How To Play Curling

Elements of a Curling Game

A curling game can be broken down into three general categories. They are:

  1. Throwing Stones
  2. Sweeping Stones
  3. Basic Strategy

Throwing Stones

When throwing a curling stone, there are a few steps one will follow. The thrower must get information about the shot from the skip. The skip will give the thrower four pieces of information. They are the:

  1. Stone's desired location
  2. Stone's required weight
  3. Line to aim at
  4. Handle to apply to the stone

The skip will tap their broom on the ice to communicate the stone's desired position. Not only does this describe the intended location of the stone, but it also conveys the weight (speed) required to execute the shot.

Additionally, the skip may signal in other manners with their broom to communicate different types of shots. Another way the skip may communicate the weight of the shot is to tap locations on their body that indicate a specific weight.

After giving this information to the thrower, the skip will place their broom on the ice, and extend one of their arms outwards. By placing their broom down, the skip is conveying to the thrower where they should aim when delivering the stone. By extending one of their arms outwards, the skip is telling the thrower which handle (rotation) is to be applied as the stone is released.

Sweeping Stones

When sweeping a curling stone, it is also essential to know the same things as the thrower. Therefore, pay attention to your skip, and the information that they are communicating to the thrower. As the sweeper, you are close to the stone, and (over time) will be able to judge the weight of the stone. By knowing where the skip wants the stone to end up, you can communicate whether or not the stone has the required weight to reach that spot.

Some basic phrases a sweeper can communicate are:

  • "Light": the stone is traveling too slow and may not reach its desired location.
  • "Heavy": the stone is traveling too fast and may pass its desired location.
  • "Weight is good": the stone is traveling at the right speed to stop at its desired location.

Additionally, you and your fellow sweeper will need to decide who is sweeping closer to the stone - this is known as "taking the stone."

Basic Strategy

Strategy with the Hammer

If a team has the hammer, their goal is to leave an opportunity for themselves to score two or more points. Recall that the hammer is the last shot of the end, and is considered to be advantageous. Typically, teams will keep the middle of the sheet open and play more towards the outer portions of the sheet. At the beginning of the end, this involves throwing corner guards and draws around those corner guards. If the first two stones stop in their desired location, a team should be able to score two points, and potentially more if their opponent fails to execute a shot properly.

Strategy without the Hammer

If a team doesn't have the hammer, their goal is to force their opponent to score only one point. Thus, teams will try to place several stones in the middle of the sheet and limit their opponent's access to the button. Typically, teams throw center guards that will lie along the centerline and draws buried behind the guards. The dr If an opponent fails to make a shot, there is a chance that the team without the hammer could steal the end.


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