Your First Game

This is part 3 of the New Member's Guide, a series of articles that help prepare new club members for their first season.

It is the night you have been keenly waiting for! In this article, we will give you a quick overview of what happens on the night of your first curling game.

Getting to Your First Game

If you need to purchase equipment, please check the Club Calendar to see when the pro shop will be open. If you plan to visit the pro shop just before your first game, plan to arrive at least 45 minutes ahead of draw time to take care of business.

Otherwise, generally plan to arrive at the club at least 15 minutes before your scheduled draw time every week -- this helps your skip make sure everyone is present and gives you time to change, stretch, and chat with your team, talk about strategy, line-up, the weather, what beverage to buy after the game, etc.

For the first game, you may want to get there a little earlier even if you already have purchased your equipment to allow time to meet your team and maybe get some last minute pointers to throwing a rock or sweeping. Once you have arrived, the league rep will be there to help you find your skip and teammates. Introduce yourself to everyone, you will be playing a lot with these folks!

Change your shoes, slip on your grippers, and make sure you have your slider with you. If you don’t have your own broom and stabilizer, have a look out onto the ice to see where the rental equipment is kept. You’ll grab a broom and put a stabilizer at the end of your sheet as you enter the ice arena.

There is a changing room/locker room in the basement if you need it. Use the east stairs (near the office) to access the locker room. The door to the locker room requires a code; ask any league member or staff for the code. There are men’s and women’s washrooms with changing areas inside the locker room. If you’re interested in renting a locker, visit our manager in the office or email her at manager@nanaimocurlingclub.ca.

It is a good idea to stretch before your game. You will find curling uses a lot of muscles that are not normally exercised, and you will be sore the next day if you do not warm up well.

Please avoid going out into the ice arena until our icemakers have indicated that the ice is ready for use. They’ll do this by taking down the scores from the prior games.

A few minutes before the draw time, the league rep will make announcements. They’ll go over any league specific items, club announcements, etc. Afterwards, head out with your team to the ice to play your match!

Pre-Game Rituals

Before people step onto the ice, usually both teams wait on the carpet for all the players to get to that sheet. You will shake hands or tap brooms with each of your opponents and wish them "Good curling!", and the thirds will flip a coin to determine who goes first and which color to play.

It is very likely that you will be the first person on your team to throw rocks. This is a good time for you to get ready for your throw.

Safety

If you have not had a chance to be on the ice for a while, take your time getting on and off, and walk, not run. When wearing your slider, always step on to the ice with your gripper foot first.

Be aware of people and rocks around you, especially when you are sweeping. Make sure you are not "butt sweeping" - walking backwards as you sweep - but instead are facing the direction you are walking while you are sweeping so you can see rocks or people in your path.

Basic Curling Rules

There are 6 or 8 ends to a game, depending on what league you are playing in. An "end" is like an inning in baseball.

During an end, the teams alternate throwing rocks until all rocks are thrown to the opposite side. And the next end those rocks are thrown back.

The basic goal is to have the rocks closest to the center of the house (called the "button") by the end of the end to score points, and your skip will be on the far side directing play to help achieve that.

After 6 or 8 ends of scoring, whichever team has the higher score wins. Either team can concede a game any time. A 6 end game takes about 1.5 hours and an 8 end game takes about 2 hours.

During an end

It is most likely that your skip will ask you to play lead for your first game, and this means you throw your team's first two rocks.

If your team goes first in an end, you will throw the very first rock, your opponent team's lead will throw their first rock, then you will throw your second rock.

If your team goes second in an end, your opponent team's lead throws their first rock, you throw your first rock, your opponent team's lead throws their second rock, then you will throw your second rock.

When your teammates are throwing their rocks, you will be one of the two sweepers sweeping those rocks.

At the end of an end

After all the rocks are thrown, the thirds will look at the house to determine the score. The team that scores will go first in the next end.

You will be asked to stay out of the house until they agree on a score, and then you either help put away rocks or prepare for your shot if you are throwing next.

Post-Game

Every curling match ends with both teams shaking hands or tapping brooms again and saying "good game!".

If you borrowed a rental broom, please clean it and put it back in the bin - and toss a loonie into the rental fee box.

Typically after every match, both teams gather in the social area upstairs to socialize. This is a great time to get to know other members of the club! Also, feel free to ask any questions that came to mind during the game, just about everyone will be happy to explain anything you didn’t understand.

Some leagues will do 50/50 draws during the post-game social time so bring a loonie or toonie if you would like to participate.

Congrats on your first curling match!

You will find that there are many specific things curlers do during a game that is more involved than just throwing rocks, sweeping, and counting points. We will cover that in the next article in this series, Game Etiquette Basics.