What does each person on a curling team do?
In order to keep a curling game moving along at an efficient, but action-packed pace, some positions on the curling team have specific duties that they must perform during the end.
The Lead’s Responsibilities
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. (Usually, the winning team takes the hammer.) Then, the other lead can select the color of the stones their team will use for the game.
During the game, the lead is responsible for throwing stones 1 and 2. After the lead throws their two stones, they sweep the remaining six rocks that are thrown by their team.
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.
The Second’s Responsibilities
During the game, the second is responsible for throwing stones 3 and 4. While the lead throws their two stones, the second is sweeping those stones. After the second throws their two stones, they sweep the remaining four stones.
In some curling leagues, the seconds are expected to keep the scoreboard updated. In other leagues, this is the skip's responsibility. At the competitive level, this doesn't matter because there is a scorekeeper that updates the scoreboard.
The Vice’s Responsibilities
During the game, the vice is responsible for throwing stones 5 and 6. While the lead and second throw their stones, the vice is sweeping those stones. After the vice shoots their two stones, they make their way to the other end of the ice, hold the line for the skip's shots, and tell the lead and second when to sweep.
The other duty of the vice is to work with the opponent's vice to determine the score at the completion of each end. Since the vices determine the score, they are also the ones that will use the measuring devices, if necessary. Typically, the vices can tell which stone is closer just by looking at them.
The Skip’s Responsibilities
During the game, the skip is responsible for throwing stones 7 and 8. While the lead, second, and vice throw their stones, the skip is at the other end of the ice, telling the sweepers when to sweep or not.
Essentially, the skip acts as the strategist. The skip will always tell the remainder of the team which shots to throw. There are different types of strategies that a skip can utilize throughout a game.
When the skip is telling the sweepers to sweep or not, they are making sure that the stone is following the proper line, and has enough weight to reach its desired location. Although it may seem like the skip is just yelling, they are yelling to convey important directions to the sweepers.
The Fifth’s Responsibilities
The fifth is exactly what is sounds like. It is a fifth player on the curling team. If, for some reason, a player becomes ill or is unable to play a game of curling, the fifth will step in as the fourth teammate. Usually, the fifth will play the lead position. However, the skip can determine the positions each teammate will play in this instance.
During international play, the fifth has a greater responsibility in addition to serving as a substitute. In some bonspiels, teams that make it to the playoffs can select the stones from any sheet that they want to use for the game, regardless of what sheet the team plays on. After teams complete their games, the fifth goes on to the ice and throws the stones from that sheet. This helps the teams determine which stones they will use in such critical matches.
The Coach’s Responsibilities
Every curling team has a coach. The main purpose of the coach is to help the team develop a strategy for the games they will play. At the national and global level, players do not need to be coached on how to throw a rock. The coach has a very limited role during the games.
During the game, the coach is only allowed to go down to the ice if the team calls a timeout. At this time, the coach will advise the team about the types of shots to make, and what to expect from the other team's shots. Otherwise, the coach remains away from the ice, and can have no communication with the team.
While the coach is watching the game, they may keep track of the types of shots being thrown by the team, and how effective each shot was. Coaches also keep track of how individual rocks are behaving. Every curling stone has its own slightly different set of characteristics. The coach will then communicate this information to the team at the halfway point in the game. This gives the team the rest of the game to adjust based on the feedback they have received from their coach.