Curling Etiquette

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The heart of curling is its time-honored tradition and incomparable spirit.  The spirit of curling is shown in good sportsmanship, mutual camaraderie, and honorable intent.  To promote this spirit and maintain these traditions, the following are some rules of etiquette that benefit all of us to enjoy this great sport.


  1. Be governed at all times by a spirit of good sportsmanship and fair play.  Each player will know the rules and never deliberately break them. Should you do so inadvertently, be the first to divulge the breach to your opponent and they will decide how to proceed based on the rules. Curling is a game that prides itself on respect, courtesy, and honor.
  2. Be on time for your game:   Don’t hold up seven other players.  Let someone know if you won’t be on time.  If there are groups after your game, this also delays the next play.   
    1. Teams can play with three curlers throwing 3 x 3 x 2 rocks (first player throws 3 rocks, second player throws 3, skip throws 2).  
    2. Substitutes may also be used. If a single substitute is used, they shall play lead position only. If two substitutes are needed, they shall fill the lead and second positions. The opposing skip shall approve all substitutes.
    3. Never No Show:  If your team cannot make the game, the skip contacts the opposing team or umpire as soon as possible.  
  3. Respect the ice:  
    1. Play with clean equipment, shoes, and (non-fleece, lint-free) clothing.  
    2. Keep your hands and knees off the ice. Your body heat melts the ice very quickly, making indentations in the ice that can affect the rock’s path.
  4. Pre-game Practice:  It is okay to take some practice slides on the sheet your game is on but do not throw any rocks.  If another sheet is open, you may throw a few practice rocks there.  
  5. Starting the game:  
    1. Start and end each game with a hearty handshake of friendship and goodwill.  
    2. Vice-skips will toss a coin – winner of the toss determines who has hammer and opponent determines rock color.  
  6. Play the game to win but never to humble your opponent.  Be courteous and compliment good shots.
  7. Be aware of your place on the ice:  When it’s the opposition’s turn, stand still and do not distract their play or view.  Walk to the outside of your sheet after your team has played a shot so your opponent can be ready as soon as possible.  Wait your turn on the sidelines, between the hog lines.
    1. Sweepers on the delivering team should be on the sidelines inside the hogline.  
    2. Skips on the non-delivering team should be behind the house in a stationary position with his/her broom off the ice, preferably behind the opposing skip.  
    3. Only the skip or vice-skip shall stand behind the tee line when the stone is in play. The one standing in the house may not be obstructed by the opposing skip or third.
    4. The opposition thrower should be behind the backboard and to the side of the ice, standing quietly.  
    5. Do not distract other games.  Never stand or walk on a sheet other than the one on which you are playing.
  8. Play Ready.  Slow games and people not ready distract from enjoyment and pace of play.
    1. When the other team is done throwing their rock, have your rock cleaned and be in the hack ready to go.
    2. Be ready to sweep as soon as your player is in the hack.  
  9. Pay attention.  Always know where the rocks are going and be aware of what’s going on during your game.  Skips may ask your opinion of the play.  You may also learn from watching the opponents play.  
  10. Wait for the score.  Only the thirds should be in the house to determine score.  Do not move any stones until scoring is settled.  Thirds will put the score on the board for their respective team.  
  11. A delivered stone may be swept by any one or more of the delivering team anywhere in front of the tee line at the playing end.  No player may ever sweep an opponent’s stone except behind the tee line at the playing end – only one member from each team should sweep behind the tee line.  
  12. At all times, watch for errant stones.  Do not let stones run into or over the hacks, hit the backboard at high speed, or cross onto adjacent sheets.  Equipment may be damaged or players injured by rebounding stones.
  13. The skip shall have exclusive direction and control of the game for the team.  Let the skip do the “skipping” unless you are asked for advice.
  14. Wave the white flag when necessary.  Unlike other sports, there is no negative connotation associated with conceding a game when a team feels it is impossible or near impossible to win.  This may occur at any point during the game but normally near the final end and agreed upon by the vice-skip.  Don’t keep playing when you are way down in a game or mathematically eliminated.
  15. When clearing rocks at the completion of an end, be sure to take care not to endanger your teammates or opponents.  
  16. End with a handshake.  At the end of the game, whether you win or lose, give each of your opponents a handshake, thank them for the game, and arrange to meet them for broom stacking.  The winning curlers traditionally offer their counterparts some refreshment and, in turn, their opponents normally reciprocate.  The winning team sweeps the ice.  This helps to keep the ice clean for the next group using the ice.