Before playing a game of curling, the smooth ice is textured with small water droplets called pebble. This creates very tiny air pockets on the ice which allows the stones to glide freely across the ice. As previously mentioned, stones are released with a given handle, or rotation. This rotation allows the path of the stone to bend, or curl. Thus, the name of the sport is derived from a term used to describe the act of the stone travelling along a curved path.
Here is our missing piece to the puzzle. Applying a handle to the stone will allow it to curl in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. As we learned in Curling Pre-Delivery, the skip will hold out one of their hands to indicate which way the curling stone needs to curl.
The basics of applying a handle is that you will either start the handle at ten o'clock position or two o'clock position, depending on which way the stone needs to curl. (We will learn how to apply both handles in the next two sections of this tutorial.) As you gently release your stone, begin to rotate your hand to the 12 o'clock position. Regardless of your starting position, you will always release once your hand reaches the 12 o'clock position.
IMPORTANT: A curling stone should only complete three to four full revolutions as it travels down the ice. This means that you do not need to spin the stone when you release it. Just as you gently release the stone, gently apply the necessary handle to it.
For a clockwise rotation, you will start your stone handle at the ten o'clock position. To double check that your handle is in the correct position, you can always think that the handle needs to point towards the skip's hand. Now, just as we learned in the previous section, apply a gentle rotation to 12 o'clock as you release the stone.
For an anti-clockwise rotation, you will start your stone handle at the two o'clock position. To double check that your handle is in the correct position, you can always think that the handle needs to point towards the skip's hand. Now, just as we learned earlier, apply a gentle rotation to 12 o'clock as you release the stone.
If you have watched curling before, you may have heard players use the phrases "in-turn" or "out-turn". These phrases both relate to the handle applied to the stone. However, the in-turn and out-turn handles are different for lefty and righty curlers. Skips typically use the hand signals we just learned about because they convey the same message to the thrower, regardless of whether they throw lefty or righty.
An in-turn handle involves the inside of the thrower's hand facing the skip, hence the term in-turn. For a righty, this is an anti-clockwise rotation. However, for a lefty, this is a clockwise rotation.
An out-turn handle involves the outside of the thrower's hand facing the skip, hence the term out-turn. For a righty, this is a clockwise rotation. However, for a lefty, this is an anti-clockwise rotation.