Glossary

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We know you have a lot of questions about curling. Below are most common of those as well as terms and names you will hear while playing/watching the sport. If there is something you don’t see, ask us. We would love to hear from you.

Playing Surface
Sheet
The playing surface in Curling is called the Sheet. It is 146 feet (44.5 meters) long and 15 feet, 7 inches (4.75 meters) wide. The sheet is the same on both ends and is meant to be played in both directions.
House
The House is the target located at both ends of a curling sheet. It is comprised of four concentric circles. The center circle is 12 inches in diameter (sometimes called the button), the second circle is 4 feet in diameter, the third is 8 feet in diameter and the outside circle is 12 feet in diameter. Everything inside the 12 foot circle is considered inside the House. Stones must be in the House to be considered for scoring.
Button
The button is the center of the house.
Center Line
The center line runs lengthwise down the center of the ice. The center line is only used as a visual aid and is not used in the rules or scoring of curling. Some sheets do not have a center line between the two hog lines, other sheets do not have a center line at all. The intersection of the Tee and Center lines is called the Tee. This is the very Center of the House.
Tee Line
The Tee Line intersects the house, splitting it into two equal halves. These two halves are sometimes called the front of the house and the back of the house. The intersection of the Tee and Center lines is called the Tee. This is the very center of the house.
Hack
The Hack is a rubber block similar to a starters block in track and field. The curler positions him or herself in the hack and pushes off to deliver the stone across the sheet. The hack is 126 feet from the Tee Line on the other end of the sheet.
Hog Line
When a curler leaves the hack to deliver a stone, s/he must release that stone before the front edge of it hits the hog line. The hog line is 33 feet from the Hack and 93 feet from the Tee Line on the other end of the Sheet. If the curler’s stone fails to fully cross the hog line at the other end of the sheet, the stone is taken out play. This is called ‘hogging the stone’.
Back Line
The back line is directly behind the house and denotes the edge of the playing field. If a stone completely crosses the back line it is removed from play.
Game Play
Rocks
The rocks, sometimes called stones are made of a rare, dense granite quarried on Scotland’s Ailsa Craig. They weigh 42 pounds (19.1 kg), are gray and polished. Handles are added to the stones and are different colors for each team. In the Olympics the handles are Red and Yellow.
Brooms
Brooms are used to sweep the ice to make a stone travel farther and curl less. Straw brooms were used in the past, but now synthetic brushes are now mostly used, though the traditional broom name remains.
Shoes
Special curling shoes are used in the sport of curling. The non-sliding foot or hack foot shoe is used to grip the ice. The sole of the sliding foot shoe is usually coated with a slick surface like Teflon. It is used when delivering a stone. When not being used a gripper can be placed over the slick surface, although not all players do this. When a player does not have curling shoes, step-on or slip-on teflon slider can be used.
How long is a game?
Based on the level of play, a game can last from six to ten end, ends being all sixteen rocks being delivered to the end of the sheet. Most clubs will play eight ends per game lasting around two hours. Some bonspiels will only play six ends to speed it along. In the Olympics, ten are played.
How do you score points?
The team with the rock closest to the center of the house (the button) scores a point. That team then scores an additional point for each rock closer to the button than their opponents closest rock. If the opponent has no rocks in or touching the house (biting), one point is awarded for every rock in/biting the house. If no rocks are in the house when an end is completed, this is called a “blank end” and no points are awarded to either team.
What are sweepers for?
Sweeping will slightly melt the ice and allow for less friction as the rocks travel down the sheet. This allows it to travel farther than if it was not swept. Because it keeps the speed of the rock higher, it also keeps the rock from curling as much making it continue on a straighter line.
Who sweeps and who throws the rocks?
Generally speaking everyone sweeps and everyone “delivers” the rocks at some point. Each player will deliver two rocks alternating between teams. The lead, will deliver one rock and then the opposing team’s lead will deliver one. After both leads deliver their second, the second team members will deliver theirs in the same alternating fashion. This continues for the vice (third) and skip (forth). If you are not delivering a rock, you will be sweeping it as it travels down the sheet. The skip generally does not need to sweep unless the team needs to pull the rock further as it begins to slow down. They can also sweep the opponents rock after it crosses the tee line to attempt to remove it from the house.
Why isn't the ice smooth like when I go ice skating?
By spraying a mist of water on the ice, the surface becomes textured. This texture, or “pebble” as it is called allows the rocks to slide on the ice with less friction. Because the bottom of the rock is concave, it would actually create a slight suction to the ice and slow it down quicker without the pebble. As the game progresses, the pebble wears down and must be reapplied before the next game.
Common Terminology
Burning the Stone
Occasionally, players may accidentally touch a stone with their broom or a body part. This is often referred to as “burning” a stone. Players touching a stone in such a manner are expected to call themselves on it. Touching a stationary stone when no stones are in motion (there is no delivery in progress) is not an infraction (unless the stationary stone is struck in such a manner that its position is altered), and is a common way for the skip to indicate a stone that is to be taken out.
Hammer
This refers to the advantage of throwing the last rock in an end. At the beginning of a match, hammer is determined by flipping a coin. Whichever team wins the coin toss is awarded hammer. Once the match begins, whichever team didn’t receive points in the previous end is awarded the hammer advantage for the current end.
Hard
“Hard” is generally shouted at the top of the skip’s lungs telling the sweepers should sweep as hard as possible.
Up / No
“Up” or “No” refers to the skip telling the sweepers to either lift up their brooms and stop sweeping or simply, “No, don’t sweep.”
Weight
Weight is the term used to for how fast the rock is traveling down the sheet. If it has “good weight” it means that is appears to be the right amount of speed for the rock to make it to the point where the skip wants it to rest. If it has “tee line” or hack” weight, it means the speed of the rock will take to to the tee line or hack.
Guard
A guard is thrown to block another rock behind it to make it harder for the opponent’s team to remove it from the house or draw theirs closer to the button.
Bonspiel
A bonspiel is mid 16th century term (probably of Low German origin) meaning curling tournament.
Broomstacking
Broomstacking is an event that takes place after a game is finished. The two teams will leave the ice and stack their brooms in the corner and have a drink. Traditionally, the winning team will buy the first round for the loosing team. The second round is bought by the loosing team for the winning team. While enjoying a nice drink after a hard fought game, both teams socialize.
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