Basics of Curling

Basics of Curling

Two four-person rinks (teams) compete, with each rink throwing (sliding) 8 rocks per “end” of play. Teams alternate turns, and each player throws (slides) two stones. Each end starts with the leads (first players) alternating throws, followed by the seconds, then the thirds (more commonly known as vice-skips) and finally the skips, who throw last, plot strategy, and study how the rocks move on the ice.

Judicious sweeping in front of the moving stones can affect both the distance traveled, and the amount of curling a stone does on it’s way down the sheet of ice.

Scoring is simple. The team receives one point for each of their rocks that are within the house and are closer to the center than any of the opposition’s stones. The team that scores throws first in the next end.

A game is typically 8 ends (10 ends in competitions) and last about 2 hours. The ice sheet is 15 feet wide and 138 feet long from hack to hack (rubber footrests where the curling delivery begins). The houses at each end are 12 feet in diameter, with rings of 8 feet, 4 feet and one foot (the ‘button’) painted into the ice. At the center of the house is the tee. The stones weigh 42 pounds, and it’s also 42 yards from hack to tee. More curling terms are listed in our glossary. Detailed rules are available at the World Curling Federation website. Information on the fundamentals of play are available at the United States Curling Association website.

At the completion of each end, the thirds determine the score and using tags with the end number marked on them, hang the score up on the scoreboard. The score is read from the numbers across the center row of the scoreboard. The tags above and below the score represent the ends won.

In the example below, the hanging tags in the red and yellow rows indicate who scored and in which end. Yellow scored one point in the first end. Red scored three points in the second end (hang tag #2 for the secnd end is over the number three), Yellow one in the third (remember they already had one from the first end) and stole two in the fourth (It is called stealing a point when the other team has last rock). The score after four ends is 4-3 in favor of yellow. A longer explanation of scoring, more detailed, and using a slightly different example, is on our scoreboard101 page.

There is an alternate method of scoring, called Skins.

Dimensions of the playing sheet