Rules and etiquette

The spirit of the “roaring game” includes good sportsmanship, honourable conduct, adherence to the rules, and common courtesy. Curling is one of the few games that are played predominately without officials, so integrity and honesty in following the rules of the game are expected by all teams. The Canadian Curling Association has adopted the following Curlers’ Code of Ethics as an official supplement to the rules of the game as played in Canada. The Curlers’ Code of Ethics is:

  • 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 umpires.
  • 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 the rules of the game.

Some of the rules of the game codify common courtesy – such as standing still when a player on the opposing team is delivering a stone. Other courtesies, or “curling etiquette” that experienced curlers take for granted aren’t listed in the rules. I want to list a few of the important rules, and some common courtesies, here:

Do’s

  • Shake hands with each member of the opposing rink before the coin toss and after each game. Before play begins, the thirds of each team toss a coin to determine last rock advantage in the first end.
  • Be ready to deliver your stone when it’s your turn. If you are the next player to throw, you can stand to the side of the sheet at the delivering end, and wait for the opposing player to deliver their stone. Once that stone is in play, you can pull out your stone from the end of the sheet and be ready to throw when your skip takes control of the rings at the other end.
  • Only thirds should be in the rings when deciding on the score, or during a measure. Don’t put your broom on the ice when measuring a stone; it’s just a safety hazard. If you need to put your broom down, put it down on the backboards.
  • Thirds should agree on the score of the end before any rocks are moved. When agreeing on the score, they should state both the score and colour, as in “3 red!” to make sure there is no misunderstanding about the score.
  • Keep the ice clean. Change your shoes in the locker room, and clean your shoes before going on the ice. The club has a motorized shoe cleaner just inside the door to the ice surface.
  • Be ready to sweep when it is your team’s turn to deliver. Stand at the tee line, to the side of the sheet, to give your teammate the best view of the sheet and the skip’s signals.
  • Once the score of an end has been decided, the skips should go to the other end of the sheet, and the remaining six players should clear the rocks from the house to get ready for the first stone of the next end.
  • Keep the game moving. You should be able to play an end in 15 minutes. If you’re falling behind the other games, pick up the pace.
  • If you accidentally touch a stone with your broom, foot, or any other part of your body, be honest. If the stone was touched before the far hog line, it is removed from play immediately. If it was touched after it crossed the far hog line, allow all of the stones to come to rest. Then admit your mistake to the opposing skip.
  • Be humble, in both winning and losing. Win like you’re used to it; lose like you love it.

Don’ts

  • If you are a lead or second, you cannot stand behind the rings; you must stand between the hog lines when the opposing rink is delivering. Only skips and thirds can stand behind the back line during an end of play.
  • Don’t pull out stones that belong to the other team. It slows down the game, and is the most common cause of teams throwing the wrong colour by mistake. Each team should manage their own stones.
  • Don’t distract your opponent when they are delivering a stone. Stand silent and motionless at the side of the sheet or at the end of the sheet (skips and thirds only). (Aside: the Rules of Curling only require the players behind the back line (skips and/or thirds) to be motionless; otherwise the other players should be “in single file” between the hog lines. You’ll see this if you watch games on TV, when the teams have a time clock to contend with. However, in club play, it is commonly accepted that all players on the non-delivering team should stay motionless when the other team is delivering a stone).
  • Don’t criticize your opponent, or cheer a miss by the other rink. It’s disrespectful. But by all means compliment a good shot. One of the nicest traditions in curling is that players and spectators compliment a good shot by either rink, and not remark on a miss.

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