Curling Rules Explained

It seems that every 4 years people can’t look away when curling is broadcast during the Winter Olympics. The game looks so fun and playable because the competitor’s bodies don’t look much different than those around you at the pub. You may not need to be super athletic to be successful if you do decide to give it a try at your local ink rink but you will need to know the basic rules. Here is a quick primer on how to play.

Curling is a strategic winter sport often nicknamed “chess on ice.” It involves two teams of four players each, who take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also known as rocks, towards a circular target marked on the ice called the “house.” The objective is to have your team’s stones closest to the center of the house, which is known as the “button.”

The Basics:

  • Teams: Each team has four players: a lead, second, vice, and skip.
  • The Ice: The playing surface is called a “sheet,” which is a long, narrow strip of smooth ice.
  • The House: The target at each end of the sheet, consisting of concentric circles.
  • Stones: Each player slides two stones per end, alternating with the opponent.


  • Delivery: Players slide stones from the “hack” at one end of the ice to the house at the other end.
  • Sweeping: Team members can sweep the ice in front of the stone to influence its speed and direction.
  • Scoring: Points are scored for stones resting closest to the button after all stones are thrown in an end.


  • Curling Stones: Weighing between 17 and 20 kg, made of granite with a handle on top.
  • Brooms or Brushes: Used for sweeping the ice.
  • Curling Shoes: One sole is smooth for sliding, the other grippy for traction.
  • Other Gear: Gloves, specific trousers, and a stopwatch may be used.


  • After all eight stones are thrown by each team (an “end”), the team with the stone closest to the button scores points. Additional points are awarded for each stone closer to the button than the opponent’s nearest stone.

Winning the Game:

  • A standard game consists of ten ends. The team with the most points after all ends are completed wins. If tied, extra ends are played to break the tie.

Key Rules:

  • Hog Line: Stones must be released before reaching this line near the throwing end.
  • Free Guard Zone: Stones in this area cannot be removed from play until after the fourth stone of an end.
  • Five-Rock Rule: Teams are not allowed to eliminate their opponent’s rocks in the free guard zone until five stones have been played.

Curling is a game of skill, strategy, and teamwork, with players aiming to place their stones in advantageous positions while preventing their opponents from doing the same. Understanding the rules above in conjunction with various elements from temperature, humidity, & ice conditions can give your team the edge.