Curling Positions

Curling Positions

A curling team consists of four main players and an alternate fifth position. At any given time, four curlers per team are playing. While each player is responsible for throwing two stones in the end, there are also specific responsibilities for each position. Read on to learn about each position in curling.

What Are the Positions in Curling?

There are five main positions on a curling team. Each curling position has its own set of skills and responsibilities. The positions on a curling team are:

  • Lead (L)
  • Second (SE)
  • Vice (V)
  • Skip (SK)
  • Fifth (Alternate)
  • The Coach

The Lead Position

Curling Lead Position

The lead throws the first two stones of the end for their team. Then, they sweep the remaining six stones that their teammates throw. In addition to their ability to open up the game with important shots, leads are usually the strongest sweepers on the team.

At local curling clubs, it is usually the responsibility of the lead to perform the coin flip before the game, which involves working with the opponent's lead to either flip the coin or guess which side the coin will land face up. As a reminder, the coinflip determines which team gets the hammer first.

During a game, the lead is mostly responsible for throwing guards or draws. Typically, the lead's first stone of the end will be a guard. Then, the lead can draw around the guard on their second shot. The lead's most important job is to throw precisely. If the lead's shots are made well, the team has a firm footing at the beginning of the end.

The Second Position

The second throws the third and fourth stones of the end for their team. When the second is not throwing, they are sweeping the remainder of the stones. In general, seconds will throw either takeouts or draws. Since the Five Rock Rule expires when the seconds are throwing, it is common to see them take out an opponent's guard.

The most important trait a second can possess is throwing accurately. If the second can throw accurately, the team will be successful in maintaining control of the end. They must also be able to sweep in unison with the lead.

The Vice Position

Curling Vice Position

The vice throws the fifth and sixth stones of the end for their team. When the lead and second are throwing, the vice is sweeping. After the vice throws their stones, they act as the strategist while the skip throws their stones. After the end is over, they will work with the opponent's vice to determine the score for the end. Note that the vice can also be called the vice-skip or the third. While these names do not come up frequently, they are essential to know.

The vice will usually throw draws or takeouts. However, there may be times in which the vice needs to throw a guard. In general, a good vice can make any shot that their skip calls. When shooting, the vice is mainly responsible for setting up the skip for the final two shots of the end.

The Skip Position

Curling Skip Position

The skip is the team captain and throws the seventh and eighth stones of the end. When the skip is not throwing, they are at the other end of the ice calling the shots that the other teammates need to make and telling the other teammates when to sweep the stones. The skip acts as the strategist and plans out the shots to be thrown during the end. A smart skip is always considering multiple options and making backup plans in case something unexpected happens during a shot.

Like the vice, the skip will usually throw draws or takeouts but must be able to make any shot. If an end goes well, the skip may only need to throw guards. If an end goes in an unexpected direction, the skip may need to make a tough circus shot to keep the team in the game.

The Fifth Position

The fifth is an extra player on a curling team that plays if one of the main teammates becomes sick or injured. Also known as an alternate, the fifth may also play if one team is completely dominating the opponent, and the outcome of the game is decided by the third or fourth end.

If the fifth comes into the game, they will play either lead or second. Therefore, they need to be able to make any shot in any scenario. Although the fifth is usually unheard of, they can be an unsung hero if something happens to one of the main players.

The Coach

Like any sports team, there is always a coach to guide the curling team and develop the players' skills. However, a curling coach has very little influence during the actual game. The coach may only speak with the players at the fifth end break or when the team calls a timeout. While the team plays, the coach will keep statistics on how each player is performing and take notes about the team's overall performance. The notes can be shared at the fifth end break, after the game, or at future practices.


What are the members of a curling team called?

The four primary members of a curling team are the lead, second, vice, and skip. The lead shoots the first two shots of the end and sweeps for the remaining six. The second will throw shots three and four and sweep for the other six shots. The vice will sweep the first four shots and throw the fifth and sixth shots. They also serve as the strategist once the skip, who throws the final two shots, is throwing. Each team also has a reserve player.

How many players are on a curling team?

Standard curling teams feature four active players at any given time. These four players fill the four core positions of curling, with each one carrying its own responsibility. There is also a fifth player who is not active at the start of a curling match but could come in to replace an injured or ill teammate or receive playing time in the event of a blowout.

What is the most important position in curling?

The skip is the most important player on any given curling team. The skip is the team captain and leader, which comes with the responsibility of deciding strategy and directing teammates when they aren’t throwing their stones. The best skips offer masterful schemes, bringing out the best in their teammates during competition.