How To Throw A Curling Stone
Before a curler pushes out from the hack and delivers a stone, they must know four pieces of information:
- The stone's desired location
- Where to aim to deliver the stone
- The necessary handle (or rotation) that the stone needs to curl
- How hard to push out of the hack
In this chapter, we will learn about how the thrower receives this information, why this information is important, and how it is applied to delivering a curling stone.
As the thrower is crouched in the hack, waiting to deliver the stone, they will receive some information from the skip. First, the skip will point to a location on the ice with their broom. This is the stone's desired location. From this, the thrower will also determine how hard to push off from the hack to deliver the stone.
Just by the skip pointing to the stone's desired location, we have already gained two pieces of information that we need to know before delivering the stone.
Next, the skip will place their broom on the ice to give the thrower a place to aim. This is called the "line". Typically, the thrower imagines that an invisible line is connecting their stone with the skip's broom.
Lastly, the skip will extend one of their hands outwards, and hold the broom with the other. By holding their hand out, they are telling the thrower which way the stone needs to curl.
Now that we have received three pieces of information from our skip, and figured out how hard to push out of the hack (our fourth piece of information), we are ready to deliver our stone. Move to the next chapter to learn how to deliver the curling stone!
The Stone Delivery
Now that we have learned about the information we need to deliver the curling stone, we are now ready to deliver it. Pretend that you have received all of the information from your skip, and are ready to step into the hack. You have your slider and stabilizer in your hands, and the stone is in front of the hack.
Stepping in the Hack
There are two footholds in the hack. You now need to figure out which foothold to step into.
- If you are going to hold the stone with your right hand, you will push out of the hack with your right foot, but step in the left foothold.
- If you are going to hold the stone with your left hand, you will push out of the hack with your left foot, but step in the right foothold.
Crouching in the Hack
Now that you have figured out which foot will be placed in the hack, it is time to crouch down. Assume a normal crouching position, with the foot you will be pushing off with in correct foothold.
From now on, we will refer to your foot in the hack as your "hack foot" or "trailing foot". We will refer your foot not in the hack as your "sliding foot".
Now that you have assumed a crouching position, place the slider - teflon side down - under your sliding foot. Place your stabilizer on the ice, and make sure that the "T" is facing forward. If you are using a broom, make sure that the pad is not touching the ice. Align the stone in front of your hack foot. This will ensure that you release the stone towards the skip’s broom.
Now that you are setup in the hack, it is time to make a few quick preparations before you begin your delivery.
First, the skip has told you which way the curling stone needs to rotate.
Next, clean off the underside of your stone. This will ensure that there are no particles or debris under the stone. After your clean it, place it in front of your hack foot.
Important: Even something as small as a piece of dust can change the trajectory of a curling stone.
Then, double check that your slider is aligned under your sliding foot, your hack foot is in the foothold, and your stabilizer has the "T" facing forward. If you are using a broom instead of a stabilizer, make sure that the pad is not making contact with the ice.
Imagine that there is an imaginary line between you and the skip’s broom. Square your shoulders so that they are perpendicular to the imaginary line. This will ensure that you are sliding towards the skip's broom when you push out of the hack.
Delivering the Curling Stone
Now that we have received all of our information and prepared to deliver the curling stone, you are ready to deliver it. The delivery process is broken down into three (3) stages:
- The forward press
- Bringing your hips up
- Pushing out of the hack
The Forward Press
If you have seen curling before, you may notice that a curler will push the stone forward a few inches before bringing their hips up and pushing out of the hack. This allows the stone to move a little bit so it does not get stuck in the ice when you push out of the hack.
To perform a forward press, all you need to do is have a firm grip on the stone and push it forward 3 to 6 inches. You are remaining in your crouched position for this part of the delivery. Do not push the stone really hard. You are only trying to move it a small distance.
Bringing Your Hips Up
After you complete your forward press, it is time to raise your hips and build up some power to push the stone.
First, begin to slide the stone back towards yourself. The back edge of the stone should nearly touch the hack. In addition to sliding the stone back, move your sliding foot so that the front of it is in line with the back of your hack foot. Move the stabilizer or broom backwards along with your sliding foot, but not as far back as your sliding foot.
Along with moving the stone, sliding foot, and broom backwards, begin to raise your hips up. Think of this as if you are trying to stand up, but you must continue to hold the stone and stabilizer.
Now that you are in this position, you are ready to push out from the hack and deliver your curling stone.
Pushing Out of the Hack
Now that you have raised your hips and moved your stone, sliding foot, and stabilizer back, you are ready to push out of the hack.
All you need to do is give a hard push with your hack foot. As you push with your hack foot, begin to move the stone, sliding foot, and stabilizer forward too. Now that you are beginning to move forward, you will naturally begin to assume a lunging position. Make sure that your sliding foot is tucked under your chest, the stabilizer is by your side, and the stone is still in front of your body, aimed at the skip's broom. Your hack foot will remain behind you, hence the term "trailing foot".
Now that you have pushed out the hack and are in a lunging position, you will need to release the stone. Move on to learn how to release the curling stone!
Release The Stone
Now that you have pushed out of the hack and are delivering the stone, it is time to think about releasing it. There are two things we need to focus on when we release:
- Releasing the stone before the hog line
- Applying a "handle" - or rotation - to the curling stone
Releasing the Curling Stone
When is the best time to release a curling stone? Right after you push out of the hack? What about right as you approach the hog line? Well, the correct answer is once you begin to feel yourself slow down. If you release the stone too early, it will go through the house and beyond the backline. If you release the stone to late, you may have hogged the stone (released after the hog line) or it will not make it past the farther hog line.
Now let's get back to our delivery. Previously, you just finished pushing out of the hack and are in a lunging position. As you begin to move along the ice, you will be in a position that looks like this:
You now begin to feel yourself starting to slow down. This is the best time to gently release the curling stone, and begin to apply the "handle" to the stone (we will learn about handle later in this chapter). For now, just pretend that you are releasing the curling stone and rotating it in some direction that your skip specified.
Important: Release the curling stone gently. If you give it a push, it may go through the house, pass the backline, and go out-of-play.
Applying a Handle
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. 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 10 o'clock position or 2 o'clock position, depending on which way the stone needs to curl. 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 3 to 4 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.
If your skip wants you to release your stone in a clockwise rotation, they will extend their right hand - which will look like their left hand from your location in the hack.
For a clockwise rotation, you will start your stone handle at the 10 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.
If your skip wants you to release your stone in an anti-clockwise rotation, they will extend their left hand - which will look like their right arm from your location in the hack.
For an anti-clockwise rotation, you will start your stone handle at the 2 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.
In-Turn and Out-Turn
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.
In this chapter, we learned about releasing the stone. When a stone is released, it is done so gently, without a push, and is given a certain handle. We also learned that there are two possible handles that a curling stone can be given: a clockwise rotation or an anti-clockwise rotation. Typically, the skip will use hand signals to convey the handle to the thrower because the terms in-turn and out-turn are specific based on the hand the thrower is using.