• Introduction
  • The object of the game
  • Scoring in curling
  • Gameplay
  • Delivery and sweeping rules in curling
  • Game time & intervals
  • Mixed doubles
  • The curling sheet
  • Rules and regulations of curling equipment
  • Other rules of curling
  • Sources


  • Points: The team closest to the button scores a point. Each stone that is closer to the button than the opponent’s closest stone, scores an additional point.
  • To score a point, the stone must be ”in the house” (inside the circle or touching the rim)
  • Game: The game lasts for 10 ends (set of eight stones per team)


  • The thrower starts from the hack and slides towards the button
  • The stone must be released before the hog line
  • Team who won the last end delivers first


  • Played in a 4 vs 4 format
  • Each team has eight stones, each player throwing two stones per end
  • Both teams take turns delivering one stone at a time
  • After the 4th stone is delivered, stones in the free guard zone may be knocked and removed
  • Two members of the delivering team may sweep the ice before the tee line
  • One member of the opposing team may sweep the ice after the tee line
  • The stones on the sheet may not be touched with the broom or any body part
  • An extra end is played if the score is even after the 10th end 

Game time & intervals

  • Teams have a combined 38mins of Thinking Time to deliver all stones during a game
  • There is a 5min break after the 5th end
  • Teams have two 60 time-outs per game
  • If extra ends are required, teams have an additional 5mins of Thinking Time and one additional 60s time-out


Curling is a fascinating game that is often referred to as ”chess on ice”. The game has its roots in Scotland in the early 16th century. Before the modern curling sheets were invented, players used old ponds, lakes, fields, or other natural icy surfaces for curling purposes. The name ”curling” came from the way players used to describe the motion of the stone. The stones, on the other hand, merely had a flat bottom and were inconsistent in size and weight. 

The first official curling club, the Kilsyth Curling Club, was founded in 1716 and still exists today. The club also built the first pond specifically made for curling, the Colzium. However, it wasn’t until 1838 when the first official rules of curling were created by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The same club was also responsible for forming the International Curling Federation (ICF) in 1966, which still remains the main governing body of curling. 

Nowadays, with an estimated 1.5 million registered players, curling is one of the most recognizable winter sports around the world. Its biggest events include the World Championships, as well as different regional championships. Curling has also been a staple in the Winter Olympics since 1998 after being a demonstration sport three times. Wheelchair curling was also added into the Paralympics in 2006.

Object of the game

The object of curling is relatively simple. You must slide your team’s granite stones, also known as stones or rocks, into house center (button) at the end of a long strip of ice. The goal is to have your rocks closer to the center of the target than the opposing team. Of course, the other team has the same goal as they try to propel their stones closer to the target area or bump your stones away from it. 

Scoring in curling

A curling game consists of ten ends. An end, on the other hand, refers to a set of eight stones delivered by both teams. The team with the highest number of points after the last end is the winner. 

Similar to other boules sports like pétanque and bocce ball, once all stones have been delivered, the team closest to the button receives a point. Furthermore, any additional stone closer to the button than the opposing team’s closest stone scores an additional point. However, only stones that are in the house may score points. This means that the stone has to be inside the circle or hang over the edge of the ring. Because the stones have a rounded bottom, they do not have to make actual contact to the outer rim in order to be considered in the scoring. This type of shot is known as a biter. On the other hand, a blank end occurs if no points are scored.

If the score is tied after the last end, teams play an extra sudden-death end. The winner of the sudden-death end is declared the winner. 


A basic curling game is played two formats; 4 vs 4 and mixed 4 vs 4. In women’s, men’s and wheelchair curling, both teams may also have a substitute, also known as the Alternate. Before the game starts, both teams also designate a Skip (captain) and a Vice-Skip. The skip’s responsibility is to stand on the scoring end of the sheet and guide their team. When the skip is delivering the stones, the vice-skip takes over the skip’s duties. Additionally, teams also decide which team has the Last Stone Advantage, also known as the hammer. This is done by two players of each team, both of which deliver a stone as close to the button as possible. 

In regular team curling games, each player delivers two stones consecutively, while alternating with the opposing team. The first player to deliver is called the Lead, and the latter are known as the Second, Third, and Fourth. In most cases, the skip plays as the fourth position. One end is finished once all stones have been delivered. The winning team of each end loses their Last Stone Advantage, meaning they will deliver the first stone of the next end. A full match consists of ten ends. 

The most common curling shots consist of three main categories; guards, takeouts and draws. Guards are thrown in front of the house to protect your own stones from the opposing team’s shots. Takeouts are meant to remove stones from play and draws are delivered directly to the house to score points.

Modern rules of curling also have a free-guard zone and a four-rock rule to prevent uninteresting and predictable gameplay. The free-guard zone refers to the area between the house and the tee line. Stones in this area are called guards, and may not be removed from play out before four stones have been delivered. Hence, the four-stone rule. If a player accidentally knocks a stone sitting in this area before the fifth throw, the guard will be put back whereas the other stone will be removed. 

Curling games are always overseen by a Chief Umpire, whose main responsibilities include keeping track of the score, and making sure the game is being played according to the official rules of the World Curling Federation (WCF).

Delivery and sweeping rules in curling

Delivering a stone is done by sliding from the hack and releasing it before crossing the near hog line. If the stone is illegally thrown, it will be immediately taken off the sheet before it hits other stones or stops altogether.

Sweeping is also an integral part of curling. After the stone is released, two players from the same team may sweep the ice to increase the distance of the stone and decrease its curl. The team may sweep as long as the stone hasn’t crossed the tee line. On the other hand, the opposing team may sweep the ice after it crosses the tee line to prevent the other team from scoring any points.

Accidentally touching a stone with a broom or a body part is considered burning a stone. If this happens, the stones are usually removed or put back to their original places. 

Game time & intervals

Before the game starts, both teams have 9mins to warm up. Once the game has started, players are allowed a combined 38mins of Thinking Time to deliver all stones in a game. If the team runs out of time, they are forced to forfeit the game. Teams may also use two 60s timeouts per game. Additionally, there is a 5-minute break after the 5th end. 

If the game requires extra ends to determine the winner, both teams have one more 60s time-out and an added 5mins of Thinking Time. 

Mixed doubles

In mixed doubles, each team plays five stones and eight ends. Mixed doubles also start with two pre-placed stones on the sheet; the team with the Last Stone Advantage has a stone at the back of the 4ft circle, while the other team has a center guard stone in the middle of the sheet. Additionally, a blank end also changes the Last Stone Advantage. These rules help prevent the possibility of scoring six points in one end. Teams can also use a power play once per game. This moves the pre-placed stones to one of the sides, with the back stone against the tee line. 

Mixed games also have slightly different rules regarding the duration of the game and warming up. Both teams have 7mins to get ready for the first end, and the overall Thinking Time is reduced to 30mins per team. 

Due to having fewer stones per end, the lead player plays the first and fifth stone, while others play the second, third, and fourth stones. There are also wheelchair, and mixed wheelchair versions of curling, both of which have fewer ends and fewer stones to deliver per end.

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Curling is often referred to as "chess on ice".

The curling sheet

The curling sheet is a rectangular area of ice with a length of 45.72m (150ft) and width of 4.75m (15.6ft). Both ends of the sheet are stopped by a backboard. Additionally, two hacks placed on the hack line of each end. 

According to the official rules of curling, the sheet must have several parallel lines on both ends of the ice. These include:

  • Tee line: 17.35m (57ft) from the middle of the sheet
  • Back line: 1.83m (6ft) from the tee line
  • Hog line: 6.4m (21ft) from the tee line
  • Center line: Connects both tee lines and extends 3.66m (12ft) beyond the center of each tee line
  • Hack line: Parallel to each tee line at each end of the center line
  • Courtesy line: 1.22m (4ft) outside of both hog lines

The target area, or house, is located at the intersection of each tee line and center line, 4.9m (16ft) from the backboard. The house consists of a center button and four larger rings, with diameters of 152mm (6in), 610mm (2ft), 1.22m (4ft), and 1.83m (6ft).

Rules and regulations of curling equipment

In addition to an official curling sheet, the sport only requires three pieces of equipment; stones, special shoes, and a curling broom.

Curling shoes are similar to regular athletic shoes, except they have specialized outsoles. One of the shoes is known as a ”gripper” shoe, whereas the other one is called the ”slider”. The slider shoe is often made with a stainless steel or Teflon sole for better glide on the ice. The sliding design also ranges from a small disc slider to a full-sole surface. On the other hand, the gripper shoe often has a layer of rubber on the bottom to provide better traction. They may also have a rubber toecap for better durability during delivery.

The stones are made from granite and weigh between 17.24-19.96kg (38-44lbs), including the handle and bolt. They also have a maximum circumference of 914mm (36in) and a minimum height of 114mm (4.5in). 

The curling broom, also known as a brush, is often made of carbon fiber or fiberglass with a nylon, hog hair or horsehair head. The heads come in several shapes and sizes, whereas the shaft length depends on how tall the player is. 

Other rules of curling

While not exactly a rule, curling relies heavily on good sportsmanship, which is often referred to as ”the spirit of curling”. This means that players often call their own fouls and congratulate their opponents for well-made shots, strong sweeping and great form. Additionally, athletes never excessively celebrate their own shots or cheer for other’s mistakes. Of course, any negative or distracting comments are also frowned upon. 

Good sportsmanship may also lead to conceding a game if the team believes there is no hope of winning. In curling, concession is seen as an honourable act instead of quitting. To concede, the members of the losing team offer congratulate the winners by offering handshakes. In some areas, it is tradition that the winning team buys a round for the losing team afterwards. 

Did you learn anything new about the rules of curling? Let us know in the comments. 

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