Two teams face off in a game of curling, which takes place on a sheet of ice 146 feet (44.5 meters) long and 15 feet, 7 inches (4.75 meters) wide. Four people compete together as a team. Team members try to shoot the granite rock, or stone, to the target area, called the house. During pre-game preparations, the ice is sprayed with droplets of water to form pebbles on the surface, enabling the stones to curl.
The ice surface allows for play in both directions, which means the symmetrical surface has a house at each end. The house is made up of four concentric circles: the center one is 12 inches (.30 meters) in diameter, the next one is 4 feet (1.22 meters), the next 8 feet (2.44 meters) and the outside one 12 feet (3.66 meters). The outside circle marks the border of the house.
The object is to place the rock as close as possible to the house's center, called the tee. A team scores one point for each stone it places closer to the center of the house than the opponent's best rock. The team with the most points at the conclusion of the game wins.
A curling game consists of 10 ends, similar to innings in baseball. During an end, each team member shoots two rocks, alternatively with the opponent's. When all 16 rocks have been shot, the end concludes and the score is calculated. Only one team can score per end. Teams switch directions at the conclusion of each end.
Players start the stone by pushing off from a rubber foothold called a hack, located 126 feet (38.4 meters) from the tee at the far end of the ice. They then slide behind the stone to aim it. Competitors must release the stone before the hog line, 33 feet (10.1 meters) from the hack and 21 feet (6.4 meters) from each tee. The stone needs to cross the far hog line to stay in play.
The lead takes the first shot on each team. The second, third (vice skip) and skip follow suit. The skip acts as the team's leader, choosing the shot selection, reading the ice and directing teammates. Players participate in every shot, with one shooting, one holding the broom and two sweeping. After delivering two stones, a player joins a teammate in sweeping for the other team members.
Shot Selection **Show video of sweeping
Teams call different shots, including the draw, or when a stone stops in the scoring area; the guard, or when a stone stops in front of a rock in scoring position; or the takeout, when a stone physically knocks an opposing team's stone from its position. Teams choose shots that will allow them to get the stone closer to the tee than the nearest opponent's rock.
The stones curls, or curves, down the ice as a result from the twist given to it during the delivery. The ice surface and the speed of the rock also alter the amount of curl. The curl allows team members to control the stone.
While the stone travels, the two sweepers brush the ice in front of it, making the rock travel up to 15 feet (4.6 meters) further and go straighter (curl less). Competitors sweep the sheet's surface with straw, synthetic or short-bristled brush, polishing the ice and removing any debris. Sweeping slightly melts the ice, reducing the friction between the stone and the rink's surface.
Before the player delivers the stone, the skip moves to the house at the far end of the ice, indicating with a broom the spot at which the stones should be aimed. The skip judges the rock's speed after a team member has delivered it. The skip will yell “sweep” if the stone looks like it will fall short of the target. The other two team members will then move ahead of the sliding stone to sweep the ice with brooms. The skip tells the team when to stop sweeping.