Curling Glossary

This is the bonus portion of the New Member's Guide, a series of articles to help prepare new club members for their first season.

This is a list of curling terms in alphabetical order.

Back End

Third and Skip

Biter

A rock just touching the outside edge of the 12-foot circle.

Bonspiels

Curling tournaments, often held on a weekend, and usually very fun, with a banquet and social opportunities.

Broom

The instrument used to sweep the ice. This term is also used for the line of the called shot.

Burned Stone

A moving rock that is touched by a player or their equipment, typically the broom.

Button

The innermost circle in the house. The button is 1 foot in diameter.

Bye

A league game day when a team is scheduled not to play.

Clean

Sweeping in front of a rock lightly to remove debris.

Delivery

The body motion of a curler as the rock is being shot.

Doubles Curling

A modified form of curling played with two players per team, which has two rocks in placed positions at the beginning of an end and five thrown rocks per team each end. “Mixed Doubles” requires one male and one female player per team; “Open Doubles” can have any combination of players.

Draw

A shot where the goal is for the rock thrown to stay in play. Usually the goal is either to draw "to the house" which means the intention is for the rock to stop inside the house (scoring area), or to draw a "guard" which means the intention is for the rock to stop short of the house.

Draw Time(s)

The scheduled game time(s) for a league.

End

Similar to an inning in baseball. One end is complete when all 16 rocks (eight per team) have been thrown to one end of the sheet of ice. A game is usually six or eight ends. Championship games are 10 ends, or about 2 1/2 hours. After each end, a score is determined by the thirds.

Flash

To completely miss a takeout.

Free Guard Zone

This rule states that none of the first five rocks thrown in an end can remove an opponent's rock from play if it is in front of the house. This rule was imposed to increase the strategy aspect of the game.

Freeze

A draw shot where the shooter ends up right against a rock in play.

Front End

Lead and Second

Gripper

The non-slippery shoe. Some shoes have grippers already attached to them, and some use a type that is slipped on and off the shoe.

Guard

A rock positioned between the hogline and the house.

Hack

The foothold from which a thrower kicks off to deliver a rock.

Hammer

The last rock thrown in an end.

Heavy

A thrown rock is heavy if it was thrown with more momentum than intended.

Heavy Ice

When the ice is "slow" and more momentum is needed to get the rock to the desired target.

Hit and Roll

A take out shot where a stationary rock is removed from play and the shooter moves to another part of the ice.

Hit and Stick

A take out shot where a stationary rock is removed from play and the shooter stays in place after hitting that rock.

Hogline

The painted horizontal line 15 feet in front of the house. Rocks must be across the far hogline from the thrower to be considered in play, and the thrower has to release the rock before the near hogline.

House

The scoring area, marked by painted circles. The house is 12 feet in diameter.

Hurry

A command shouted by the skip or shooter to tell the sweepers to sweep. Skips will also say "Sweep," or "Yes" to mean sweep.

Ice

The distance between the target broom and the spot the skip would like the rock to end up.

In the House

A rock is "in the house" if any part of it is within 6 feet from the pin, or, more practically, if it is touching any part of the house when viewed from above. A rock that is "in the house" can count towards the score.

Keen Ice

When the ice is "fast" and less momentum is needed to get the rock to the desired target.

Lead/First

The first person to throw rocks on a team. The lead throws rocks 1 and 2.

League Rep

A club member who volunteers to be the lead organizer / administrator for a league.

Narrow

A rock thrown inside the skip’s broom target.

Peel

A take out shot where both the shooter and a stationary rock are removed from play.

Pick

The shooter picks up some debris on the ice and changes direction unpredictably.

Pin

The center point of the house circles.

Playdowns

Competitive curlers will enter qualification tournaments or “playdowns” to win the right to represent their region or province.

Port

A gap between two rocks, through which a thrown rock is intended to travel.

Raise

A shot that bumps a stationary rock closer to the button.

Rink

A curling team, which consists of four players: the skip, third, second and lead. All players are involved in every shot, with one shooting, two sweeping, and one calling strategy. Two rinks play against each other.

Rink of Choice

Players register for Rink of Choice leagues as a team, and not as individuals. If you want to play in a Rink of Choice league but don’t have a team, contact the league rep or club manager to see if they know of any team looking for a player.

Rocks

Also known as stones, curling rocks are made of rare, dense, and polished granite quarried only on Ailsa Craig, an island off Scotland's coast. Each rock weighs 42 pounds.

Scoring

Only one rink scores per end, that being the rink with the rock closest to the center of the house. Points are awarded for each rock closer to the center than any of the opponent's rocks. The maximum score in an end is eight, which is very rare. Typically one to three points are scored per end. The team with the highest total at game's end is the winner.

Second

The second person to throw rocks on a team. The second throws rocks 3 and 4.

Senior Curling

To be eligible for senior curling leagues, women must be aged 50+ and men aged 55+.

Sheet

The 146-foot long ice playing area. The sheet's design allows play in both directions.

Shooter

The rock being delivered.

Shot

A rock delivery attempt.

Shot Rock

The rock that is currently closest to the button.

Skip

The teammate who directs play at the side opposite from the rock thrower. Sometimes they are considered the "captain" of the team. Usually the skip throws the last two rocks, which means they throw rocks 7 and 8.

Slider

Shoe on the sliding foot in the delivery of a stone to allow for a long, smooth motion and follow through. Specially-made curling shoes have sliders built in.

Straight Ice

When the ice conditions do not allow the stones to curl much.

Stick Curling

A modified form of curling, played with two players per team. Players deliver their rocks with delivery sticks and there is no sweeping. Stick leagues may be limited to senior curlers or wheelchair curlers.

Sweeping

Players sweep to make the rock travel farther or to keep it from curling more than desired. Good sweepers can increase the distance a stone travels by as much as 15 feet. Usually two players are ready to sweep each shot.

Swingy Ice

When ice conditions cause stones to curl greatly.

Take out

A shot where the goal is to remove a rock from play.

Teeline

The line that horizontally splits the house.

Third

The teammate who assists the skip. The thirds from the two teams perform the coin toss before a game starts and work out the score after each end. Generally, the third holds the broom for the skip when the skip throws their rocks. Usually, the third is the third person to throw rocks on a team, which means they throw rocks 5 and 6. A third is also referred to as a ‘vice’ or ‘vice-skip’ in some places.

Weight

The amount of momentum transferred to a rock. This determines how far the rock will travel.

Wick

The shooter glances off another rock just enough to change direction.

Wide

A rock thrown outside the skip’s broom target.