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Curling Terminology by Category


Facility and Event Oriented Terms


Arena ice:  Curling on a surface that’s normally used for figure skating or hockey


Bonspiel: A curling tournament, typically from 1 to 4 days in duration


Dedicated Ice: An ice facility that is used exclusively for curling, with specialized ice groom equipment


Rink: A curling team (e.g., “the Shuster Rink”), but also refers to figure skating or hockey surface used for curling

Curling Ice Features and Markings 

In the form of a leisurely stroll down the sheet, listing components in roughly the order you’d encounter them.


Sheet: The area of ice roughly 150’ long and between 14' 2" and 16’ 5" wide, with markings suitable for the sport of curling


Boards: The ends of the sheet (no more than 150’ apart) – these are generally not marked out in arena curling


Hack: A pair of parallel footholds mounted into/onto the ice no more than 6’ from the boards.


Center line:  A line running the full length of the playing sheet – exactly 138’ from near hack to far hack


House: The 12-foot diameter concentric rings at both end of the sheet that are used for scoring (i.e., those giant targets)


Back line:  A ½” wide line across the ice 6’ in front of each hack, intersecting the “back” of the house


Tee (or Pin):  A small hole in the ice located directly in the center of the house (exactly 12’ in front of each hack


Tee line:  A ½” wide line across the ice that intersected the center-line at the tee


Back (of the house): The half of the house closest to the near hack (between the back line and tee line)


Top (of the house):  The other half of the house (i.e., farthest from the closest hack)


Button: The 12- to 16-inch circle centered on the tee


4-foot circle:  The 4-foot diameter ring centered on the tee (and similar for the 8’ and 12’ circles)


Side lines:  Lines parallel to the centerline that are at least 13” (max. 27”) from the right and left edges of the house


Hog line: A four-inch wide stripe across the sheet located 33’ from each hack


Guard zone:  The playing area bounded by the hog line, side lines, tee line, and the “front” of the house


Far hog: The hog line at the far end of the ice (from the perspective of the curling delivering a rock)


Scoring end:  The area bounded by the far hog to the far back-line, where rocks are delivered to for scoring

Curling Equipment


Broom (or Brush): A tool for sweeping in front of a rock to remove frost/debris and to warm the ice


Delivery stick: A device for delivering rocks from either a walking or seated (wheelchair) position


Gripper: A rubber exo-sole that’s placed over a slider or sneaker treads to improve traction on the ice


Rock (or Stone): The granite quoit that a curler delivers, weighing between 38 and 44 pounds each


Slider:  Teflon or stainless steel on the sole of a curler’s non-dominant foot, for sliding on during delivery


Stabilizer:  A device carried in the non-dominant hand during delivery to assist with balance


Step-on slider:  A temporary slider to step onto for curlers who don’t have actual curling shoes

Shot Calling Terms

A bunch of terms related to how and what the Skip communicates to other players on the team to describe the desired shot


Broom: The location that the Skip places the broom is the “target” towards which the shooter deliver the stone


Draw:  Any shot called by the Skip where the rock is intended to come to rest within the field of play


Handle: The direction that the rock is gently spun during the release (clockwise to curl right, and vice versa)


        In-turn:  Clockwise handle from a right-handed curler or a counterclockwise handle from a left-handed curler


        Out-turn:  Opposite rotation from In-turn.  Hint: Elbow would move out, away from body, to impart an out-turn


Line of Delivery: An imaginary line from the hack foot to the Skip's broom


Negative ice:  When a Skip intentionally calls for the seemingly ‘wrong’ handle to compensate for a fall in the ice


Roll:  The trajectory and distance that a rock slides after an impact of one or more other rocks


Take-out:  Any shot called by the Skip that’s intended to remove one or more rocks from play

Terms that Convey Ice Quality


Fall:  A region of the curling sheet that is unlevel from left to right, adversely affecting the curl or the rocks


Fudgy (or Frosty): Ice on which the rocks seem to be slowing down more quickly than normal (aka, “slow ice”)


Keen: Ice on which the rocks seem to be travelling with very little friction (aka, “fast ice”)


Fast line: When one particular path down the ice is noticably more keen than the rest of the sheet

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Rock Delivery Terms


Delivery: The process for throwing (i.e. pushing) a rock down a sheet of curling ice towards the scoring end


Hack foot (or Trailing foot): The dominant foot, without the slider, that pushes off the hack


Handle: The direction that the rock is gently spun during the release (clockwise to curl right, and vice versa)


      In-turn: Clockwise handle from a right-handed curler or a counterclockwise handle from a left-handed curler


      Out-turn: Opposite rotation from In-turn.  Hint: Elbow would move out, away from body, to impart an out-turn


Lunge (or Slide):  The classic delivery position with the non-dominant foot beneath the chest and the dominant foot trailing (with the knee off the ice), the dominant hand on the rock preparing to release it, and a broom or stabilizer in the non-dominant hand for balance


Release: The last step of the delivery, when the rock is gently spun either clockwise or counterclockwise


Press & Pull back:  The optional steps of pressing the rock forward, then pulling it back towards the hack foot prior to lunging forward into the slide


The Lift: The old school method of delivery that begins with lifting the rock and swinging it back behind the knees, then swinging it forward and following it in the classic lunge position


The Utica slide: A goofy-footed, front-knee-on-ice delivery technique that nobody except Utica Curling Club members seem to be able to figure out (and that they’ve gotten quite proficient at using!)

Terms that Describe Shot Quality (or Status)


Falling: A rock that is curling in the opposite direction from the directly it would curl on flat ice given the current handle


Flash:  A takeout that completely misses all rocks in the house


Floating:  A rock that isn't quite falling, but doesn't seem to want to curl as much as the shot called for


Good line: The direction and curl of the rock are on track to complete the shot called by the Skip


Heavy (or Hot): Describes a rock that is travelling faster than the weight that the Skip had called for (i.e., "it’s heavy”)


Light:  Describes a rock that is travelling slower than the weight that the Skip had called for (i.e., "it’s light”)


Pick:  When a rocks "picks up something" from that ice that unexpectedly changes its travel


Narrow:  A rock that misses the line-of-delivery, erring on the side opposite the Skip’s outstretched hand


Room: The rock's path of travel appears to be well clear of any obstructions (i.e. guards)


Weight: The speed of the rock, usually relative to what the Skip had asked for


Wide:  A rock that misses the line-of-delivery, erring towards the Skip’s outstretched hand

Terms related to Player Positions and Roles

While in most cases the Vice will throw third, and the Skip will throw last (in fourth position), the “positions” and “roles” are actually independent of one another.  It’s not uncommon, for example, for a Skip to opt to throw in the Lead Position.  The Vice and Skip are the only two players allowed to be in the house at the scoring end at the beginning of a shot and are the only two players allowed to defensively sweep an opponent's rock.


Lead Position: Delivers the first two stones each end for a team


Second Position: Delivers the 3rd and 4th stones each end for a team


Third Position: Delivers the 5th and 6th stones each end for a team


Fourth Position: Delivers the 7th and 8th stones each end for a team


Skip: The role of captain of the team, who guides strategy and calls shots for the other players on the team


Vice-Skip (or Skip’s Mate): Holds the broom when the Skip throws his/her rock


Shooter:  The player delivering the current stone


Sweepers:  The two players who are neither shooting nor holding the broom on a shot will sweep the rock

Terms Related to the Rules & Game Play


Blank:  An end where no points are scored because none of the rocks is touching the rings after the hammer is thrown; the team with the hammer in a blanked end keeps the hammer for the next end


Burned rock:  A rules violation; when a player (or the player's equipment or personal effects) touches a stone in motion


Defensive sweeping: Sweeping an opponent’s rock after it has crossed the tee line of the scoring end of the sheet


Eight-ender:  A very rare feat of scoring 8 points in a single end


End: The portion of a game in which each team throws all of their rocks in one direction then agrees on the resulting score; a games are comprised of 8 or 10 ends (declared prior to the start of the game)


Force:  When the team without the hammer positions rocks in play in a manner that 'forces' the team with the hammer to settle for only one point


Hammer: The last rock thrown in the end; the team with hammer usually tries to either blank or score two or more points; the team that is scored against is granted the hammer in the next end


Hog line violation: When a player fails to let go of a delivered stone prior to it's leading edge crossing the near hog line


Hogged rock: When a player's delivered stone fails to completely cross the far hog line and is therefore taken out of play


Shooter:  The rock delivered during a shot (as opposed to any secondary rocks put into motion by it).  Also used to refer to the player that threw the shot.


Shot rock:  The rock currently closest to the center of the target (or house)


Sitting second: Indicates which rock is currently 2nd farthest from the pin (same for 'sitting third', etc)


Steal:  When the team without the hammer scores in an end


Warming the ice:  A rules violation; (a) sweeping near a stationary rock in anticipation that it will soon be in motion, or (b) sweeping defensively behind the tee line before the opponent’s stone reaches the tee line

There are basically only two types of shots in curling, the draw and the take-out.  All other shots are variants of those two concepts.


Types of draw shots:


Draw to the ____:  A draw into the house to a location requested by the Skip (e.g. button, wing, top-12’, etc)


Biter:  A rock that is only partially touching the house; these rocks count towards scoring


Freeze:  A draw that comes to rest touching (or almost touching) a stationary rock already in play


Guard:  A rock placed (generally in front of the house) so as to make opponent's subsequent shots more difficult


       Center Line Guard:  A guard places near the center line


       Corner Guard:  A guard placed a few feet to either side of the center line


      High Guard: A guard that is much closer to the hog line than to the top of the house


       Tight Guard: A guard that is very close to the house, but not "biting"


Promote (or Raise):  A draw shot to push a team’s own rock into a better position (usually into scoring position)


Split: A draw shot that taps one’s own rock on an angle, leaving both the target and the shooter in advantageous positions in the house (vs. a tap-up, which pushed the target rock forward rather than to either side).


Tap-back:  A draw shot that moves a rock back, leaving the shooter in an advantageous position "with backing"


Tap-up:  A draw shot that moves a rock in play to a better position (usually leaving the shooter as a guard)


Tick:  Similar to a split, but with the intent of repositioning a guard of either team's color from a position advantageous to the opponent into a position advantageous to your own team


With backing:  Indicates that a stationary rock in play would stop a drawn rock if it happens to be thrown just a bit too heavy (i.e., indicates that the player delivering can safely err on the heavy side for the draw)


Types of take-out shots:


Hit-n-Roll: A take-out with the intent of having the shooter roll to an advantageous position after the hit


In-off:  A hit-n-roll where the primary objective is get the shooter close to the button behind guard(s), and the take-out of the rock that is hit is just a coincidental result (rather than an objective) of the shot


Peel:  A heavy-weight take-out intended to remove a target rock such that the shooter also rolls out play


Runback:  A take-out that pushes an existing guard back to take-out one or more rocks guarded by it


Slash: A take-out of a guarded rock knocking a stationary rock in from the sides at an angle, leaving the guards in play


Throw-through:  A take-out without a target; basically just throwing a rock through the house on purpose


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