called pebbling) creates tiny ice bumps for stones to slide.
Team or Rink
Teams usually consist of four players. the “lead” throws the team’s first two stones, the “second”
throws the team’s third and fourth stones, the “third” or “vice-skip” throws the team’s fifth and
sixth stones and handles scoring decisions, and the “skipper” calls the game strategy and
throws the last two stones. Two of the players who are not throwing a stone usually sweep for
the player who is throwing.
Game Play
A game has 8–10 “ends” (similar to baseball innings or bowling frames). The teams alternate
turns throwing stones. The player throwing usually has one shoe with an extremely slippery sole
(a “slider”) to allow the player to slide behind the stone in order to perfect the aim and force of
the throw before releasing. Two of the players who are not throwing a stone usually sweep. The
third player who is not throwing (the “skip” or “vice-skip”) holds a broom to mark where the
throwing player should aim (but not where the stone should stop as explained below). When all
16 rocks have been delivered, the score for that end is determined.
Having the last stone to throw (the “hammer”) is a strategic advantage. A coin toss determines
which team starts the game with the hammer. The team that did not score in the previous end
has the hammer in the next end.
Why Sweep?
The sport is called “curling” because players rotate the stone as they throw it. The rotation of
stone causes it to curve (“curl”) in strategic directions. Where the player aims at the start of
throw is not where the stone actually comes to a stop, so a team can curl their stone around or
behind an opponent’s stone.
Sweeping in front of the stone is critical because it makes the stone travel farther (as much as
15’) and curl less by:
 Polishing ice surface in front of the stone
 Removing frost and debris from the ice (especially in outdoor curling)
 Momentarily warming the ice to create a thin film of water that lubricates the ice
Good sweeping requires strong team communication and split second judgment. In competitive
rather than social games, it also requires a great deal of physical work. Ice conditions have
dramatic differences and even change during a game. The conditions affect how far stones
travel and how much they curl. Skippers therefore must have keen judgment and observation
skills to account for all these factors when calling each shot.
The goal is to place the most stones in the center of the house while knocking out opposing
team stones. Rocks that are not in the house (further from the center than the outer edge of the
12’ ring) do not score even if no opponent’s rock is closer. Strategy is as important as skill,
making it a game of “chess on ice” with sportsmanship as its foundation. After each team throws
all of its eight stones, the score for the “end” (similar to an inning) is tallied and the next end
starts until completing 8–10 ends.
Do I need experience?
No. Your team can do this, no kidding! Volunteer curlers will provide instruction on basic
techniques and rules. Teams will have a little practice time before the games start.
Do I need special skill?
No. If your team survived winter, your team can play. Curlers do NOT wear skates. We can
accommodate most physical limitations (please contact us in advance for wheelchair
Do I need equipment?
No. We will provide all curling equipment.
Will I need a sense of humour?
Of course! We’ll be Iowans curling in August.
What’s the benefit to my team?
Besides having great fun while helping United Way, your team can develop communication
skills, confidence, trust, decision-making skills, leadership, and morale. Plus, there will be many
laughs and a chance to see your coworkers curling.
Can children participate?
Yes, if they are 10 years or older and accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire event.
What should I wear?
We encourage costumes and team themes. Footwear should be clean athletic shoes (without
rocks, dirt, gum, grass, etc.). Please no heels, open toed shoes, dress shoes, boots, slippers,
loafers, or hard soles. The air temperature will be in the 40s (with no wind), perfect for August.
Costumes and clothing should be warm and loose fitting (tight jeans will hinder movement).
Many participants are more comfortable wearing gloves or mittens and a hat. We suggest
dressing in layers so you can easily shed some clothes once you start playing.
Are there awards?
Yes! We will give awards for team spirit, best team costume/theme, champion, runner up,
second runner up, and no-place-to-go-but-up.
What’s the format?
After signing releases and instruction, there will be three rounds of games lasting about 45
minutes each. We will announce scoring rules at the beginning and present awards at 4:30 p.m.
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