Curling Etiquette for Beginners

The rules of the game of curling are both very simple and, at the same time, often a bit complicated. For the full current rules governing the game go here (but set aside some time as they are in depth!). For a simpler explanation of the game why not just watch this video?

Good manners

The spirit of the roaring game demands good sportsmanship, common courtesies, and honourable conduct. While not strictly in the rulebooks, curling courtesy goes a long way towards an enjoyable day of curling. The following is an explanation of some of these courtesies along with some basic rules.

Be prepared. Take care to ensure that you are well acquainted with the fixture list. Be aware that fixture times and dates can change for a variety of reasons. Every effort will be made to ensure that when you are scheduled to play in an affected match you are kept informed. Where possible, these changes will also be posted on the club website.

Get a sub. On occasions when you're not able to curl as scheduled, it's your responsibility to get a substitute. The normal rule is that if you are a lead or second then you should arrange for a sub that is also a lead or second in the same competition. The same rule applies for thirds and skips who should arrange a substitute from the other thirds and skips in the competition. Call your skip and give the name of the curler substituting for you or the names of people you have called. No-shows are simply not acceptable as your rink will be penalised 1 stone for every 5 minutes of no-show, up to a maximum of 6 stones.

Be on time. Get to the rink in time to change and warm up before the game. When you're late you're holding up seven other players. If you know you'll be unavoidably late, inform your skip in advance.

Start with a handshake. At the beginning of a game, greet the members of the opposing team with a handshake, tell them your name, and wish them good curling. Make sure that everyone knows everyone else.

Finish with a handshake. When the game is over, offer each of the players a hearty handshake and move off the ice. The winning curlers traditionally offer their counterparts some refreshment.

Keep the ice clean. The shoes you wear should only be used for curling. Keep them clean.

Hand and knee prints. The Ice Man has spent a considerable amount of time and effort in getting the ice into perfect curling condition for you. Leaving hand and knee prints on well prepared ice can cause a stone to run untrue and is unfair to the other players.

Compliment a good shot. One of the nicest curling traditions is that players and spectators compliment a good shot by either side while not remarking on a poor shot or a competitor's misfortune.

Be ready. Take your position in the hack as soon as your opponent has delivered his/her stone. Keep the game moving: delays detract from the sport. Be prepared to sweep as soon as your team-mate releases the rock. Don't be caught off guard and have to run after the stone.

Be courteous. Don't distract your opponent in the hack. It is polite and good manners to be still and stay silent when your opponent is delivering his/her stone. Don't walk or run across the ice when a player is in the hack. Don't gather around the back of the house when an opponent is throwing. Leads and seconds have little business in the house and should remain between the hog lines when not sweeping.

Wait for the score. Thirds are the players who will normally decide on the score for each end. All other players should wait beyond the hog line until told they may move into the house to clear the stones, or until the thirds move the stones in the house. The seconds from both teams have the joint responsibility of keeping the score on the rink scoreboards and maintaining an accurate score sheet.

Your opinion. The two skips are in charge of the game. Whilst they will often confer with their own thirds on game strategy and particular shots it is polite and corteous to keep your own opinion on such aspects of the game to yourself unless you are asked specifically by the skip for your opinion.

Some Basic Rules

Free guard zone

The Free Guard Zone will apply for all games. This zone is defined as the area between the hog line and the tee line, excluding the house, and no stone lying within this zone may be removed from play by the opposition until the first four stones played in any end have come to rest.


All players may sweep any stone belonging to their team from Tee line to Tee line, but only one player may sweep behind the house Tee line. This would normally be the skip or a person nominated by the skip. The skip, or a player nominated by the skip may sweep any opposition stone which runs beyond the house Tee line but no opposition stone may be swept before the house Tee line.

Sweeping must be across the full running surface of the stone, and must finish clearly to either side of the stone

Stone delivery

You must clearly release the stone before it reaches the hog line nearest to the delivery hack. A shot may only be replayed if in its delivery the stone has not reached the Tee line nearest to the delivery hack. Any running stone which, in the course of sweeping (or otherwise), is touched by a member of the side to which it belongs, or by his or her equipment, is burned and must be removed from play immediately by the offending side.

A stationary stone in play, which is accidentally moved, is replaced to its original position to the satisfaction of both skips (note that only burned running stones are removed from play). Any stone coming to rest on the side-lines or having crossed the back line and lying clear must be removed from play immediately. However, a stone may cross the side-line and come back into play. Any stone that has not cleared the far hog-line is not in play and must therefore be removed, unless it has touched another stone in play. No stone may be measured until the last stone of the end has been played.

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