Curling History and General Information

about-curlingTHE ICE: A sheet of curling ice is dimensioned at 138 ft x 14 ft. Unlike hockey ice, the curling surface is carefully groomed by frequent shaving to keep it perfectly level. Before each game, a light spray of water droplets is applied to the surface and immediately freezes in place as a fine pebble. It is on this pebble that curling stones ride easily and react predictably to a player’s delivery.

CURLING STONES: Curling stones are made from a shock-absorbing granite. Each piece of granite is carefully machined and balanced, and a goose-neck handle is added for the player’s convenience. The result is a standard 42 to 44 pound rock, with a diameter of one foot, and a height of 4.5 inches, not including the handle.

SWEEPING: Sweeping in front of a running stone accomplishes several things. First, it cleans the path of any debris that may be on the ice that could otherwise alter the stones travel. Secondly, by applying pressure to the broom while sweeping in front of the stone, the ice is slightly warmed, creating less friction between the ice and the stone – this can help the stone travel further than it would have, and it can also affect the curl of the stone

THE TEAM: A curling team consists of four players: the first player of the group is called the Lead, the second player is appropriately known as the Second, and the third is called (you guessed it) the Third, or the Vice-Skip. The Fourth, known as the Skip, is the captain of the team. He / she directs the strategy of the game and calls the shots. Though the order that stones are delivered typically follows this sequence, there are teams that play with the Skip throwing in a different position.


12-Foot: The 12-foot diameter circle outermost in the house. A stone completely outside this circle cannot score

4-Foot: The 4-foot diameter circle in the house. It surrounds the centre area called the button. It is used as a visual aid only – there is no extra score for placing a stone within it.

8-Foot: The 8-foot diameter circle in the house. It is used as a visual aid only – there is no extra score for placing a stone within it. The 8-foot circle is generally not actually painted – it appears as the empty space between the 12-foot and 4-foot rings.

Bonspiel: Scots for league match, this is the term used for a curling tournament.

Broom: An implement with which players sweep the ice to make a stone travel farther and curl less. Though brushes have completely replaced brooms, the traditional name remains.

Button: The center (bullseye) of the house.

Calling the Shot: When the skip holds the broom where he/she wants the person delivering the stones to aim. When the skip is delivering, the third calls the shot.

Clean: To brush the ice lightly in front of a moving rock to remove any debris and ensure a correct line; less vigorous than a sweep

Curling: A sport played on ice which involves sliding granite stones to the center of the house.

Guard: A rock that is placed in front of another rock to protect it from being knocked out by the other team, or placed with the intent to later curl another rock around it and thus be protected. Guards are typically placed between the hog line and the very front of the house

Gripper: A rubber or other material attached to a curling shoe to improve traction on the ice

Hack: Similar to a starting block in track and field, the foothold device where the person who throws the rock pushes off for delivery

Hard!: Command (along with “hurry”) shouted by the skip to tell the sweepers to sweep harder and faster.

House: The three concentric circles where points are scored

pebbled-ice-surfacePebble: Small droplets of water intentionally sprayed on the ice that cause irregularities on the surface. Also a verb; the action of depositing water droplets on the ice. e.g. to pebble the ice between games.

Rock: The device thrown by curlers during the game. It is made of granite and has a standard weight of 19.6 kg (44 lb). Also called a stone

Slider: A piece of Teflon or similar material attached to a curling shoe that allows the player to slide along the ice.

Spiel: Scots for match, game or competition, this is the term used for a curling competition between members of the same club or community, for example parish spiel. Also used as an abbreviation for Bonspiel.

Sweep: To brush the ice in front of a moving stone, which causes it to travel farther and curl less.