null  User manual
Taken from:
The Curler’s Manual
By Grayland Cousins
The Curling School
Minor editing done by Orange County Curling Club and
Hollywood Curling.
OC Curling Club
Overview of the sport ........................................... 3
The Spirit of Curling ............................................. 3
The Curling Team ..................................................4
Equipment ............................................................. 7
Game Flow ............................................................. 8
The Playing Surface ............................................ 13
Sweeping ............................................................. 14
Delivery ................................................................ 21
Types of Shots .................................................... 30
Basic Strategy .................................................... 34
Free Guard Zone ................................................. 36
Practice Ideas ...................................................... 40
Glossary of Terms .............................................. 43
Curling Lingo ...................................................... 45
The Zone System ................................................ 46
The Following is taken from:
The Curler’s Manual
By Grayland Cousins
Minor editing done by Hollywood & Orange County Curling Club
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Overview of the Sport
Curling is a team sport played on ice. Curling originated back in the 1500's on the lakes
and ponds of Northern Europe. The object of the game is for two teams of four players
to slide 42-pound granite rocks down a sheet of ice 140 feet long by 15 feet wide. The
rocks are delivered toward the center of a 12-foot diameter target similar to an archery
target. The targets are painted into the ice at both ends of the sheet of ice, so the game
is played back and forth, usually eight times. Each team positions rocks closest to the
center of the targets in an attempt to score more than their opponent.
Each player throws two rocks toward the target, alternating with the opponent. Rocks
traveling down the ice have a tendency to curve or "curl", hence the name curling.
After all sixteen rocks have been thrown; teams score one point for each rock closest
to the center of the target than the opponent's closest rock.
A unique part of curling is the concept of sweeping. Players vigorously sweep, or
brush, the ice in front of the rock to keep it moving. The friction caused by the
sweeping polishes the ice by briefly heating the surface, which makes the rocks travel
farther and straighter.
The Spirit of Curling
The Spirit of Curling
"Curling is a game of skill and traditions. A shot well executed is a
delight to see and so, too, it is a fine thing to observe the time honored
traditions of curling being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers
play to win but never to humble their opponents. A true curler would
prefer to lose rather than win unfairly.
A good curler never attempts to distract an opponent or
otherwise prevent him/her from playing his/her best.
No curler ever deliberately breaks a rule of the game or any of
its traditions. But, if he/she should do so inadvertently and be aware of
it, he/she is the first to divulge the breach.
While the main objective of the game is to determine the relative
skills of the players, the spirit of the game demands good
sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honorable conduct. This spirit
should influence both the interpretation and application of the rules of
the game and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice."
Curling is one of the few sports in the world that emphasizes etiquette. For the most
part, there are no referees or judges. Rules are based on the honor system and both
teams and spectators admire good shots. Missed shots are never cheered.
Curling is a medal status sport in the Olympic Winter Games, which debuted in the
Nagano, Japan Games in 1998. This status should increase the competitive nature of
the game, as well as interest in the sport. Despite the competitive aspect of the game,
curling remains a highly social sport for all age groups.
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"Broom Stacking"
One of curling's great traditions is broom stacking. The term refers to the social gettogether after each game. Originally, curlers, half way through a curling game on the
pond, would stack their brooms in front of the fire and drink scotch with the opponent.
Curlers now wait until the game is finished but this tradition is still alive today at all
levels of competition. You are expected to socialize with your opponent after every
Competitive Spirit (Advanced)
There is also a bit of broom stacking at competitive levels leading to world play.
Although the focus of these competitive curling events is on determining a champion,
socializing after the game still exists. Even at the most competitive levels, teams will get
together after the game for friendly discussion.
The Curling Team
Teams are made up of four players. Each player throws two rocks, alternating with the
opponent. The first player is known as the Lead and throws the first two rocks. The
second player is known as the Second and throws the second two. The third player is
known as the Vice Skip and throws the third two rocks. The fourth player is known as
the Skip (team captain) and throws the last two rocks.
The skip controls the game by determining all of the shots and developing the game
strategy. Since the rocks curl as they travel down the ice, the throwers must aim at a
point other than the intended resting point. The skip is responsible for providing an
aiming point. The skip places his broom upright, directly over the desired aiming point.
The skip is also responsible for determining whether sweeping is necessary and
communicating this to the sweepers*
* There are certain instances when the skip is not responsible for determining
sweeping. (See section on sweeping)
Building a Team (Advanced)
At the advanced or competitive level, the curling team becomes more than simply a
collection of four individuals. Since curling is one of the only true team sports (everyone
on the team has some responsibility on every shot), a proper "fit" at each position is
Although there are many components to great teams, there are three key elements to
building a great team. Listed below are four key points when building a team. They are
listed in order of priority.
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1. All players are comfortable with the position they are playing. This means a
comfort level with mechanics of the position, but most importantly that the
positional hierarchy (playing lead or second) is in no way a reflection of their skill
2. All players have similar releases and release points.
3. All players throw the rock on the same "line of delivery".
4. All players recognize the value of team communication and coordinated
sweeping techniques.
Elements number two and three can be overcome by playing and practicing together.
Element number one is probably the most important and is responsible for many
teams not staying together for more than a couple of years. "Skip syndrome" means
that more than one player on the team thinks they should skip.
Each position on the curling team has a certain profile. When searching for team
members or analyzing an existing team, keep the following profiles in mind.
The Lead:
Responsibilities: The lead is responsible for setting up the end. In most cases,
the results of the lead rocks determine the tactical approach to any given end. In many
cases, the outcome of the end is a direct result of the leads shots. Once the lead has
thrown both rocks, the lead's responsibility is to be a supportive teammate for the
others and to become one of the core sweepers.
Profile: The lead is the type of person that fully understands the role of the first player.
In the past, the lead has usually been recognized as the least experienced player or the
least skilled player on the team. This may be the case on a league team, but at the
competitive level the lead may be as skilled and experienced as the other players on the
team. The difference is now that the lead clearly recognizes the significant role that is
expected of him or her. Leads generally throw draw shots with a few takeouts in
between. Pick a lead that has very consistent draw weight.
The Second:
Responsibilities: The second's primary responsibility is to maintain the tactical
initiatives developed by the skip and set up by the lead. There are a wider variety of
shots at the second position. The second often is asked to make the first offensive or
aggressive move. This could be the first come-around of the end.
Because of the free guard zone rule, the second may be the one to "get under" first,
meaning the first player to draw behind a guard or guards. On the other hand, the
second may also play the role of clean-up person depending on the strategy of the end.
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The second may be called upon to clear the area with heavy hits or double take outs.
The second should have the ability to throw heavy weight takeouts while still being able
to aim properly (hit the broom).
Profile: The second, like the lead, is the type of person that fully
understands the role of a team player. Since the shot-making requirements are broader
than the lead, the second must possess a well-rounded set of shot-making skills. The
second is the position that is the least recognized in the overall scope of the game.
This person must realize that this position is by no means a glamorous one. If a
cheerleader were present on the team, it would be a perfect fit at the second position.
The Vice Skip:
Responsibilities: The vice is called upon to make every type of shot known to
the sport, from guards to peels and from freezes to doubles. The vice skip must have
the skills to throw any type of shot at any time. The vice is often asked to make the "kill"
shot. This is the shot that seals the end. In addition to shot-making skills, the vice must
have excellent knowledge of strategy and house management. This is the most difficult
job on the team because the vice is expected to make flawless sweep calls on the
skip's rocks. Remember, the vice only calls sweeping on only two shots per end. In
most cases, the vice is the most well rounded player on the team.
Profile: The vice skip must also be a true team player. Because their skill level
parallels the skip, they must support and have confidence in the skip as the team
leader. They must fully understand that even though they might be the best shooter
on the team, their role as vice is critical.
The Skip:
Responsibilities: The skip's role is to provide overall leadership and strategic
direction to the team; the biggest responsibility of the skip is to "close" the end. This
could be the final execution of the tactics developed for the end. On great teams, the
skip is called upon to throw maintenance shots like guards, open takeouts, open draws
etc. However, in many cases the skip is called upon to make key offensive shots like
come-arounds, freezes, hit and rolls, and four foot draws all under pressure.
Profile: The skip must have a stabilizing influence over the rest of the team. Even if
the skip is not the best shooter on the team, he/she must be able to calmly execute
the final shots. After the skip throws, the end is over. Because of this, the pressure of
any given shot may be extremely high. The team must have the confidence that the
skip will close the end successfully. Obviously, team dynamics are an important part
of a team's success. There is no guarantee that four great shot makers will make a
great team until they have become a cohesive unit with similar goals and expectations
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Equipment For Curlers
Curling equipment comes in a range of complexity and cost. The only essential items
are a "slider" and a "broom". A slider is most often a piece of Teflon®, plastic or steel
that is slipped onto one foot in order to easily slide down the sheet of ice. The modern
game of curling is designed around the ability to slide with no effort. The other foot
usually wears a rubber-soled shoe used to grip the ice. One foot pushes while the
other slides. Right-handed curlers push with their right foot and slide on their left.
The broom or brush is used to sweep the ice (polish it, actually) and most curling
clubs have brooms available for use.
There are many distributors of curling equipment in Canada, the United States and
Europe. Most veteran curlers choose to have their own curling equipment; shoes,
brooms, special curling gloves, pants, jackets, etc. The list of equipment is endless.
Consult your local instructor or curling professional for advice on appropriate
Equipment for the Curling Club
Curling facilities own a variety of equipment that directly affects the game. The most
critical, and the most expensive are the rocks themselves. They are made from solid
chunks of special, high-density granite found in Scotland. The cost of each stone is
around $500.00! With proper care, curling stones can last many decades.
Other equipment at the curling club includes measuring devices, ice scrapers, large
maintenance brooms, scoreboards and climate control equipment.
Equipment and Performance (Advanced)
Having the proper equipment is an important component to playing well. Since there
is an endless list of equipment, decisions on the best equipment to use may be
difficult. The following is a list of subtle differences that you should consider.
Sliders come in various speeds, shapes and materials. Generally, the advanced curler
will use a slider that provides the least amount of friction. The 'thick" Teflon® slider is
the most common advanced slider. It is extremely fast and quiet.
Another type of slider that may be faster is one made of stainless steel. These sliders
are cost prohibitive for most curlers. Other advanced sliders include the "red brick"
slider. It is a fast slider that is very effective on frosty or rough surfaces.
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Some advanced curlers prefer a slower slider. Some say they provide a better "feel"
over the ice. Thin Teflon sliders in some cases allow for a slower, more controlled
Today's brooms are mostly synthetic made of Cordura® or other similar material. The
synthetic broom is effective, efficient and clean.
The Game Flow
Games consist of either eight or ten "ends" depending on the level of competition.
League and bonspiel games are generally eight ends while play leading to a national or
world championship would be ten ends. An end in curling is similar to an inning in
baseball. Each end takes approximately fifteen minutes, so an eight end game would
generally take two hours to play.
Teams are usually assigned to a given sheet of ice (similar to a lane in bowling) at the
curling club. Curling clubs have anywhere from two sheets to eight sheets of ice.
Beginning the Game
The game begins with a handshake. It is customary for each player to shake
hands with each opposing player and each teammate.
Most curlers take a few practice "slides" before actually throwing the first rock. This is
done by sliding out of the hack area with no rock. Do not throw rocks prior to any game
unless it is specifically mentioned in the league rules. Practice slides help limber up the
body (pre-game stretching is also recommended, see the section on the Delivery) prior
to throwing the first rock. The vice skips on each team toss a coin to determine who has
the last rock advantage in the first end. In most cases the winner of the coin toss
chooses to throw the last rock, the loser of the toss chooses the rock color.
At this point, the skips move to the opposite end of the ice and the team not delivering
moves to between the hog lines. The skip calls the shot, the first rock is thrown, and the
game is on.
Note: In many clubs, the rocks are numbered from one to eight. Unless told otherwise, the lead
should throw rocks number one and two, the second throws three and four and so on.
Each player will throw two stones per end, alternating with the opponent. Your team
throws one; the opposing team throws one, and so on. As the lead is throwing, the
second and vice are designated sweepers, with the skip calling the shots. When the
second is throwing, the lead and vice are the sweepers. When the vice is throwing, the
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lead and seconds are sweeping. When it comes time for the skips to throw, the vice
skip takes over responsibility of the house and calls all sweeping for direction. The lead
and second remain as the sweepers for the skip's shots. Yes, the lead and second
sweep more than the vice and the skip doesn't sweep at all.
Position of Players
Understanding where to position yourself on the ice is critical to team performance as
well as playing by the rules. The leads and seconds must position themselves
between the hog lines unless they are about to sweep or about to deliver a rock.
If you are about to deliver a rock, position yourself behind the hack and remain quiet
and still as your opponent delivers. As soon as the opponent delivers the rock, choose
your rock and move into the hack area. While the opponent's rock is still in motion,
begin the setup process in the hack.
If you are about to sweep, position yourself on the tee line approximately one foot from
the sideline. As your teammate begins to deliver, start moving forward and to the center
trying to "meet" the rock near the hog line. At this point you may begin sweeping the
rock if necessary.
When you have stopped sweeping, return to the other end of the ice. Be sure not to
walk down the center of the sheet, preventing the opponent from viewing. As you
are walking back, try not to distract the opponent in the hack. If time permits, stop
and remain still while the opponent is delivering.
Completing the End
Once all sixteen rocks have come to rest, the vice skips from each team agree on how
many rocks are counting and to which team they belong. Only one team can score in
an end and the most any team can score would be all eight rocks thrown. Occasionally,
when the counting rock or rocks can't be determined by the naked eye, a special
measuring device is used (see "Measuring Devices" later in this section). Normal
scoring in an end may be one, two, three or even four rocks. Scores of five, six and
seven are much less common. Scoring all eight rocks is as rare as a hole-in-one in golf
and many players never see one.
The Score Board
The vice skip of the scoring team is responsible for posting the score after each end.
On the curling scoreboard, the numbers 1 through 16 (possibly 17, 18, 19 etc.) are
painted horizontally from left to right. These numbers represent the rocks scored. At
one end of the scoreboard, there is a stack of individual numbers from 1 to 8, (9 & 10 if
needed). These represent the ends and are hung either over or under the painted
numbers. Since teams throw different colored rocks, the ends are hung above or
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below the painted numbers depending on color. In curling the rocks scored are posted
cumulatively, meaning two rocks scored in the second end are added to whatever was
scored in the first end (if any).
The team scoring in the end throws first in the next end. This means that the
scoring team will never have last rock advantage after just scoring.
Finishing the Game
At the completion of the game, it is customary to again shake hands with your
opponents and your teammates. It is now time for broom stacking. Most curling
clubs have some sort of gathering area for broom stacking teams. There will usually
be table set up behind each sheet of ice designated for this.
Game Speed
Most people find that fifteen minutes per end is a comfortable pace for the game. In
fact, most league schedules and game times rely on this. Slow play not only delays
following games, but people will get bored or cold if the pace of their game is too
slow. It is important to be ready to throw when it is your turn.
Timed Games (Advanced)
At all championship level games and in some bonspiels, time clocks are used to
control the speed of the games. The reason for time clocks is to prevent one team
from taking enormous amounts of time to call the game. The clock is similar to a chess
clock and each team has 75 minutes to complete a ten end game. Teams out of time
lose the game.
The clock begins at the start of the rock's forward motion and stops when the rock has
either stopped or crossed the side or back line. However, for the clock to stop, the skip
or acting skip must be clear of the playing area. Skips should note that even if your
rock has come to rest, the clock would continue to run until you completely give way to
the opposing skip.
It is necessary for the lead and second to be ready to play when the opponent's rock
comes to rest. This is a noticeable difference in the pace of the game. Teams under
the clock no longer have the luxury of casually moving into the hack and taking their
time. The pace at the beginning of end is usually faster than the pace at the end due
to the vice skips and skip s discussing the shots. The faster the leads and second are,
the more time the back end has to discuss the strategy.
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Measuring Rocks
Occasionally rocks are too close to determine a counter with the naked eye or players
cannot determine whether or not a rock is in play. For these reasons, there are three
types of measuring devices available.
The first and most often used device is simply called the "measure". It is used to
determine the counting rock or rocks in the house. It is a piece of tubular metal
approximately six and a half feet long with a sliding gauge on it. It can only be used
after all eight rocks have come to rest.
The second device is called the "six foot" measure. It is used to determine whether a
rock is in play at the back of the house. Unlike the above device, it may be used during
the end. There are only two reasons to use the six-foot measure:
1. To determine if a rock at the intersection of the back line and centerline is in play.
The back line overlaps the back of the house and if the lines were installed properly, a
rock that is not within six feet of the center, it is out of play.
Free Guard Zone Measure
2. To determine if a rock is in the house. If the rock is not on the centerline and back
line and the free guard zone rule is being played, it can be used during the first four
The third is called the "90 degree" measure". It is an "L" shaped piece of metal use to
determine if a rock is in play around the perimeter of the playing area.
Measuring Procedures
Vice skips are responsible for measuring rocks if necessary. The following is the
correct procedure for measuring.
Measuring Two Rocks
1. After retrieving the measuring device, enter the back of the house with the
measuring point (the part that goes in the center hole) in your right hand.
2. You will measure rocks in a clockwise direction. Place the center point in the center
hole and put the measuring device on the ice 180 degrees from the first rock to be
measured. This allows you to place the device on the ice away from the rocks in
3. As you approach the first rock, determine if any adjustments are needed in the
device and make them.
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4. Measure the first rock, leave it in place and remember the reading on the
5. Swing the device clockwise to the next rock. The reason we go clockwise with the
right hand is to ensure the device is in front of you during the rotation. This prevents
"backing" into other rocks and displacing them.
6. Measure the second rock and make a decision as to which one is closer. The
second rock either in or out depending on the result. Always point to the closer
rock for spectators.
Measuring Three Rocks
1. After retrieving the measuring device, enter the back of the house with the
measuring point (the part that goes in the center hole) in your right hand.
2. You will measure rocks in a clockwise direction. Place the center point in the
center hole and put the measuring device to the left of the odd colored rock.
3. As you approach the odd colored rock, determine if any adjustments are
needed in the device and make them.
4. Measure the odd colored rock first and leave it in place. This is the "control rock".
5. Swing the device clockwise to the next rock and measure it.
6. After making the decision on the second rock, move it either in or out depending
on the decision. Do not move the first rock. Indicate with your hand the closer of
one and two.
7. Move to the third rock and measure it. Again, move it in or out based on your
decision. The first rock will be your reference rock and should not be moved.
In both situations it is acceptable to swing the device back to the first rock for a closer
look. If rocks cannot be determined by device, a blank end will result. This is very
If two or more rocks are so close to the button that the device cannot be used, a
decision will be made visually. Find an impartial person to do this for you.
Using the Six-Foot Measure
1. Enter the house from the rear with the pointer in your right hand.
2. Place the six-foot pointer in the center hole and rest the device on the ice at 180degrees from the first rock.
3. Slowly swing the device clockwise until it either contacts the rock or swings past
it. Never throw the device at the rock as it may come out of the hole and displace
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the rock.
4. If, during a free guard zone measure, another rock is in the six-foot path, a
decision will be made visually.
The Playing Surface
Some History
As mentioned earlier, the game originated on the frozen lochs of Western Europe.
There was a point in curling history where temporary enclosures were placed around
the curling section of the frozen lake. This was done to protect the curlers from wind
and snow.
Ice that is prepared by nature is known as "natural" ice. For natural ice to occur,
obviously the temperature must be below 32° F. This limited the growth of curling to
Northern Europe. When the sport finally came to North America (early 1800's), it was
primarily played in Canada, where the winter temperatures were consistently below
In the early 1900's, refrigeration technology allowed ice to be prepared in natural
temperatures higher than 32°. This ice is known as "artificial" ice. Almost all curling
facilities now have artificial ice, which allows curling to thrive in the United States.
Artificial ice is produced using ammonia or Freon® to super-cool a liquid such as
brine which is then circulated under the ice. This is done by running pipes under the
playing surface. The pipes are usually about four inches apart, run the length of each
sheet, and carry cold brine. A four-sheet club has approximately six miles of piping
under the ice. This system can be regulated and adjusted for different conditions.
Generally, the brine temperature would be 20-24 degrees yielding an ice surface
temperature of 23-26 degrees.
The Ice
From a distance, curling ice appears perfectly smooth. After a closer look, you'll notice
that the ice appears bumpy. The rocks actually ride on little frozen bumps called
"pebble". The pebble is put on before each game with a machine that works like a
flower sprinkler. Without the pebble, there would be too much friction between the ice
and the rocks, and it would take enormous energy to move the rocks forward.
The ice is maintained by sweeping the debris off the ice between games and scraping
the surface two or three times a week. A special scraping machine is manufactured
just for curling ice. The machine completely removes the buildup of pebble and any
ground-in dirt before new pebble is applied.
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Occasionally, due to the uneven freezing of the surface, the entire area is flooded
and allowed to freeze slowly. This levels the ice and is usually done about every six to
eight weeks.
It is very difficult to prepare a perfectly level ice surface. Even though most
imperfections can't be seen, the way the rocks behave while in motion may indicate
The Air
The air temperature in some clubs is controlled. The ideal air temperature is around 40
F degrees. This is a comfortable for the curlers and keeps the relative humidity low so
frost won’t build up on the ice. Some Clubs have dehumidification systems. This further
decreases the relative humidity.
This section will cover all aspects of sweeping. Specifically, the areas covered are:
• The Purpose of Sweeping
• Why Rocks Curl
• Sweeping Equipment
• Sweeping Mechanics
Advanced Sweeping Topics such as:
• Team Sweeping
• Corner Sweeping
• Finishing The Draw
• Judging Weight
The Purpose of Sweeping
In the early days of curling, when games were played outdoors on the lochs, snow and
other debris had to be cleared from the path of the moving rocks. Bunches of sticks
were used as debris clearing devises. However, as the sport evolved, it became clear
that, in addition to clearing debris, vigorous sweeping actually made the rocks travel
farther and straighter.
The purpose of sweeping is twofold:
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1. Sweeping makes the rock travel farther.
2. Sweeping makes the rock travel straighter.
Why Rocks Curl
Before discussing the technical aspects of sweeping, it is crucial to understand what is
happening underneath the rock as it travels down the ice. Curling rocks are
approximately 12 inches in diameter; however, there is a ringed portion that the rock
actually rides on. This ring is about 5 inches in diameter and is called the running
Rocks are intentionally rotated either clockwise or counter-clockwise when thrown. Most
rocks, if thrown without a rotation, will assume a rotation at some unpredictable point.
Intentional rotation provides the necessary degree of predictability as the rock travels
down the ice. As the rock is rotating, one side of the running surface will always be
moving faster than the other as it travels over the ice surface.
Example: When a rock traveling down the ice has a clockwise rotation, the left
side of the rock is traveling faster over the ice.
The running edge of the rock that is moving faster is known as the "outside edge" and
the slower side is the "inside edge". Objects moving faster create more friction, so
the faster edge has more friction than the slower edge. Because the fast side (the
outside edge) has more friction, it causes more "frictional melting" of the ice. We also
know that ice with water on it is more slippery than dry ice. This causes the rock to
"bite" the ice more on the dry side causing it to "pivot" to the right. Therefore, a rock with
a clockwise rotation will curl from left to right.
How Sweeping Works
The sweeping motion briefly polishes the ice just before the rock travels over it. This
polishing is accomplished by warming the ice slightly, increasing the overall frictional
melting, and allowing the rock to continue moving longer. This results in the rock
traveling farther. This is technically defined as decreasing the rate of deceleration. The
overall reduction in friction has another effect: Since the rock is biting less on both
sides, the rock will travel straighter.
Sweeping cannot make a rock move faster, only farther!
The Weight Window
The amount of force necessary to propel rock forward is known as "weight". Good
sweepers can add an additional 8 - 12 feet to a rocks distance. This is important to
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know because as you are throwing the rock, your throwing weight needs only to fall
inside this 8-12 foot "weight window". This provides a fairly comfortable margin of
error for the thrower.
A rock thrown 8 feet short of the house without sweeping
can easily be swept into the house by good sweepers. As a
thrower, your responsibility was to hit the "window" and not the
actual finished shot. This is what makes sweeping such a critical
part of the game.
Sweeping Equipment
There are two types of sweeping devices, the broom and the brush. The broom was
the original device and, as mentioned earlier, was simply a group of sticks tied together
and attached to a tree branch that acted as the handle. The broom evolved into what is
today, a grouping of corn and straw tightly bound together and attached to a thick
wooden handle. This type of sweeping device was the preferred item up until the late
1970's. The vigorous swinging motion required by the broom is significantly more
difficult to do than the brush. Because of this, and the escalating costs of corn brooms,
instructors began teaching curlers to use the brush. For the most part, the corn broom
is a thing of the past and the sport will miss the unique, sweeping motion that provided
a certain rhythmic flair to the sport.
The brush has certainly been around for a long time. Because of its relatively quiet
sweeping motion, it had been perceived as being ineffective. Many social and
competitive curlers today will agree that sweeping with a brush is quite an effective and
efficient sweeping method and a good overall use of the team's energy.
There are a variety of synthetic brushes being used today. Stretched fabric, such as
Cordura, is used in place of the natural hair. Although introduced many years ago,
these brushes became popular in 1993 and are now the sweeping standard. Some
people argue that the synthetic brushes are so effective in polishing the ice that they
actually erode the valuable pebble that the rocks ride on. This creates an undesirable
"flat" surface with more friction.
Mechanics of Sweeping
Let's talk about what makes a sweeper effective. The best sweepers today are
effective and efficient. Sweeping effectiveness has been the focus of much debate.
While many people argue that the most effective sweeping comes from rapid
movement of the brush, others argue that effective sweeping is caused by increased
pressure of the brush on the ice. We believe that a strong balance of both will achieve
optimum results. Rapid movement with as much pressure as possible is what great
sweepers strive for. Sweeping efficiency refers to a sweeper's ability to be the most
effective while using the least amount of energy.
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The Sweeping Stroke
To start sweeping properly, take a standing position that is 45 degrees to the rock's
path, facing the rock and the skip at the same time. With the brush head on the ice,
place the inside hand (the hand closest to the rock) on top of the brush handle half way
between the head and the end of the handle. This is the bottom hand and it will be
supporting much of your body weight during the sweeping stroke. The outside hand
(top hand) should be placed underneath the handle about one foot from the top. The
end of the handle will be tucked into the arm.
Brush Motion
The rules state that you must move the brush from side to side. It is not clearly stated
as to what side-to-side really means only that is should "roughly perpendicular" to the
stone's path and that brush head movement must be "clear and visible". The most
effective brush head motion is roughly 90 degrees to the stone's path and covers an
area just wider than the running surface, which is about five inches. A sweeping
motion that is shorter than this is subject to scrutiny by the officials (snowplowing) and
a motion greater than this is waste of energy. The stroke should be away from your
body, and then back towards your body. Keep your top arm tight to your body. By
staying tight, you will begin to put more and more pressure on the head as you begin
to move your weight over the top of the brush.
The power of the sweeping stroke comes from the top shoulder. The shoulder actually
"drives" the brush head out and pulls it back. Because this, most right handed curlers
(strong right side) will feel more comfortable sweeping on the right side.
For best results, place the strongest sweeper about 4 to 5 inches in front of the
traveling rock. This is called "taking the rock". Move the brush head across the path
approximately 6 inches (slightly wider than the diameter of the running surface). The
second sweeper should be as close as possible to the inside sweeper without risking
contact with the brushes. As a beginner, you may want to stay well clear of the rock to
avoid hitting it with the brush. The most effective team sweeping is with the sweepers
on opposite sides because the brushes can easily stay close together. Eighty percent
of the sweeping effectiveness comes from the inside sweeper. And the outside
sweeper represents the other twenty percent. However, the only way the inside
sweeper can achieve this eighty percent is with the second sweeper. The second
sweeper actually prepares the ice for the inside sweeper. They work together to create
great sweeping. Sweeping with only one person will reduce the effectiveness by
approximately fifty percent.
Note: Adding a third sweeper accomplishes almost nothing. As a skip or a
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thrower, avoid "jumping in" to help. This is a waste of time and only
increases the chances of a teammate burning a rock.
The "Angle Brush"
The angle brush is a standard brush with the head turned at a 45-degree angle. It was
created to cover the entire running surface while using a small brush head stroke. This
was done to keep the path as clean as possible without the need to move the brush
quickly. Another strong benefit of the angle brush is the decreased distance between
the inside and outside sweepers since the angle brush head is perpendicular to the
path instead of parallel to it.
The Foot Motion
In the delivery section, the use of a slider was discussed. Proper sweeping must be
done without a slider. If you throw with a slider, remove it for sweeping. If your slider is
built into your shoe, cover it with a gripper. Sweeping effectiveness requires a solid
platform to sweep from. The proper sweeping motion as the rock and sweeper travel
down the ice, looks like a skating motion. Walking fast or jogging next to the rock is not
very efficient. As you move with the rock, your inside foot should be skating forward.
Your outside foot should also be skating forward but it will lead the body. The outside
foot will extend much farther than the inside. The inside foot should also never cross the
outside foot during the motion.
To have the greatest degree of flexibility with your teammates, learn to sweep
effectively on both sides of the rock. This will allow you to sweep with anyone at
Advanced Sweeping Guidelines
Team Sweeping
Sweepers are ultimately responsible for judging the weight of the rock thrown. Is it
moving too fast, too slow or just right? It is not realistic to expect the skip to judge the
weight from 120 feet away. After the rock has been thrown, the sweepers communicate
the weight of the rock to the skip. The skip then makes a sweeping decision based on
whether or not the rocks curl needs to be straightened out.
Judging the weight of the rock is very difficult and takes lots of practice. You can
increase your ability to judge rocks with a few sweeping techniques.
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1. Sweep as upright as possible, this allows you to visualize the entire field of play
and judging motion and speed becomes easier.
2. Take a sweeping position that faces the skip. This also helps view the entire
field of play and allows you to view the skip at all times. Curling clubs can be very
loud at times and visual contact with the skip may be the only way to communicate.
This can be done by placing the hand that is closest to the rock in the lower
position. This will naturally put you in a "facing forward" position.
Team sweeping refers to teams striving for similar sweeping styles. This continuity will
make all sweeping calls more consistent. For example, the most effective sweeping is
two sweepers sweeping from opposite sides of the rock. This allows the brushes to
be as close as possible to each other, limiting the amount of cool down that happens
after the brush passes over the surface.
Corner Sweeping (illegal, for the most part)
In the early 90's (1990's), a new sweeping concept became popular called corner
sweeping. This refers to sweeping across one side of the running surface instead
of sweeping across the entire running surface. This was done in an attempt to have
even greater control over the rocks curl. For example, by sweeping the inside edge of a
takeout (the slow side), friction is reduced on the slow side only, reducing the curl.
Sweeping the outside edge of a draw would make it curl more. This results in more
effective sweeping. There is a down side to corner sweeping however; it is very difficult
to be control the consistency of the rock's curl. This results in less predictable shots.
Even though corner sweeping may be more effective, most good teams prefer to
concentrate on overall sweeping skills.
The sweeping of one corner only is a violation of the rules. To conform to the
newest rule, the corner must be swept by using differential pressure. The entire brush
head will cover the running surface but only the desired edge will receive pressure.
"Split" Timing
Another reason to time shots is to help the sweepers decide whether the rock was
thrown hard enough. A designated sweeper would start timing their teammates shot as
it crosses the nearer back line and stopping the clock as it crosses the nearer hog line.
This "split" is the time it takes the rock to travel from back line to hog line will indicate its
ability to make it the rest of the way. This is a relative measurement. The time that is
measured cannot be calculated into an actual total time due to the deceleration of the
rock. The times can be used as a reference.
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If one of your players usually has a 3.8 second split and that player throws
a rock with a 4.0 second split, it is likely to need sweeping.
This technique works only with players that have consistent, fluid deliveries.
A word of caution, don't rely on the clock as your sale judge of sweeping. As you
develop, you will be able to judge rocks without the use of clocks. Remember, great
curlers see themselves as artists and not scientists.
"Finishing" the Draw
Most curlers associate sweeping with rocks traveling farther and straighter. This is true
for most shots. There is a case though when sweeping will cause a rock to curl more.
As a draw is coming to rest, many curlers continue to sweep the rock in an attempt to
keep it straight. This actually continues the rocks curl. Imagine the arc of a rock that is
curling. It begins straight then starts to curl. The rock is now pointing in a different
direction. If the rock could move forever, it would eventually leave the sheet of ice
across the sideline. Sweeping rocks after the curl begins does two things:
1. It reduces the amount of additional curl.
2. It keeps the rock moving on its current path.
Finishing the rock refers to keeping it moving on its arc. This pulls the rock even
deeper behind a guard because the rock is still moving on its new path (curling).
This is important to know since many come-around shots can be "finished", meaning
the rocks can be swept under the guard. For additional finishing try corner sweeping
once the rock passes the guard.
The mistake many new skips and vices make is to stop sweeping. This only makes
the rock stop short and not continue to curl under. On the other hand, if a rock is
curling too much at the end, stop sweeping. Additional sweeping here will only
continue the rocks path.
Delivery - The All-Body Method
This section will introduce you to the fundamentals of delivering the curling rock using
CurlTech's All-Body method. These "mechanics", when applied consistently, will
improve shot making leading to overall enjoyment of the game. The basics covered in
this section will enable any curler to enjoy club level social games as well as top-level
competitive games. The delivery fundamentals are the same for all levels of play.
The term All-Body refers the coordination of many muscles and body parts moving in
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fluid motion. The combination of small and large muscle use will enable you to achieve
power and finesse in your game.
Discussed here are the major delivery components, the press, drawback-step, the
slide and the release. Also discussed are the four key power generators in the
delivery; weight shift, body drop, and extension.
All-Body Delivery Principles:
Several things make the All-Body delivery different from other deliveries. The first being
the use of large and small muscles (all-body) to throw the rock. The next is fluidity. The
delivery skills taught here, when done properly, will become seamless. Nothing about
the delivery is stepped or broken. This is critical for the development of the body's
kinesthetic sense of motion* needed for judging draw weight and overall rock control.
The United States Curling Association teaches beginning curlers the ABCs of
delivery. This booklet explores delivery in depth, but will highlight the ABCs for
A = Alignment. Keep everything aligned from setup to release.
B = Balance. Maintain Good Balance for a consistent delivery
C = Curl. Use the proper grip, turn, and release for a good curl.
* Kinesthetic sense of motion refers to the body's interpretation of relative
movement through a variety of sensory inputs.
The Delivery Process
The process for delivering a rock includes the thing happening before and after. The
four component parts described earlier must be included in an overall process of
delivering the rock. Let's first review the entire process.
Setup & shot planning and pre-shot mental preparation
Forward press
Draw Back & Step
As you can see, the four components are represented in the process. These steps
should become seamless over time.
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1. Setup and Mental Preparation
Setup (Alignment)
Setup refers to the body position in the hack. It should be comfortable and relaxed. As
your opponent's rock is traveling down the ice begin this process. When your skip is
ready to call the shot you'll be ready.
a) Start from behind the hack and step into it by placing the ball of your foot against
the back of the hack, toe pointing towards the broom. Try to place the foot as far
towards the inside of the hack as possible.
b) Most of your weight should be on your hack foot at this time. It will stay there for
the beginning portion of your delivery.
c) Drop to a comfortable squatting position with approximately 70% of your body
weight on the hack foot. Keep your back straight but relaxed.
d) Place your sliding foot flat on the ice, slightly ahead and to the left of the hack foot
(heel to toe). There should be about one to two inches between the toe of the hack
foot and the heel of the sliding foot.
e) Clean the rock - Flip the rock and clean the running surface. With the rock still
inverted, clean the ice area under the rock and replace the rock in position. Do this
to the side to keep debris away from the sliding area.
f) Point the knee of your hack leg directly down the line of delivery, directly at
the broom. The shoulders and hips must also be square to the broom at this point.
g) Holding the broom with the pad facing up, place the head of the broom about one
foot ahead of the sliding foot. The broom handle should be gripped one to two feet
from the brush head. The grip point depends on the length of your arm and body. It
should be in a position to comfortably hold the broom with the head in the correct
position with the left arm slightly flexed. It is important to keep the head of the
broom clearly ahead of you sliding foot throughout the delivery. Allowing the
broom to fade back in the delivery will move your shoulder back and out of
h) Position the rock on an imaginary line between the skip's broom and the
center of the hack*. The rock will be under your throwing shoulder. Your
throwing arm must have a small degree of flex at the elbow at setup.
i) Grip the rock - Place your fingers under the handle until your middle finger is
directly over the center of the rock. Hold the handle with the first set of pads on the
fingers. Your palm should never touch the handle. Bring your thumb across the
handle to the other side and place it near the tip of your index finger. Keep the wrist
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high. Your hand should remain in this position throughout the delivery. Cock the
stone in the opposite direction of the intended turn. This is towards your body for in
turns and away from your body for out turns. The position should be at 1:30 to the
right or 10:30 to the left. Keep this angle throughout the delivery until you are ready
to release the rock.
You are now ready to begin preparing mentally for a successful shot.
Pre-Shot Mental Preparation
Use the power of positive thinking when about to throw a shot. Remember that games
should be played swiftly (about fifteen minutes per end) so don't spend too much time
here. This process should take only a few seconds.
Mechanics of the pre-shot mental preparation:
Prior to setup, try to anticipate the shot called.
Get in the proper setup position.
Understand the shot called (confirm with sweepers if necessary).
Visualize perfect mechanics.
Visualize yourself hitting the broom with the perfect weight.
Visualize success.
Channel your focus.
It is important to visualize the weight and line before visualizing the completed shot. The
entire setup and mental prep process should take 8 -12 seconds.
2. The Forward Press (Alignment)
Once you are comfortable in the setup position, the skip has called the shot and the
sweepers are ready, the fluid motion of the delivery starts. Begin by moving the rock
slightly forward approximately 4 to 5 inches. This is the beginning of your body's
kinesthetic sense of motion, which again is critical to proper weight judgment.
Remember to keep the grip described above.
As the rock is pressed forward, your lower body should remain still. Move only at the
waist and keep both arms slightly flexed at the elbow. Your knee may drop slightly but
try to avoid pressing forward with just your arm; this will take your shoulders out of
square before you even begin the delivery.
2A Curlers with knee problems and/or limited relative leg strength.
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When you begin the forward press, also begin to elevate your hips. By the end of the
press, the hips are fully elevated as in step 3. (This is the fluid version of the trunk lift)
3. The Draw Back & Step (Alignment)
This component is one of the most important. Generating power in the delivery is
critical to controlling the rock. Power generation starts with the draw back as the hips
are elevated and shifted back. This positions the hips up and back which enables your
body to drop and shift forward in the next step. The remaining power will be generated
from leg drive and the arm extension. (discussed in step 3a). Think of drawing in
energy then directing the energy forward toward the skip's broom.
Draw the rock back to the side of your foot*. Simultaneously, shift your hips slightly up,
back and take a step straight back until your sliding foot is behind the hack. Your
throwing arm will almost be straight. At this point, your hips should be back (anywhere
from directly over the hack to well behind it, depending on skill and ice conditions) and
about a foot higher than the setup position. Your weight has shifted to the sliding foot
with the foot about three to six inches behind the hack. It is very important that the
sliding foot is directly behind the position it started in. If your weight is not on the sliding
foot at this point, you probably have not shifted properly, giving up critical delivery
4. Generating Power - Transitioning from the Drawback-Step to the slide (Alignment)
Now is the time to generate power in the delivery. Power refers to the amount of
forward motion your body can generate. Power equals control. The more power
generated the more control you will have over the rock (and your game).
* Ask your instructor if it is appropriate to draw the rock back to a place other than the
side of your foot. There may be instances where drawing the rock to the center of the
hack or to the hack toe is better for you and your team.
5. The Body Drop (Alignment into Balance)
With your arm still slightly flexed at the elbow, begin shifting your body weight forward
smoothly. As your body begins to move forward, the rock must move forward with it.
This keeps the rock in front of your body keeping it on the line of delivery. Leave your
sliding foot behind the hack (straight back from setup) until the rock is twothree feet in front of the hack. As your body moves forward over the hack and then
over the ice, quickly kick your sliding foot under the center of your body. Your foot
should "catch" your body as it drops. Try and wait until the last moment to bring your
sliding foot forward and place it in a position on the ice that will allow your body to
balance over it. As a reference, the rock should almost be half way between the hack
and the back line as the sliding foot is crossing the hack foot. This "body drop"
enables the weight shift and gravity to generate power. The combination of the fast
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sliding foot motion and the weight of your body coming forward and down to the
delivery position will generate the power needed. With this combination move, you will
generate enough power to throw the wide range of shots with accuracy and
consistency. Be careful not to kick your sliding foot past the center of your body (too
far right). The result will be a drift to the right as your body is not balanced over the
sliding foot. Each of these power generators needs to be modified as conditions
change. See the section on "Harnessing Power" at the end of the chapter for some
ideas on how to adjust weight.
6. The Slide (Balance)
At this point gently push out of the hack with your leg. The leg drive should
perfectly compliment the weight given to the rock by weight shift and body drop. Leg
drive is 30% or less of the total power of the delivery. Weight shift, body drop and arm
extension represent the remaining 70%. Excessive leg drive produces more of a
"push" from the large leg muscle (quadriceps) instead of a fluid "throw" from the
whole body.
As you slide out, you will now be transferring all of your weight from the hack foot to
the sliding foot. This is the most difficult part of the curling delivery. A little
assistance from the broom during this shift may be needed. Your sliding foot should
move in behind the rock with the heel on the line of delivery. The heel should be on line
in the center of the rock. Once your sliding foot is in place, the heel should be
underneath your sternum. Try to angle your sliding foot out at this point. By turning the
foot to the left (out) you increase the sliding area of the foot. Approximately 45 degrees
is optimal however, some people cannot turn their foot in this manner.
No downward pressure should be on the rock or the broom at this point. Your hack foot
should trail directly behind your body, on the line of delivery.
Your upper body should be roughly 45° to the ice. This position allows good balance
and visualization of the entire plane in front of you. A position that is too low will not
allow the visualization of the plane while a position too high will not allow good
broom alignment.
Your broom head is still clearly ahead of your sliding foot and your shoulders are
square. The broom should be resting on the ice with minimal pressure. (If one of the
sweepers kicked it, your delivery would still be sound)
7. The Release (Curl)
Your arm should still be slightly flexed and the handle still cocked as you slide through
the house. They both should remain this way until just a few feet from the intended
release point which, depending on how much power is being generated by the
delivery, should be somewhere between the top of the house and a foot from the hog
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All of the rock's rotation is put on the rock within a four to five foot area by shifting the
handle from the cocked position to the twelve o'clock position.
When you are four or five feet from the release point, begin rotating your rock and
straightening your arm. The flexed arm allows you to throw the rock instead of just
letting it go. Rotate the rock so that your hand finishes in the hand shake position. In
order to keep the rock on the line of delivery, the rock must be rotated over its center
point. The pressure that turns the rock comes from only two fingers and the thumb,
one finger on each side of the center point. For an in-turn, the thumb moving to the
right and ring finger moving to left, counter to each other. Each pressure point is the
same distance from the center axis of the rock. For the outturn, the index finger and
ring finger apply the necessary pressure. For consistency and predictability, the rock
should rotate approximately 2-2 1/2 times during the length of the shot.
Any lateral movement of the rock while putting on the turn will result in the rock
moving off the line of delivery. This is where many shots are missed.
Extend the arm through the skip's broom. Never raise the arm at release. This will
interrupt the fluid motion of the release.
9.The Follow-Through
The follow through is also a key component of the delivery. It is important to stay in the
sliding position for several seconds after letting go of the rock. This will prevent you
from "popping up" too early and will also give you a good look at the shot as it travels
down the ice. This is valuable in the assessment process that each player should go
through immediately following the shot. Avoid the temptation to follow directly behind
the shot. This is a team sport and practically speaking your team has control of your
rock now.
Watch the rock as it travels down the ice. This will not allow you to see the rock's
overall path for future reference. The farther away you are the better your overall view
of the entire shot. The skip is fully prepared to handle the sweep calls.
Do not rest your bare hand on the ice for longer than an instant. Your body temperature
will melt and damage the ice in a matter of seconds. Also, never rest your knee on the
ice for longer than a few seconds. Even with pants on, your body temperature will melt
and damage the ice.
Post-Shot Assessment
During the assessment of each rock, determine if you hit the broom with the proper
weight. If it was a good shot, try and remember what it felt like so you can do it again.
Weight Window
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The responsibility of the person throwing the rock is to throw the proper weight and
hit the broom. Because sweeping can add 8-10 feet of distance to a rock, the thrower
only has to hit the "weight window". Depending on the quality of your sweeping, the
window is approximately ten feet deep, meaning that if a rock thrown ten feet short of
the intended stopping point, the sweepers can increase the distance. So, any rock
thrown inside the ten-foot weight window is thrown correctly. It is then up to the
sweepers to complete the shot. If a rock is thrown beyond the intended stopping point,
there is nothing the sweepers can do to help. In other words, it's better to be a little light
than a little heavy.
Determining proper weight is difficult to teach because it relies mostly on the body's
sensation of position and movement. This kinesthetic sense is enhanced by the fluidity
of the delivery.
Adjusting the delivery for different weights.
One of the most commonly asked questions from beginning curlers is "how do adjust
the delivery for different weights". Several different weights are required to throw the
different shots in curling. In addition, ice conditions are different from club to club and
within the club, the conditions are constantly changing. From guards to peels plus, the
All-Body method can accommodate. The answer is that all power generators of the
delivery need to get stronger for stronger shots. Specifically, the weight shift, body drop
(leg delay) and to a certain degree, leg drive.
For example, on heavier shots and heavier ice, the weight shift may change from hips
being over the hack to hips being completely behind the hack. Body-Drop may change
from a slight delay to a long delay. Leg drive may change from almost nothing to a full
push explosion.
Extra power is also need with small-framed, petite curlers. The body weight/rock weight
ratio changes significantly from 100Ib frame to a 225Ib frame. The smaller framed curler
must use the extra power to throw all shots.
Harnessing the power.
One the most commonly asked questions regarding any delivery is how to adjust
weight for different shots. Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple one. Changing
weight first depends on the body's ability to generate power and the ice conditions.
Each person has a varying degree of athleticism. This is a big factor when it comes
to describing how to adjust weight. Early thinking on the no-lift delivery is centered
on leg drive. More weight - more leg drive. Less weight - less leg drive. All curlers
should generate enough power to slide through the hog line (remember, you
have to let go before it).
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Now that we understand about the other power generators, we must adjust them all
when adjusting weight. The following matrix is directional only. Each curler may differ.
Use it as a base point and modify if necessary. The first matrix describes how the power
generators may work throwing different shots on different ice conditions.
Weight Shift
Leg Delay
Leg Drive
Draw on 23-second (hog to tee) ice.
Large Frame
Small Frame
Hips over hack
Hips behind hack
Hips behind hack
Takeout on 23-second ice.
Large Frame
Hips behind
Small Frame
Hips well behind hack
Hips well behind hack
As you can see, the delivery can compensate for different ice conditions. Use
these to start and modify as needed.
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Delivery by CurlTech
Place the ball of your foot on the back of the Hack
Squat with the weight on the Hack foot
Sliding foot heel to toe.
Place the broom head in front of the sliding foot.
Cock the handle.
Relax the arms and shoulders.
Forward Press
1. Move the rock slightly forward.
Drawback & Step
1. Draw the Rock back.
2. Simultaneously raise the hips and step back with the sliding foot.
Body Drop
1. Start Moving Forward.
2. Delay the sliding foot.
3. “Catch the body as it drops into the sliding position.
1. Position the sliding foot with the heel on the line of the delivery.
1. Slowly extend the arm and rotate the rock.
Follow Through
1. The follow-through is also a key component of the delivery. It is important to stay
in the sliding position for several seconds after letting go of the rock. This will
prevent you from "popping up" too early and will also give you a good look at the
shot as it travels down the ice. This is valuable in the assessment process that
each player should go through immediately following the shot. To improve
balance and build leg strength, hold the balanced delivery position until you stop.
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Never rest your hand on your sliding foot. This will create a balance dependency
in the follow-through and reduce overall balance consistency. Avoid the
temptation to follow directly behind the shot. This is a team sport and the other
players on your team have control of your rock. After release, consider this the
"hand-off" point to your sweepers and skip. Watch the rock as it travels down the
ice. This will allow you to see the rock's overall path for future reference. The
farther away you are the better your overall view of the entire shot. The skip and
sweepers are usually prepared to handle the sweep calls.
Types of Shots
Essentially, there are only two types of curling shots, the draw and the takeout. There
are many variations of these two shots, however.
Draws are shots that are only thrown hard enough only to reach the field of play at the
other end. Takeouts are designed to remove rocks from play.
Below is a list of possible draw shots:
Free Guard Zone
Corner guard
Come around
Tap back
Corner freeze
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a rock that comes to rest in front of
another rock as protection
a guard that comes to rest on the
centerline just a few inches from the
a draw short of the house and off to the
any draw shot that curls around another
a heavier weight draw designed to push
another rock back but not out of the
a draw that comes to rest touching
another rock
a draw that comes to rest on the edge of
another rock
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Below is a list of possible takeout shots:
Hack Weight
Hit & Roll
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a takeout thrown with enough weight to
firmly remove another rock (a normal
takeout undisturbed should hit the back
wall and bounce back about a foot)
a takeout thrown with enough weight to
gently remove another rock (a hack
weight takeout undisturbed should come
to rest at the back wall)
a takeout thrown with very hard weight to
remove rocks from play (undisturbed peel
weight shots should hit the back wall and
bounce back several feet)
a takeout that, after making contact with
another rock, rolls to a designated place
a takeout thrown to strike another rock at
an angle and remove it sideways
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The Skip's Signals and How to Interpret Them
All shots called by the skip have an associated hand or arm signal. Signals were
developed due to the length of the ice (the option is to scream to other players at the
other end). Also, many curling clubs are so loud that talking is not possible.
Skip's signal can vary dramatically. Listed below are the most common signals used.
There are two basic types:
1. Signals to determine the shot
• Tapping the ice with the broom (intended resting point)
• Right arm extended (in turn for right handers)
• Left arm extended (out turn for right handers)
• Tapping the rock with the broom (intended target)
2. Signals to determine the weight
Tapping the hack with broom (intended weight)
The Anatomy of a Curling Shot
Individuals do not make shots, teams do. Curling is one of the few sports where the
whole team directly participates in every shot.
Described below is a sequence of events for most curling shots. It may seem like a lot
of things are happening at once, but it all flows together. When a team is functioning
properly, all of these things should happen on every shot.
Note: It takes many months of practice as a team for all of these things to
happen perfectly. Don't expect your league team to be able to execute in this
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The Draw
The Skip decides on the shot to be called.
He/She communicates the shot to the other team members.
He/She surveys the ice conditions and places the broom for aim.
He/She communicates the weight required for the shot.
At the other end, with sweepers in place and ready, the thrower confirms with
the sweepers the shot and the weight required.
The Shooter focuses on the shot, channels energy forward, and throws the rock
at the broom with the desired weight.
The skip gives the sweepers an initial indication of the relative line.
The sweepers return with an initial indication of actual weight.
If the weight is too light, the sweepers begin to sweep. *Varies with takeout
The skip continues to communicate the line and may call sweeping if the line is
The rock comes to rest; the skip and sweepers were I communication the entire
Notice that regardless of the shot called, the shooter only has two responsibilities, hit
the broom, and throw the weight. It is uncommon for the shooter to call for sweeping.
The shooter may inform the sweepers if he/she feels that the shot was “light’ or
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Basic Strategy
This chapter will provide the new and experienced curler with an outline for strategic
decision-making. Each player, team, game situation and ice conditions are different
so we'll concentrates on the decision-making process and not on individual shot
Basic Strategy
Someone once said that curling is chess on ice. This is true to some degree
because, in addition to throwing and making shots, the skip must determine the
course of action to be taken during the game, what shots to call and when to call
them. This is known as game strategy or "calling the game."
Strategy has two separate components:
1. Overall strategic game approach
2. Shot-by-Shot Tactics (shot calling)
The term "strategy" is often used to describe both of these components, but we
want to concentrate on the differences between them.
Game Strategy
The term strategy best refers to the overall course of action taken by any team during
the game. This "game plan" is determined before the game starts and is based on
known variables like your team's general skill level, the opponent's general strengths
and weaknesses, general ice conditions, etc. Even the format of the competition can
impact the game strategy. Strategy can change, and sometimes should, during a game.
For the most part, the game strategy is determined before the game and all shots
called during the game are in support of the overall strategy.
Some examples of overall game strategy are:
Play very aggressive shots and force the opponent to make mistakes.
Play most shots in the house because you know you can out play the opponent
(you think the opponent will simply make more open mistakes)
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Force the opponent to play draws around guards (opponent may not have draw
Play any shot, as long as it’s in play
In the early ends play conservatively then play aggressively in the middle and
late ends (you may think the opponent will tire faster than you)
Play conservatively because all we need to do is make the final four
Once the game strategy has been determined, the skip must support it by thinking
about how each end will be played. In each end, the skip then must determine what
shots to call and when to call them. Shot calling represents the tactical support of the
larger strategy.
There is no such thing as textbook strategy. There are guidelines, however, that
apply in many cases.
The first and most important component to strategy is execution. Without proper
execution of shots and sweeping, no strategy will be effective. The best strategy is the
one that plays to your team's strengths and takes advantage of the opponent's
weaknesses. Any type of strategy or tactics is appropriate if it's effective.
"Aggressive" vs. "Conservative" Game Strategy
The term aggressive refers to calling and executing shots that, when executed
properly, have the highest potential for forcing the opponent's mistake (or inability to
score). After all, games are won by preventing the opponent from scoring. Aggressive
shots usually include different types of draw shots like "come arounds," freezes, tap
backs, etc. In curling, as in other sports, this strategy has a high degree of risk and a
high potential pay-off. For example, a perfect freeze almost eliminates the opponent's
ability to remove the rock, increasing the chances to score more than one. On the other
hand, poorly executed freeze may leave a rock wide open for a hit and roll, resulting in
the opposition counting or scoring two.
Teams who want to keep the game free of clutter use a conservative strategy. The
shots most likely played in a conservative game would be mostly take-outs or shots
thrown into the rings without cover. Teams playing a conservative game throw so many
takeouts that some people believe the game has become boring to watch. Because of
this, the World Curling Federation adopted a rule that would force teams to play more
aggressive games. This rule is called the "Free Guard Zone" rule. This rule was
adopted for spectators. You won't find many people watching your league games, but
the National and World Championships enjoy a sizable crowd both live and on
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The "Free Guard Zone" Rule
The rule reads like this.
"No rock lying in the free guard zone can be removed from play by the opposition until
the first four rocks of the end have come to rest. The free guard zone shall be the area
between the hog line and the tee line, excluding the house."
Note: The rule states that no rock can be removed by the opposition. This means
that you can remove your own rock from the free guard zone.
Because rocks thrown into the free guard zone cannot be initially removed, teams are
forced to play with one or more rocks in front of the house. This creates a certain
degree of excitement with more aggressive shots being played.
All games leading to the world championships use this rule. However, not all
leagues or bonspiels use it.
Shot-By-Shot Strategy Guidelines
There are many factors that determine what shot to throw. Because of the infinite
number of possible options, no strategy plan is absolute. Most of the time, shot calling
is determined based on who has last rock. With last rock advantage, the idea is to
score, usually more than one rock. If more than one rock cannot be scored, many
teams will decide to blank the end, retain the hammer, and try again next end. Without
last rock, the idea is generally to steal one or more.
Generally, with last rock, try to keep the center of the sheet open. Since you have the
last rock, you will need to have access to the center of the house for the last shot (the
four foot). By not keeping the center open, you will run the risk of having the center of
the house blocked for your last shot. Having last rock is not an advantage if you can't
score with it.
Without last rock, most teams try to steal one or more rocks. To do this, try to throw
rocks short of the house, preferably in the center of the sheet. With these rocks in
place, a rock can be drawn behind, covered. This represents the best chance to not
only prevent the opponent from scoring but to steal the end.
Other Considerations When Determining Shots Called
End - The strategy in the late ends of a game may differ from the strategy earlier in the
Score - The score of the game may determine strategy. A sizable lead will look
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different than trying to catch up.
Ice - Ice that does not curl much may warrant a different strategy than ice that curls a
lot. The same is true with fast ice and slow ice.
Skill - You and your opponent's technical ability should drive many of your strategic and
tactical decisions.
Some examples of how the "End" will determine shot calling
Considering your game strategy, you may want to play more conservative shots early
in the game. This will allow you and your team to become acclimated to the
conditions, allow you to read the ice and to assess the opponent's strengths and
weaknesses. This may also keep the game close by not allowing either team to score
a big end.
Later in game (the last three ends) is the time to stay steady. Many games are won
and lost in the last three ends. Teams must concentrate on a good balance between
aggressive shots and good execution. Now is the time to protect your lead or to
make a move if you're behind.
Some examples of how the "Score" will determine shot calling
Again, based on your game strategy, the score will help determine the shots called. For
example, in a close game (difference of one or two rocks) the shots called should not
stray from the game plan.
If your team is down by a considerable margin, the game strategy should change to a
more aggressive one. This is the time to call freezes, center or corner guards, close
come-arounds, etc. If the opponent puts a rock in the house, you may want to ignore it
and put up a corner guard (you can remove the shot rock later).
Another approach is the freeze. The best freeze situation is when the opponent's rock
is behind the tee line. This is a low risk freeze if you have the hammer because the
button is still open for you last draw. Even if the rocks are in front of the tee, try
freezing to them. This will make it difficult for the opponent to remove them. The old
phrase "live and die by the sword" certainly applies here. Aggressive shots can
backfire if not executed properly and you may end up shaking hands earlier than
anticipated. Aggressive shots will yield a higher return (more rocks). The idea being,
if you don't score more than one the game may be over.
If you are leading by a considerable margin, consider changing the strategy to keep
things open. This, if executed properly will limit the opponent's ability to get back into
the game. This is risky because any dramatic change in strategy must be accompanied
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by solid execution or it will backfire. A good example is the team trying to keep things
clear that cannot make a peel therefore leaving rocks in front of the house without any
The throw-through is an important strategy late in the game with a sizable lead. The
theory being the throw-through is that if there are no rocks in play, there is nothing for
the opponent to draw around or freeze against. Usually, teams wait until the last few
ends to throw rocks through. The throw-through being executed in the middle ends is a
strong statement that you believe the opponent can't catch you. This is embarrassing if
they do.
Some examples of how the "Ice" will determine shot calling
This refers to ice conditions. Certain ice conditions favor certain shots. For example,
straight ice (less than two feet on a draw) does not favor the come around. In many
cases a come around attempt on straight ice will result in a rock that is wide open for
the opponent to hit and roll. In this case, the “promote” is a better call. The “promote”
is easier to throw on straight ice because it removes the variable of a large curl.
Sweeping is also very effective in keeping a straight rock even straighter.
On the other hand, ice that curls a lot (more than 2 feet on a draw) favors the come
around and not the “promote”.
In some cases, the ice will curl on one side and run straight on the other. If
available, always choose the straight side for hits and the curl side for draws.
Another ice condition that drives shot calling is the speed of the ice. Fast ice (23
seconds or higher) will favor the aggressive shots like the freeze or the tap back.
Sweeping is usually more effective on faster ice therefore players can be sweep a
rock to a more precise location. Slow ice (22 or less) does not favor aggressive shots
but favors the conservative approach of heavier hits or hits and rolls.
Remember, ice conditions change during the game. The pebble may be heavy to start
then as it begins to breakdown the ice gets faster. If the pebble breaks down too
much, the ice may slow down again. This is the best reason to time shots, which is to
determine relative Change in ice conditions.
Some examples of how the "Skill" will determine shot calling
This refers the skill of you own team as well as the skill of your opponent. Skill is
broken up into two categories.
1. The ability to hit the broom on line
2. The ability to throw the proper weight
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You should already know the basic skill level of your teammates. Common sense
applies here. Don't call delicate draws for someone who can't even hit the house. You
are usually better off with a rock in play than with a rock in the garage. On the other
hand, heavy hits are not a good idea for someone who can't throw more than draw
weight. Just as you avoid these weight-based situations with your own team, try to
exploit them from your opponent. Try to force the opponent to a draw and so forth.
When it comes to hitting the broom and line, avoid hits with the person who can't hit
the broom. The draw in play may a better option.
Now is a good time to watch the releases of your opponent. Many curlers (even the
advanced players) throw rocks off line during the release. Try to spot patterns with your
opponent. If your opponent has the tendency to toss out the out turn, then force that
person to throw that turn. Sometimes a partially covered rock is better than a rock fully
covered because it tempts your opponent to go after it.
Free Guard Zone Strategy Guidelines
The Free Guard Zone is the area between the tee line and the hog line, excluding the
house. See the rules of play for details. The states that no opponent's rock can be
removed from play until four rocks have come to rest. Generally, there are three
tactical approaches to playing with the Free Guard Zone Rule in place:
1. Be the first team to the four-foot by drawing around a center guard.
2. Begin clearing rocks from play once four rocks have come to rest.
3. Ignore the center guards and draw to the sides
Unlike regular tactical guidelines, deciding when to use the above guidelines
depends more on the end and the score than who has last rock.
Option #1
Early in the game or in a game where the score is close, even with last rock
advantage, many teams decide to draw behind a rock in front of the house, after all,
your options are limited because you cannot remove the front rock from play. There is
risk however, when deciding to play in the house. The opponent uses front rocks to
hide behind in order to steal the end. If the hammer team does not draw the four-foot,
the opponent will.
Option #2
The other option is to wait a few shots then begin clearing the front rocks in order to
expose the four foot. Usually, by the time you're allowed to remove rocks, there are
multiple rocks in play. Teams that have players, the second in particular, who can
throw heavy weight are more likely to be successful with this option. The key to this
approach is the heavy weight take out. The weight needs to be heavy enough to move
(not necessarily remove) multiple rocks.
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Option 3#
The last option is used primarily with weaker teams.
Obviously there are a lot of variable that come into play with game strategy and shot
calling. As you see more and more situations, you'll begin develop a sense of what
works and what doesn't. Never criticize anyone's strategy until you have all the
information. It is very difficult to understand all strategy calls from behind the glass.
What seems to be an obvious strategy blunder may turn out to be a game saver or a
brilliant assessment of conditions. It's better to ask why the shot was called than to
assume the call was bad to begin with.
Practice Ideas
Like many sports, practicing the curling delivery is an important part of developing the
needed consistency required to make shots on a regular basis. The curling delivery is
very complex and it is not something most of us do very often.
Simply throwing proper practice rocks at the club will train your body to recognize a
proper delivery and develop some muscle memory. Throwing practice rocks can also
be a trap where bad habits can be reinforced. This chapter describes some specific
practice techniques that will help you develop your skills.
There are two types of practice sessions;
1. Practice to make your team better
2. Practice to make your individual contribution to a team better
If you play on a regular team, the best practices are the ones with the entire team
If most of your curling is in leagues (on several different teams), then you may want to
concentrate on these practice drills. First, find someone to practice with. Try and find
someone who can reasonably assess your skills and provide feedback to you.
Practicing alone can only develop your balance and give a good sense of the overall
delivery. The mistake many people make is trying to practice hitting the broom alone. It
is virtually impossible for you to determine precise accuracy and line of delivery from
the throwing position. The only way to practice accuracy and line of delivery is to throw
at a broom held by a person who can provide you feedback.
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Drill #1
You can do this one alone. Since the critical component to a good delivery is balance,
this drill is invaluable. Begin by taking a few practice slides followed by throwing a few
stones. This will loosen up the body for the balance drill. Now, go back to sliding
without the rock but this time raise the broom off the ice as you finish sliding. As you
repeat the sliding drill, begin raising the broom off the ice earlier and earlier until you
can slide without the use of the broom at all.
Finish the drill by throwing a few stones without leaning on the broom.
Drill #2
The Cup Drill
Place two cups about 2 feet apart near the hog line. Place a third cup about three
feet beyond the first two, centered between them. Practice your delivery by hitting
the center back cup with the stone while sliding between the first two cups. (Your
broom or delivery aide should slide outside of the cups.) This is a great practice drill
because you begin to feel and see what it’s like to hit the broom.
Fitness and strength are not required for curling. You've probably already noticed that
curlers come in all shapes and sizes. Overall fitness will, however, help your curling
game. We once had the opportunity to discuss curling with the US Olympic Training
Specialist at the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs. He mentioned some
basic guidelines for curling and fitness. Even if you don't plan on curling in the
Olympics, these guidelines should help. The fitness specialist mentioned two main
fitness components:
• General fitness
• Specific fitness
Being generally fit refers to having a healthy heart, not carrying too much weight and
having some basic muscle tone.
Specific fitness refers to the areas of fitness that are specific to curling. Even the
specialist admits to only knowing a limited amount about curling. He mentioned the two
key components to curling fitness:
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Conditioning - Curling is an anaerobic sport. Most players (except the skip) must
sweep vigorously then calm down enough the gently delivery the rock. This requires
the heart to calm down quickly, which is associated with general conditioning.
Muscle Strength - Curlers need muscle strength to sustain the delivery position for any
length of time. The leg muscles, specifically the quadriceps carry most of the body
weight during the slide. Strong quadriceps will help with a consistent flatfooted delivery.
Lack of muscle strength in the legs is not noticeable if players are playing games on an
irregular basis. Muscle strength becomes critical if a player is playing multiple games
per day or playing many games over an extended period of time
Team Practices (Advanced)
During team practices, a combination of mechanics and team related drills should
dominate. If the entire team is present, they have the opportunity to practice actual
shots. This can be done by either setting up a particular shot and throwing it over and
over, or by playing the "perfect team".
The Designated Shot
Pick a shot that the team throws a lot. Execute the shot with full sweeping and line
calling. Agree on a standard for each shot. For example, three come-arounds in a row
or three peels in a row or ten freeze attempts. This drill allows the players to practice
a common shot when the pressure is off. This goes along way when the pressure is
The "Perfect Team"
This refers to playing an imaginary team that does not miss any shots. It begins with
the skip gathering a few opponents' rocks at the house end. After the team throws a
rock, the skip then determines what the perfect shot would be and executes it by
placing the opponent’s rock in the perfect spot. The skip must play for both teams.
This drill is very valuable because it can simulate game actual conditions without the
need for an opponent.
A word of caution when playing the perfect team - they're very good. Expect to give
up multiple points. In fact, the goal of this drill is to try and limit the perfect team to
one or two points when they have the hammer and to steal when they don't.
One-On-One, Two-On- Two, Etc.
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Playing small games breaks up the monotony of any practice. As part of a practice,
play a two end game of two-on-two (or one-on-one if you have another sheet
available). To make the game even more interesting, do not allow any takeouts. This
forces the team to concentrate on finesse shots rather than "blasting". If a player
takes a rock out by mistake, it must be replaced. Once the rocks build up, it provides
a good opportunity to practice raises.
Four in the Four
With this drill, the goal is for the team to draw the four-foot, four times in a row. Start
with the normal team setup at the beginning of an end. The lead throws a draw to the
four-foot with the skip in position and the second and vice sweeping. After the lead
throws, the second throws and so on. Continue this until you have drawn the four foot
four consecutive times. If one person misses, you must start over. The purpose of this
drill is two-fold, to see and understand each delivery for sweeping purposes, and to
simply practice drawing to the four-foot. It develops a good sense of draw weight, what
your sweepers are capable of, and good practice for the sweepers making weight
judgment calls.
This drill is harder than it sounds. If the team rule is to not move to the next drill until
four are in the four, then pressure builds up with each four-foot draw.
Enjoy this one; it's probably the only aerobic curling drill in existence.
Glossary of Terms and Curling Lingo
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A stone barely touching the 12-foot
Neither team scores in the end.
A curling tournament.
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A stone touched while in motion.
The smallest ring in the house. It is
two feet in diameter, also called the
The Canadian Curling Association
The process of throwing a stone.
A shot that comes to rest within the
An end where all eight stones are
When sixteen stones have come to
rest. Similar to an inning in baseball
A stone coming to rest touching
another stone.
The area between the hog line and the
tee line excluding the house.
The rule that states that an opponent's
rock cannot be removed from play until
four rocks have come to rest.
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A shot that comes to rest in front of
another stone for protection
The pieces of rubber you push off from
at either end of the sheet.
The last shot of the end.
A shot that comes to rest short or on
the hog line and is removed from play.
The thick black line 33 feet from the
The area within the outside circle at
either end of the sheet.
This means to sweep immediately.
A stone that rotates clockwise for a
right handed player
A stone that rotates counter clock-wise
for a riqht-handed player.
The frozen bumps on the ice that the
stones ride on.
A hard takeout designed to remove
A curling team.
The total playing area for one game.
The captain of the team.
A rock thrown with excessive spin.
Scoring a point without last rock
A shot thrown hard enough to remove
another stone from play. Also called a
The line that intersects the house at
the centerline.
The toss of the coin to determine last
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rock in the first end.
The United States Curling Association.
The main offices are in Stevens Point
World Curling Federation
World Curling Tour
There are other subtle curling terms that may be synonymous with the terms listed
above. The more time you spend curling, the more you will hear them.
Curling Lingo
"Hit the broom"
"On the broom"
"Lost its handle"
"Nice rock"
"Nice Toss"
Tee weight
Back ring weight
Draw the "lid"
Draw the "pin"
Hack weight
Normal hit
Heavy hit
"You dumped it"
"You flipped it"
"Take the rock"
"The rock picked"
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A rock thrown accurately at the aiming
Same as above.
A rock that loses its rotation.
Good shot.
Same as above.
A rock thrown hard enough to stop on
the Tee Line.
A rock thrown hard enough to stop in
the back of the house.
Draw to the button.
Same as above.
The rock hits the heavily slid area in
the house and stops quickly
A rock thrown hard enough to stop
near the hack.
A rock thrown hard enough to remove
another rock from play.
A rock thrown hard enough to forcefully
remove a rock from play.
Hitting a rock at such an angle as to
split them apart.
A rock thrown inside the line of
delivery, usually at the point of release.
A rock thrown outside the line of
delivery, usually at the point of release
Sweep closest to the rock.
The moving rock picked up a piece of
debris that altered its course.
A perfect freeze.
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A few notes about the zone system and judging weight
The ten-zone system was popularized by the Canadian Champion team of David
Nedohin and Randy Ferbey from Alberta.
Since it is the sweepers' responsibility to judge the weight of the stone, this
system simplifies the communication with the skip. When the delivering stone is
released, the sweepers will each shout out which zone they believe the rock will
reach, repeating it along the way. Good sweepers can very accurately judge their
zones, and sweep accordingly.
Sweepers can increase their accuracy at judging zones by using a stopwatch
and split-timing a delivery. Split-timing involves measuring the time a stone takes
to travel between two points during delivery. Most players will measure from the
back line to the hog line, resulting in times ranging from 3 to 4.5 seconds.
Depending on a player’s delivery, the ice conditions and how many examples
have been taken, the sweepers can very accurately reinforce their judgment
based on this time.
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