What Does Sweeping The Ice Do In Curling?

curling how to sweep

Every four years, the best curlers from around the globe come together to put on a fascinating display for the average viewer at the Winter Olympics. Although this is the biggest curling display worldwide, curling tournaments take place every year. While fans are enthralled by watching those stones slide down the ice, many do not quite understand the intricacies and techniques of landing a perfect throw. The initial release of the stone is quite important, but it’s the sweeping afterward that can be make-or-break for curlers. Read on below to learn why sweeping is so important in curling and its effects.


Why do curlers sweep?

curling sweeper

When curling, there are two main components involved in a throw. The first is the initial release of the stone by the thrower, and the second is sweeping, which takes place between two teammates as the stone glides toward the house or scoring area. While it is possible for someone to curl without the aid of sweepers, this action makes controlling the direction and speed of the stone much easier. When sweepers use brooms, they can speed up a stone in motion and redirect it to the target, whether offline or if there is a desired spot the team is trying to hit. Sweepers and throwers come together to form efficient curling teams that can hit their mark more often than not.

What effect does sweeping have?

Don’t be fooled: the sweepers aren’t just out there for the pageantry. While their performance is the most-mocked part of curling by fans everywhere, there is a science behind sweeping that makes it crucial to scoring well. When players sweep the ice with their brooms, they employ friction to help the stone travel faster and straighter. This happens because if a sweeper brushes the ice quickly enough, the friction from their broom will create heat and cause the ice to melt quickly. Though it does not melt much, the added slickness is just enough to provide less resistance to the stone, allowing it to maintain its momentum for longer. This same technique can also be used to influence the direction of a stone. If sweepers wish to turn a stone in a certain direction, they can quickly sweep in front of it toward whatever target they desire. Much like how sweeping helps speed, doing so in a specific direction creates a path of lowered resistance for the stone, prompting it to follow the slicker ice towards a target.

Strategy behind sweeping

Any good curling team not only understands how sweeping works, but also understands how to employ it effectively. When a thrower is sending their first stone down the ice, sweepers will try their best to direct it towards the center of the scoring area. However, if the opposing team already has stones in the house, then sweepers may try to redirect their team’s stone so that it knocks out the other team. Doing so is an effective way to gain an advantage by taking away points from the other team, and if done properly can also result in the aggressive team scoring extra points by getting another one of their stones in the target area.