Curling 101: Glossary


How to speak curling, broken down into categories.


Who shoots first and what does the skip do? Learn who makes up a curling team.


Another name for a curling team. It is made up of four players: the lead, the second, the third and the skip.


The first player who shoots for a team in each end.


The player who shoots second for a team in each end.


The player that shoots third in each end. The third is also often the vice-skip. 


The person who stands in the house and directs the game when the skip is shooting. When the skip shoots, the vice-skip holds the broom as the target. The vice-skip is often the third.


The leader of a curling team. He directs the team’s strategy and shot selection and typically holds a broom as a target for the other three players to shoot at. He usually shoots last.


The player who shoots fourth for a team in each end. Normally the person who shoots fourth is the skip. This term is only used if that person is not the skip.

Playing area

Where does the skip release the stone and where does he want it to stop? Learn the terms for each part of the curling sheet.

Back line

The line at the back of the house. Rocks completely beyond the line are out of play.


The 1-foot circle at the center of the house.

Center line

The line splitting the length of the ice sheet.

Free Guard Zone

The area between the hog line (the line behind which a player must release a stone) and the house. During the first four stones of an end, no stone in this area may be removed from play by the opposition.


The rubber foothold where curlers begin their delivery. It is located 125 feet from the center of the house.

Hog line

The line behind which a player must release a stone. It is located 21 feet from the tee. If a stone does not travel beyond the far hog line, it is removed from play.


The circular scoring area. It is 12 feet in diameter and is made up of four concentric circles. The outside ring is 12 feet in diameter, the next ring is eight feet in diameter, the next ring is four feet in diameter and the inside ring is one foot in diameter. 


Another term for the house.


The playing area. It is 146 feet long and allows play in both directions.


The center of the house. Scoring is determined by which rock is closest to the tee. Also commonly referred to as the “pin.”



How do ice conditions affect the game? Learn why not all curling ice is created equal.

Heavy Ice

Slow ice. It means the rocks have to be thrown harder. The opposite of keen ice.

Keen Ice

Fast ice. Rocks must be thrown less hard in these conditions. The opposite of heavy ice.


The droplets of water applied to a sheet of ice before a game. They freeze and reduce friction between the stone and the ice.

Straight ice

A condition in which the ice does not cause the stones to curl very much.

“Swingy” Ice

A condition in which the ice causes the stones to curl a lot.


What’s the difference between a shot rock and a burned rock? Learn how to refer to a stone in play.


A stone just touching the outer edge of the house. It could potentially score a point.


A slang term for the last stone of an end.


When a rock is removed from play because of an infraction. It is known as “a burned rock.”


Any stone in the house. It is a potential point.


A rock between the hog line and the house used to prevent the opposition from hitting a rock in the house.


The last stone shot in each end.


The rotation applied to the stone upon release.


A stone that fails to reach the far hog line and is removed from play.


The term for a rock that has been thrown too hard.


The term for a rock that has been thrown with too little force.


A rock delivered inside the intended line of delivery.


Also known as a stone. Curling stones are made of a rare, dense granite that is quarried on Scotland’s Ailsa Craig. The stones weigh, on average, 42 pounds (19.1 kg) and are polished.

Shot rock

At any time during an end, the stone that is closest to the tee.

Straight handle

A stone that is released without any rotation.


A rock delivered outside the intended line.


Was that a draw or a peel? Learn how to refer to the different kinds of curling shots.


A scoring shot. It is designed to stop inside or in front of the house.


A form of a draw that stops in front of and next to another rock.


Generally, a shot designed to take out an opponent’s rock and then roll the shot rock to a designated spot. It is also possible to play a hit-and-roll off the team’s own rock.


A shot in which the front of the player’s hand is facing away from the body when the player finishes his delivery. For a right-handed player, the rock will curl from left to right.


A shot in which the back of the player’s hand is facing away from the body when the player finishes his delivery. For a right-handed player, the rock will curl from right to left.


A shot to remove a guard or guards.


The slang term for a rock getting knocked off-line by a foreign object on the ice. The term comes from the phrase, “the rock picked something up.” It is almost always used as a verb – “My rock picked on that last shot.” 


A type of draw that knocks another rock into the house.


A type of shot that removes another rock from play.

Double takeout

A takeout shot that clears two opposing stones from the house.

Other terms

More curling terms to know.

Blank end

An end in which no points are scored.

Bonspiels (BAHN-shpeel)

Curling tournaments.


The curve the stone makes as it travels down the ice.


The motion of the curler as the stone is being shot.

Draw Shot Challenge

The calculation made by taking the average distance of the Last Stone Draws (LSD), excluding the least favorable LSD, and used, if required, to assist in the determination of ranking after a round robin.


Similar to an inning in baseball. One end is complete when all 16 rocks – two per person, eight per team in men’s and women’s curling, and five per team in mixed doubles – have been shot. The score is determined at the conclusion of each end. Games are made up of 10 ends for men’s and women’s curling and eight ends for mixed doubles.

Extra End

An additional end played to break a tie at the end of regulation.


A command which instructs players to sweep harder.

Last stone draw

A contest conducted before every round robin game in which each team delivers a single stone to the tee, or “pin,” at the home end. The resulting distance is measured and can be used to determine which team has the choice of delivering the first or second stone in the first end.


The space between two lying stones, large enough for another to pass through.


To score in an end when not shooting the last stone (i.e. the hammer).


The amount of force with which a rock is shot.

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