If you’ve ever played shuffleboard, then you know the basic idea behind curling. But if you’re trying to watch it on TV or in person, there are a few rules and terms that you’ll want to understand.


While we certainly won’t go into every rule of the game, we’ll go over the basics.

Basic Gameplay

Two teams of four people take turns sliding 8 polished stones, also called rocks across lanes of ice, known as sheets. They push these stones toward the house, which is a large circular target on one end of the sheet. The closer to the center of the house that the stones stop, the more points a team is rewarded. When a team has thrown all its stones, the round, or end is over. An entire game can consist of 8-10 ends. All three players on the sheet will take turns throwing the stones.


There is a lot of strategy that is involved with curling, especially after both teams have thrown a few stones. Two sweepers with brooms can influence the path of each stone by changing the state of the ice in front of it. This can cause the stones to move in different directions. The person throwing the stones, or curler, can also cause the stone to slowly rotate or curve when they throw them.


Besides the few words relative to a curling discussion that we have already mentioned, there are a few more that can help you follow this sport.

  • Delivery – This is the word used to describe the act of throwing or sliding a stone down the sheet.
  • Skip – The captain of the team.
  • Weight – When used in conjunction with a stone, this refers to its velocity.
  • Turn/Handle/Curl – The rotation of the stone, which gives it a curved path.
  • Line – The direction of a throw before it’s affected by the turn.
  • Pick/Pick Up – When a foreign object intrudes the sheet.
  • Hack – The line from which the thrower throws the stones.
  • Burn/Burning a Stone – This is the term for a stone being touched after it is thrown – by a person, broom or anything else. There are no penalties for touching stones while none are moving, but burning a stone has various negative consequences.

The next time you watch curling, see if understand it a little better.