The Etiquette

The Spirit of Curling

Curling is a game of skill and tradition. A shot well executed is a delight to see and it is also a fine thing to observe the time-honoured traditions being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers play to win but, but never to humble their opponents. A true curler never attempts to distract opponents, nor to prevent them from playing their best, and would prefer to lose rather than to win unfairly.

Curlers never knowingly break the rules of the game, nor disrespect any of its traditions. Should they become aware that this has been done inadvertently, they will be the first to divulge the breach.

While the main object of curling is to determine the relative skill of the players, the spirit of curling demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honourable conduct.

This spirit should influence both the interpretation and the application of the rules of the game and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice.

Rules of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, 2011 - 2012

Curlers place a strong value on etiquette- for many, the observance of the courtesies of the game is more important than winning or losing. The above quote appears in the governing body's rule book before anything else, evidencing its importance. Knowing what the manners of the game are, though, can seem a daunting task for new players. This guide is designed to educate beginners in the intricacies of politeness in curling. It is not an exhaustive guide, and the general principle of common sense should always be applied- if what you are doing would annoy you, don't do it. Don't worry about remembering everything here- it is intended as a reference, and the more you play, the more it will stick.


Before the Game

  1. Make sure you have contact details for your team mates. If you are going to have to withdraw, let both them and the Secretary know in advance. They will help you find a replacement. If you are simply going to be late, let the skip know - games should start when scheduled and if you arrive late without warning, seven other players may waste a lot of time waiting for you and your team can incur a penalty.
  2. Ensure your shoes and brush-head are clean. Fibers shed from either on the ice can affect the course of the stones - remember, your shots could be affected just as much as your opponents'.
  3. If you are the lead, it's handy to have a coin with you. The leads' conduct a coin toss at the beginning of the game to ensure who has the hammer. However, if no one has a coin, a stone is often spun in place of a coin toss.
  4. Offer handshakes and "good curling" first to your opponents and then to your team mates. If you wear gloves when curling, please remove them before shaking hands!


During the Game

  1. If you do arrive late to a game, do not join in until the current end has been completed - even if only a few stones have been played. Apologise to the other players and offer handshakes and "good curling".
  2. When your opponents' are delivering, do not do anything which might distract them. Stand between the hog lines, right to the side of the sheet. If you are the next to throw, you may stand in the hack area, again off to the side, but ensure you do not disrupt your opponent's shot. Skips should stand in the back of the head, motionless and with their brush held either horizontally, or vertically behind them.
  3. Do not cross the sheet in front of a player in the hack or in the process of delivery. Either wait until the shot has come to a rest or cross behind him.
  4. If you are the next to deliver, begin preparing the moment the opposition stone is in motion. Clean off your stone (to avoid pick-ups) and have it ready in front of the hack, and ensure you have your slider on (or gripper off). You should be ready to deliver the moment the opposition stone has stopped.
  5. If you are supposed to be sweeping, be ready and in position, on the correct side of the sheet.
  6. When walking back after sweeping, keep to the side of the sheet. This way, the pebble in the centre will not wear out so quickly.
  7. When it is the skip's turn to play, the lead should prepare their stone for them to save time. Clean it off and place it in front of the hack.
  8. Vice skips alone decide the score. When the end has been completed, do not clear the stones until you know that this has been agreed upon or measured.
  9. Let your skip do his job. You are entitled to offer advice and debate but do not do so for every shot - this will slow down the play. Restrict your advice to key decisions, such as where you feel unable to make the shot suggested. Once the shot has been called, that is it - defer to your skip and play what he requests. Do not change the shot to what you yourself wish to play!
  10. Equally, skips should avoid over-long deliberation and conferences with thirds over shots, though you can take your time over the big shots.
  11. If you inadvertently moved a stationary stone, even if only a few centimetres, declare that you have done so immediately. It is for the opposing skip to replace it to his satisfaction.
  12. Pay attention to your own game. Do not become distracted by other games around you.
  13. Do not use your mobile phone, or any similar device, on the ice!
  14. It is customary for some teams to bring some sweets or other small snacks to eat during the game. If you do this, ensure all food is kept at the ends of the sheet on the tables provided. Avoid eating or drinking while on the ice surface.


After the Game

  1. When the full number of ends has been played, or one skip has conceded, shake hands with your opponents (with gloves off) and offer sincere congratulations or commiserations.
  2. Leave the sheet as you would hope to find it. Replace the stones at the side of one of the hacks, in numerical order. Remove all litter and personal effects and replace the score markers.
  3. The winners are, by custom, expected to offer to buy their counterparts a drink. The sociability and camaraderie of the game is important and you should only decline the drink if you urgently have to leave. Once the first drink has been consumed, the losers should offer to return the favour. Ensure you have money with you to buy yourself and your counterpart one drink.


Most of all, though, enjoy the game. Good curling!

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