Curling Coin Toss Rules

At the start of every curling game is a coin toss, more commonly called the coinflip. The coin toss happens after the sheet and scoreboard have been prepared. This consists of the ice being pebbled and nipped, and the stabilizers and sliders being placed by the hacks. The coin toss is used to determine which team gets the hammer, and which team will throw each stone color.

Curling Coinflip

The Handshake

Before every coinflip, there is a handshake between both teams. Each person on the ice will shake the hands of their opponent and teammates. It is also common for curlers to introduce themselves to players they have not played with before, and wish them good curling. The handshake is a part of traditional curling etiquette. You will always see curlers shake each other's hands before the coinflip.

The Coinflip

The leads from both teams are responsible for the coinflip. To start the coinflip, one lead will toss the coin, and the other lead will call either heads or tails while it is in the air. The coin will then fall to the ice and land. When the coin lands, the leads will check to see which side is face up. If the side guessed by the lead is face up, that team wins the coinflip. If the side not guessed by the lead is face up, the other team wins the coinflip.

Coinflip Results

The team that wins the coinflip gets to decide one of two things. The winning team gets to decide:

  1. If they want the hammer for the first end.
  2. If they want to throw a certain stone color.

Taking The Hammer

When a team wins a coinflip, it is nearly guaranteed that they will decide to take the hammer for the first end. Then, the team that lost the coinflip will then select the stone color they will throw. Let's say the winning team decides to take the hammer. The other team decides to throw the yellow stones and by default the winning team will be throwing the red stones.

The Scoreboard

The scoreboard can now be updated by placing the team names on the color of stones that they will be throwing. The skip can also place the hammer symbol, asterisk, or letter-H in the correct position for the team that has the hammer shot.


Before each game starts, a handshake between teams and a coinflip occurs. Both leads are responsible for executing the coinflip. One lead flips the coin, and the other calls which side it will land on while it is in the air. The team that wins the coinflip can select whether they want the hammer or not. Then, the other lead can select the color of the stones their team will use for the game. It is typical for the lead to place the skip's rock in front of the hack as they come down the ice to make their shots. This is seen as a common courtesy, and helps maintain the pace of the game.