Curling Basics

The Very Basics

Curling is played within a curling rink on a playing surface ice called a ‘sheet’ with granite stones. The goal of the game is, after all 16 stones are played (8 by each team), to have a stone of your team’s closest to the center of the house, called the ‘tee’ (see rink below). This is accomplished by sending your stone to rest in scoring position by utilizing one of many shots. The team with the closest stone to the ‘tee’, inside the house, scores a point, or more if they also have the second closest stone and so on. Each round is called an ‘end’ and consists of two stones delivered by each player on each four-player team. The stones are delivered from the hack on one side of the sheet to the house on the opposite side. This consists of the player pushing off from the hack with the stone and releasing it with a spin, or ‘curl’.

The Curling Rink


The Curling Rink Explained

The playing surface played on in a game of curling is ice. The ice playing surface is called a ‘sheet’ and is within a ‘curling rink’. The ‘sheet’ is 138 feet long by approximately 14 feet wide. The main features of the sheet are the ‘House’, the ‘Hack’, the ‘Hog Line’ and the ‘Tee Line’. The ‘Hack’ is where one delivers or throws the stone. The ‘Hog Line’ is the line that one must release the stone before during delivery of the stone, and the line at the other end of the ice that ones stone must pass to be considered in play. The scoring area – the ‘House’ – consists of three concentric rings, 4, 8, and 12 feet in diameter The small circle at the center of the house is called the button, and the center of the button is the tee. The distinct areas are marked underneath the ice surface by using either paint or ribbon.

The Curling Stone

The curling stone originated in Scotland from large chunks of rock bowled across the ice, none having any particular size or shape. They evolved into what are now matched sets of fairly uniformly made stones. They are all made of pure granite, and they are amazingly hard. The best stones come from a single granite mine on an island off the coast of Scotland. Shipping is quite expensive due to weight (16 stones in a set at 42 pounds apiece, not including packaging), and manufacturing is expensive because of the toughness of the material, which is ground with diamonds. Hence, the sets of curling stones are owned by the club and not by individuals.

The stone is concave on both the upper and lower surfaces. On some stones, the degree of concavity is different on both sides to allow for reversing the stone for ‘faster’ or ‘slower’ ice. A handle, usually on a circular plastic disc, is bolted onto the stone through a channel running through the middle of the stone to a bolt on the other end. The bottom of a curling stone, which is concave is the actual running surface of the stone. This allows the stone to go farther, more accurately, and pick up more ‘curl’ than would be possible on a flat surface.

There is a lighter-colored band in a ribbon around the curling stone. This is the ‘striking surface’. In manufacturing, the entire stone is very highly polished. This surface is dulled down for the purpose of improving collisions with other stones, both so that there will be a larger contact patch in the collision and so that the stones will not chip.

The Ice

The pebbled ice under a stoneA large element of the game not mentioned so far is the ‘curl’ of the stone. As you can see in the above diagrams, the stone is not coming in on a perfectly straight path. This is due to the curl put on the stone by the curler. As the stone is delivered, Good Curl from Wesa slight spin is put on it, acting like a very, very slow curveball.

The pebble is what helps the stone pick up the lateral motion. As is seen here, the ice is sprinkled before the game with a ‘pebbler’, which creates a smooth hilly effect on the ice, much like little pebbles. Without the pebble, the stone would not be able to travel as far. Therefore, the small traveling surface of the stone itself combined with the small contact area of the ice (created by the pebble) allows the rock to travel further than on flat smooth ice. Sweeping also aids in increasing the travel distance of the stone.

The Teams

Mark "The Skip"At the start of game every team shall be composed of four players. Each delivers two stones, in this order:

  1. Lead
  2. Second
  3. Third or vice skip
  4. Skip

The skip is responsible for the strategy, and call the shots for all the players. She/he stands in the house at the end opposite to the delivering end (where curlers throw their shots from) and directs the play.  When it is her/his turn to deliver, the third (vice-skip) takes over skipping duties.

The two teams competing against each other take turns delivering until all 16 stones have been thrown. The lead and the second are responsible for sweeping stones delivered by their teammates, and they can either sweep on opposite sides or same side of the stone.  The third takes over one of the sweeping positions when the lead or second is delivering his/her stones.

Site powered by Big Red Ant