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Curling Etiquette, Part I

Editor: Chris Daffern
Date: 2014-02-09

CURLING ETIQUETTE … the unwritten rules (Part I)

Curling has its rules governing play, but equally as important is the way you conduct yourself while curling.  From the Canadian Curling Association’s “Curler’s Code of Ethics”, here are the fundamental principles of ethical play.

“I will play the game with a spirit of good sportsmanship.

I will conduct myself in an honourable manner both on and off the ice.

I will never knowingly break a rule, but if I do, I will divulge the breach.

I will take no action that could be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate or demean my opponents, teammates or officials.

I will interpret the rules in an impartial manner, always keeping in mind that the purpose of the rules is to ensure that the game is played in an orderly and fair manner.

I will humbly accept any penalty that the governing body at any level of curling deems appropriate, if I am found in violation of the Code of Ethics or rules of the game.”  (The governing body may be your curling club, your provincial association or the CCA.)

In 2012-2013, Curling Coaches’ Corner focused on some of the rules of competition for general play and roles of players.  This season, we start with specific etiquette practices that have evolved over time, continue to evolve, and which distinguish this sport from many others.


Be on time! Get to the Club at least 15 minutes before your scheduled start time. When you are late, you are holding up seven other players. Delays are upsetting to your opponents and your own team. If you know you’ll be unavoidably late, inform your team in advance or call the Club if it is a last minute delay and you are unable to reach a teammate.

There may be occasions when you are not able to curl as scheduled. GET A SPARE! In non-competitive, recreational leagues, this is your responsibility, not your skip’s. But call your skip and give the name of the spare. No shows are no no’s and disrespectful to your team.

Every game starts with a handshake. At the beginning of the game, greet members of the opposing team with a handshake, introduce yourself, and wish them “good curling”.

The opposing thirds/vices will usually toss a coin or spin the wheel before the start of the game. The winning team has the right to choose to throw first or second rock to start the game. (The team that will be throwing the first rock of the game has choice of handle colour.)

Check out your equipment. Keep the ice clean. Make sure your shoes are clean. Sand, grit, dirt and rock salt or ice melter are the ice’s worst enemies. The shoes you wear should only be used for curling.

Check your grippers regularly and replace as needed. Grippers are known to wear down and can leave bits of rubber on the ice. This is a “pick” and can ruin a shot. But most important, a worn down or poorly fitting gripper is hazardous and unsafe. A general rule of thumb is to be prepared to go through as many grippers during a season as the number of games you typically play in a week. Play one game a week, one gripper may do. But play four times weekly, expect to use four grippers over the season.

Make sure your brush heads are clean and not wearing down. When needed, from time to time through the season, give your brush head a good cleaning with soap and water and a light scrubbing with a nail brush. If needed, replace your brush head; you’ll know when the fabric becomes smooth or shiny. If you are still sweeping with a traditional style broom, make sure it is not shedding straw or hairs. When your broom does, it is likely time to replace it.

(For more on “picks”, see the CCA’s posting www.curling.ca/2009/02/21/picks-on-your-curling-ice.)

Before stepping on the ice and practice sliding, ensure the ice staff has finished prepping the ice for play. Generally, when the score cards have been removed from the scoreboard, your sheet of ice should be ready - - unless you see the ice staff still at work, in which case stay off the ice and out of their way. Respect the work of the ice team. A whole lot of effort and know-how goes into creating quality playing conditions. Say thanks from time to time. They’ll appreciate the recognition.

Pre-game practice? This varies from club to club. In some clubs, the protocol is to permit pre-game practice only within twenty minutes or so before the scheduled start of the game with each team having ten to fifteen minutes on your scheduled sheet of ice. Other clubs may insist you practice on another sheet of ice from the one you will be playing on. If you do not know the local protocol, ask your skip or league convenor. If you arrive early and want to throw a few stones to practice or warm up, by all means do so. Best practice is to warm up before the game with controlled stretching exercises and light cardio. inside the club and practice slides.



There’s a lot of etiquette involved during play but for now, let’s jump to the end of the game. Play has finished, the result is known. Now what?

Finish with a handshake. When the game is over, offer each player a hearty handshake and, win, lose or draw, “Thanks for the game”, “Good game”, “Congratulations” or “Well played” and leave the ice.

But before leaving the ice, arrange the rocks in order in the boxes for the rocks painted into the ice or follow whatever instructions the ice team has asked of you.

After every game, join your opponents in the lounge for a refreshment and socialize. Practices may vary across the country but typically the winning team offers to buy the first round. The other team should reciprocate with the second round. Talk about the game, the strategy and shots called, but more importantly, talk about your work, your family, your past. You may be amazed on how well you will connect.

Have an interest in improving the world of curling? Have a look at the CCA’s “10 Ways We Can Change The Curling World” posted at www.curling.ca/10-ways-we-can-change-the-cuurling-world.

Stay tuned for Etiquette, Part II.



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