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The sport of curling has become popular over the last few years because of the intense games played at the Winter Olympics every four years. Curling is a game of tactics played on ice, with teams competing as foursomes and mixed pairs. Curling is an ancient sport that has remained popular in Northern European Countries and North America. The popularity of the sport was given a boost over the last three decades by coverage of the sport at the Winter Olympics.

A history in Scotland

Curling originated in Scotland, where the brutal Winter months left the locals bored and unhealthy. The frozen lochs and rivers of northern Scotland made the perfect location for curling to originate in the 16th-century. The initial game was a simple one with stones slid across a frozen lake towards a target, with the closest to the target winning the point. Curling quickly became a popular sport in Scotland and the popular handled stones came into play 100 years later.

How do you play Curling?

The debut of curling at the Winter Olympics in 1998 made the sport a success because of the easy-to-understand rules and gameplay. The required items for curling include:

  • ice
  • stones
  • targets
  • brooms

Curling takes place on the ice, with a target positioned at each end of the rink. The aim of the game is to slide a large stone as close to the bullseye of the target as possible. Each team takes a turn to slide their stone towards the target, with the winner of each end awarded points for each stone they land closer to the target than their opponent.

Why is a broom used?

A commonly asked question about curling is, why do teams sweep the ice. Each team nominates a captain or skipper who has the task of forming their team’s strategy. Throughout a game, water droplets form on the ice and can slow the movement of each stone. By sweeping the ice, teams move the water droplets to allow a smooth movement towards their desired location.

During a game, a team will play blocking stones that make it difficult to score points. Moving blocking stones is done by smashing into them at high speed. Teams will brush the ice at high speed to make sure their stone has the correct speed capable of moving an opponent out of the way.

The broom has a multitude of uses, including being used to aim towards the target. Players lay their broom on the bullseye as a visual target to be used by their teammates as they slide a stone. Another option is to sweep away water droplets to create the curve needed to slide around stones.

How do you score points?

The aim of curling is to score more points than your opponent. The rules of curling have been standardized for the Olympics. Each team has eight stones played alternately with their opponent to complete each end. After each end, the referee decides which stones are closest to the target. The referee adds one point to the score of the winning team for every stone that settles within their opponent’s closest stone. In theory, each team has the ability to score eight points per end.

The vocabulary of Curling

There are several words used in curling that need to be understood by every player. The water droplets on the ice are referred to as pebbles by players and officials. Another term is the “house”, which refers to the target area the teams are trying to reach. Players also talk about the button that lay at the center of the house.

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