Curling Etiquette

The Spirit of Curling
The Spirit of Curling is a commonly used term in the sport. It refers to the respect curlers show, not only to one another, but also to the sport itself. It is encapsulated by the saying that a curler would rather lose than win unfairly.

The Spirit of Curling generally sees no player attempt to gain an advantage in the game through any malice, whether by breaking the rules, distracting opponents or acting in an unsporting manner, which would effectively disadvantage their opponents. It is expected that if a player should do so then they admit to their fault.

While the main objective of the game is to determine the relative skills of the players, the Spirit of Curling demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honorable conduct. This spirit should influence both the interpretation and application of the rules of the game and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice.

The Spirit of Curling plays a crucial role not only in professional curling, but also in local curling. In most leagues across the world there are no referees or officials. Rules are based on the Spirit of Curling and every curler should adhere to this etiquette when playing.

Curling is a game that by tradition requires sportsmanship, courtesy and respect for your opponent. The game has a long history of unwritten rules of etiquette that govern play and behavior in addition to the official rules. For example, curlers compliment a good shot regardless of whether it was their teams or the opposing teams. Remarking on a poor shot made by either team or celebrating a competitor's misfortune will not be acceptable to your teammates. Below is a summary of common curling etiquette.

Before the game begins

  • Wear clean, appropriate footwear that will not damage the ice.
  • Arrange to have at least two members of your team arrive early to help set up the ice. If yours is the last game of the night your team should help clean up.
  • Be prepared to step on the ice at the designated time. If you are unable to make a game, advise your skip ahead of time and arrange for a sub. Please email subs@stlouiscurlingclub.org, and say when you need a sub, and who else is on the team. This email goes to everyone who wants to be a potential sub. Subs should play Lead or Second position, unless the skip is missing and the other team members haven't skipped before.
  • Introduce yourself and shake hands with your opponents before the game & wish everyone ‘good curling’.
  • Thirds/Vice Skips flip a coin, and whichever team wins the toss has the option of throwing the last rock (the hammer), or choosing rock color. The team that wins the toss will usually opt for the advantage of last rock, in which case the other team chooses the color they want.

Positions/Game play

  • When your opponents are preparing for delivery, sweepers stand to the side of the sheet between the hog lines. They move only after the stone has been released, and remain quiet when opponents are delivering their rocks.
  • If you are throwing next you may stand behind the hack, but remain quiet and out of sight of the opposition thrower.
  • In delivering a stone, once you cross the tee line the stone is in play and you may not return to the hack for another delivery
  • Compliment a good shot by either side. A curler never passes an adverse remark about a poor shot nor does she/he smile at an opponent’s misfortune.
  • Avoid stepping onto or walking up and down the sheet of ice next door if teams are playing on it.
  • Only the skip & vice of the delivering team should be in the house.
  • The Skip/Vice can stand behind the other Skip to watch the line, but should try not to have their broom placed down vertically on the ice, since this may put the thrower off by seeing two brooms! It's courtesy for the Skip standing behind to position their broom horizontally across their body.
  • At the conclusion of an end, all Firsts, Seconds and Skips remain outside the house until the opposing thirds have agreed on the score. Scores are marked by the third from the team who won the end.
  • Don’t put hands on the ice or kneel on the ice.
  • BE ALERT - stop rocks before they leave your sheet.

Speed of Play

  • Each end should take 15 minutes or less. This means stones must be delivered less than one minute apart. Take your position in the hack as soon as your opponent has delivered his/her stone. It is up to the skips to keep the game moving at a brisk pace.
  • Take care not to walk down the middle of the sheet after your team’s shot. You should walk on the sides to minimize wearing down the pebble, but more importantly to provide a clear view for the next curler to deliver the stone. They cannot determine what shot the skip calls for, nor can they deliver a stone if you are strolling down the middle of the sheet.
  • Do not put rocks out for your opponents. They may have a particular order in which they want to deliver the stones.
  • As a courtesy to keep the game moving, it is typically the lead’s job to place the skip’s rock in front of the hack when it is time for the skip to shoot.
  • Strategy and decision making is the responsibility of the Skip. When it comes time for Skips to throw, they should discuss strategy with their Third/Vice Skip. These decisions should not be drawn out. Taking too much time is unfair to the opposition.

Sweeping

  • When your team mate is throwing their rock, sweepers should keep far enough apart so that they don't block the sightlines or impede the movement of their team mate throwing.
  • Sweepers should position themselves on or around the tee line, near to the hack, to start sweeping a rock. If your team mate releases a slow moving rock, waiting for it to come to you at the hog line or beyond defeats the purpose of sweeping. Sweepers should start moving with the thrower and be level with the rock ready to sweep as soon as it is released if needed.
  • The other reason why sweepers should position themselves closer to the hack for sweeping is so that when the Skip comes to throw a rock (which would already be waiting for them at the hack!), the Skip can discuss strategy with the sweepers while preparing to throw. This makes it easier for the Skip to communicate with the front-end, the front-end will benefit by knowing what they need to do and will start to understand more about strategy; and it keeps the game moving along quicker.
  • If you accidentally displace a stationary stone, please announce it immediately. It’s the privilege of the opposing skip to replace the stone to their satisfaction.
  • If you burn a stone (touch it with your broom), be the first to announce it. If the rock is burned before the far hog line, remove the rock immediately.
  • If the rock is burned after the far hog line, allow the rock to continue to its rest and notify your skip that the rock was burned. The opposing Skip then has the option to:
    1. Remove the touched stone, and replace all stones that were displaced after the infraction to their original positions; or
    2. Leave all stones where they came to rest; or
    3. Place all stones where it reasonably considers the stones would have come to rest had the moving stone not been touched.

After the game

  • Both teams shake hands after a game and wish each other ‘good curling’.
  • Vice Skips post the score on the draw sheet.
  • Teams should help clear the ice of equipment and stones
  • If people are having a sociable drink after the game, it's considered good etiquette to sit with your opposition. Winning teams usually buy drinks for opposition & then opponents reciprocate.
  • Never send a stone down the ice unless its route is completely clear and no one is standing unaware near its path. It is best to walk the stones to the rink door rather than throwing them down the ice.

Skip Responsibilities

  • Make your team aware of curling etiquette.
  • Please point out to your team that sitting or resting on the ice deteriorates the ice. It is okay to touch the ice when you are moving but not when you are stationary. Continue to make curlers aware of this.
  • Be aware of safety. Recommend grippers be new and worn at all times after a delivery. Help sweepers prevent falls by suggesting that when they are sweeping their feet and body face towards the house they are delivering towards.
  • Set an example; be courteous & be aware of team dynamics. Be a Nice Person.
  • Winning & competition are not paramount to many of our team members. They curl for other reasons such as social & exercise. Tailor your expectations to the ability of your team members. Be considerate of those of lesser talents.
  • Know the rules so you can assist your team.
  • Make sure your team is ready to play on time; that is they are on the ice and ready to throw the first rock by your scheduled time. If one member is not able to start on time inform the opposing skip, start your game and fit your team member in when they arrive.
  • To receive points for a win or tie, your game results have to be posted. Usually this is the vice’s job but you may want to follow through to see that this is done.