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What is Curling?

Curling is a sport believed to have been invented in the lochs of Scotland sometime during the 16th century, and the first recorded match was held in 1541. As the rules of the game became more standardized, it began spreading to other countries as a pastime during the winter months. Curling has been an official Winter Olympic sport since 1924.

Competitive Curling

Played on an ice rink, curling involves two teams of four players competing against each other. A curling match involves ten rounds known as “ends”, with each end featuring ten stones being thrown across the ice.

How to Curl

Although curling has been a mainstay of the Winter Olympics for decades, the rules and terminology of the game are often confusing for casual sports viewers. However, the basics of learning how curling works are easy to understand with just a bit of knowledge. The sport is very strategic, and the four players known as the lead, the second, the third, and the skip work together to score points.

Curling Scoring

Each team works together to try and shoot a curling stone across the ice to land on a bullseye known as “the button” in the middle of the target zone known as “the house”. There are three major types of shots performed, including the “takeout” which is used to knock an opponent’s stone out of scoring position. In this sense, lawn games such as bocce and shuffleboard have similar concepts, and curling is even often referred to as “shuffleboard on ice”.

Curling Scoring and Stones

Curling Rules

Different styles of curling can be played with different rulesets. View the latest rules from the World Curling Federation or USA Curling.

Where to Play

Curling is popular internationally in countries such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and Japan, to name a few.

The sport is often played at a curling club in specialized indoor arenas or rinks. The playing surface of a curling match is known as a sheet. Less frequently, curling is played outdoors on frozen ice, especially in colder climates.

The first official Olympic curling event was even held outdoors during the 1924 Olympics in Charmonix, France. Outdoor courts are usually established by curling enthusiasts and hobbyists, but the local pond conditions such as frost can make outdoor matches slightly more difficult for beginners.

In the United States, you can find a local club to start playing through the USA Curling directory. Many clubs even offer classes and instructional courses specifically designed for beginners.

Equipment Needed

Curling gear and equipment consists of curling rocks or stones, brooms, sliders and grooms, and stabilizers. Stones are the objects thrown by the skip, while the sweepers use the other equipment such as a broom to heat the ice and reduce friction.

For a beginner, local clubs usually will offer the equipment listed above, sometimes with an additional rental fee. Curling beginners are also sometimes recommended to wear sneakers or other closed toe shoes.


World Curling Federation

History of Outdoor Curling