Curling: The Basics

  • Photo: WCF/Richard Gray

Curling, it's really easy to follow once you get to know some of the basics.

Essentially, the goal of curling is to score points by sliding curling stones down a sheet of ice with the aim of getting as many of your stones closer to the centre of the house (the area that looks like a target) than your opponent. However, there's more to it than that and here's some of the basics the help you get into this wonderful sport:

2 Minute Guide to Curling

The Basics

Here is some basic information on the sport of curling and how it is played:
  • The head (or captain) of the team is called the skip
  • The skip usually dictates other player’s shots through verbal and visual instructions
  • Each period of play is called an end
  • Each team takes it in turns to throw a stone, one player at a time
  • Each team can have a replacement player if required (also known as an alternate)
  • A game is made up of 8 to 10 ends depending on the competition
  • An end consists of each team member playing two stones, alternately with the opponent's stones*
  • When all 16 stones have been delivered, the score for that end is determined*
  • A 3.66 metre (12-foot) circle is the scoring area. This is known as the ‘house’
  • For each stone closer to the centre of the house than any of the opponent's, one point is scored
  • Every stone within 1.83 metres (six feet) of the tee is eligible to be counted
  • If two or more stones are so close to the tee that it is impossible to use a measuring device to determine the scoring stone, the determinations are made visually by the Game Umpire
  • If no decision can be made no points are awarded for these stones
  • The team scoring plays first in the next end, giving the opponents the last stone of that end
  • The team with the most points at the conclusion of the game is the winner
  • If the teams are tied at the completion of the regulation number of ends (8 or 10), a complete ‘extra end’ must be played in order to break the tie
  • If both teams are still tied after the extra end, play must continue for as many ends as may be required to break the tie
  • Each team must complete its play within a limited time of 38 minutes Thinking Time*
  • Each team is allowed to call one time-out of one minute each during the regular 8 or 10 ends of a game
  • Each team is allowed an additional time-out of one minute and four minutes, thirty seconds of thinking time for each extra end
  • During a game there are breaks of at least one minute after each end, five minutes at the completion of five ends and one minute before the first extra end
  • Other than during a called time-out, the longer break times are the only time coach interaction with the team is allowed
  • For round robin games, at the conclusion of the team's pre-game practice, two stones will be delivered to the tee at the home end, by different players - one stone with a clockwise and the other with a counter-clockwise rotation.
  • The first stone will be measured and removed from play before the second stone is delivered. The distances recorded for each stone will be added together to give the team its LSD total for that game.
  • The team with the lesser LSD total will have the choice of delivering the first or second stone in the first end of that game.
  • If the LSD totals for both teams are the same then a coin toss will decide which team has the choice of delivering first or second stone in the first end.
  • For post round robin games, the team with the better win/loss record has the choice of delivering the first or second stone of the first end
  • If the teams have the same record, the winner of their round robin game will have the choice of delivering the first or second stone in the first end
*Note: This is different in other curling disciplines. Visit the Curling Discplines page to find out more about the different curling disciplines and the rules that apply to them.


After completing each end, the team with the stone(s) closest to the centre of the house (known as the tee or button) scores one point.

Teams can score more points for every other stone in the house closer to the tee than the closest stone belonging to the opposing team. Stones must be in or touching the house to be considered for scoring.

The team scoring delivers the first stone in the next end, giving the opponents what is called the ‘hammer’, or the last stone advantage of that end.

See the image below thanks to @sportsgeeks