Curling Etiquette, basic rules, code of ethics (updated)


Curling is a sport that prides itself on proper etiquette, and ethics and, as a game with few officials, knowledge and adherence to the rules of the game. We have put together a list of some of the standard etiquette, important rules, and the code of ethics for the sport.

Code of Ethics

Curling has its rules governing play, but equally as important is the way you conduct yourself while curling. This is outlined in the Curlers’ Code of Ethics that is part of the rulebook:

  • 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.


Here are some of the key items of proper curling etiquette:

  • Curlers are expected to be on time for their game, and to ensure that they find a spare in the event that they cannot be there. Arrive at least 15 minutes before game time. If you can’t find a spare, let the skip know  (in plenty of time) – perhaps he/she can help out. If something comes up at the last minute and you can’t be there, phone the Club or your skip – sometimes they can pick up someone at the last minute who happens to be there. Also let them know if you are stuck in traffic and will be a few minutes late, so they will know not to look for someone else.
  • Start the game on time, even if it means beginning with three players
  • If a team cannot be there, and has to default, they are required to call the other team and the Club to let them know. Multiple defaults may result in a team not being allowed to continue in the league.
  • Shake hands with your opponents before and after each game.Wish them “good curling” at the start of the game.
  • Opposing players (generally the thirds) will toss a coin at the start of the game to determine last stone advantage.
  • When your opponents are preparing for delivery, stand to the side of the sheet, single file and between the hog lines. Move only after the stone has been released.
  • If you are standing on the sidelines, and you see that the other team is throwing their next rock on your side, close to the edge of the sheet, give them some room by moving to the sidelines on the other side (but before the skip delivers the rock!)
  • If you are throwing next you may stand on the backboard, but remain quiet and out of sight of the opposition thrower
  • One sweeper behind the tee line.  Arrange with your team mate who will continue to sweep once the rock is behind the tee line. The team delivering the rock has 1st privilege of sweeping its own rock, but must not obstruct or prevent their opponent from sweeping.
  • Only skips and thirds may congregate behind the tee line. They do not move or hold their brooms on the ice while the opposition is preparing to deliver a stone.If your team leads off on any particular end, the lead should gather his or her rock and get in the hack, clean the stone, and begin the pre-shot routine. The second and third should put the rocks away in a single line along the edge of the sheet. It is not necessary to put the rocks in order and doing so wastes time.
  • Never cross in front of a player who is in the hack and about to deliver a stone.
  • When you have finished sweeping your team’s rock and  are walking back down the sheet, keep to the edge, and walk in single-file. Remember that the other team will be throwing their rock and the sight lines down the sheet should be clear. You should avoid stepping onto or walking up and down the sheet of ice next to the one you are playing on if it is in use.
  • Curling etiquette dictates that you cheer on successes, and use discretion when someone misses a shot, either on your own team or on the opposing one. Compliment players on both teams for a good shot. Do not show your frustration at an opponent’s “lucky” shot or a teammate’s poor shot. No swearing, trash-talking, or broom-slamming!
  • Be ready to go when it’s your turn to deliver a stone. A few lost seconds each time will add up!
  • At the conclusion of an end, all players remain outside the rings until the opposing thirds have agreed on the score.
  • It is the third’s responsibility to put up the score for their own team immediately on completion of an end, and to update the results on the draw board at the completion of the match. If there is a big score in an end, it is courtesy to delay the posting of the score until the opposing team wins an end.
  • A buzzer system is used at the Cornwall Curling Club and most other curling facilities. Two hours are allotted for an eight end game, and a buzzer will sound when there are approximately 15 minutes left. At that point, you are required to finish the end you are on, bring your rocks back to the near end, and end the game.
  • At the Cornwall Curling Club, the losing team sweeps the ice after a game (it’s not usually necessary to sweep it after the late draw, as the ice will be worked on in the morning). This includes putting the hack covers on (green carpet) so that the maintenance crew can pebble the ice more easily. They are also required to sweep the ice after a practice session. If you are at another club or in a tournament, there may be people assigned to sweep the ice, so check out what happens in earlier games
  • You may see curlers “setting up” rocks for the other team after they have thrown theirs. This was something that was done as a courtesy years ago, but it no longer encouraged. Rather than speeding up the game, it often slows it down, as they may pick the wrong rock. As well, it can be dangerous, if the curler is not expecting the rock to be there, and accidentally trips on it.
  • If you do want to help speed up the game, a front end team member setting up a rock in front of the hack for their OWN teammates is a great idea. It will cut a few seconds off delivery time, as the player delivering doesn’t have to get the rock.
  • If your team leads off on any particular end, the lead should gather his or her rock and get in the hack, clean the stone, and begin the pre-shot routine. The second and third should put the rocks away along the edge of the sheet. It is not necessary to put the rocks in order and doing so wastes time.
  • Ensure curling equipment is clean to prevent debris from falling on the ice surface. Change your slip-on grippers annually, as they start to deteriorate and can shed debris. Don’t wear jewelry that is likely to fall off and impede the rock. Do not wear your curling shoes anywhere else! Use the boot cleaners before entering the ice house.
  • Do not leave your fingers, palm of your hand, or your knee on the ice, as this results in “flat” spots in the ice.
  • If you see hairs (less prevalent now that most brushes use pads) or dirt on the ice please pick them up and deposit them off the ice or to the side or end of the sheet. This will  help minimize “picks”.
  • Keep your equipment out of the way to the back of the backboards so that nobody trips over it.
  • Although the practice is less common in Western Canada, here in the East it is customary for the winning team to offer to buy a drink for the member in the same position on the opposing team. If you were the recipient of the drink, it is a good idea to return the favour in the second round.

Important Rules for Play

For a complete list of rules, you can download the Rules of Curling for General (club) play, and order the Official Rule book at these links:


  • A stone must finish inside the inner edge (closest to the rings) of the hog line to be in play, except when it has hit another stone in play.
  • A stone that completely crosses the back line or touches the side board or side line is taken out of play.


  • Right-handed players deliver from the hack to the left of the centre line and left-handed players deliver from the hack to the right of the centre line. Any player may deliver from a hack on the centre line.
  • The stone shall be released before it reaches the hog line at the delivering end.
  • A stone that has not been released from the player’s hand may be returned to the hack and re-delivered as long as it has not reached the near tee line during delivery.
  • If a player delivers a stone out of proper order, and the mistake is not noted until after the stone has come to rest or hit another stone, the stone is in play. The player missing his turn will throw his stone as the last one for his team on that end. If the skips can’t agree who missed his turn, then the lead of the team that made the mistake will throw the last stone for his team in that end.


  • Only one player from each team may sweep behind the tee line. Only the skip or third of the non-delivering team may sweep behind the tee line.
  • An opposing team’s stone may only be swept behind the tee line.
  • The delivering team has first right to sweep its stone behind the tee line, but shall not prevent the non-delivering team from doing so.
  • Only the skip or third of the non-delivering team may sweep their stones set in motion by the delivering team.
  • Given that the intent of sweeping is to keep the path of the stone clean and to take the stone farther, there must be brush head movement in the sweeping motion.
  • The sweeping motion shall not leave any debris in front of a moving stone.
  • The final sweeping motion shall finish outside the path of the stone.
  • If a stone in motion is touched by any player of the delivering team or his equipment before the far hog line, it shall be immediately removed from play. If the infraction occurs after the stone reaches the far hog line, the non-offending team has the option to remove the touched stone and replace all stones that were displaced after the infraction to their original positions; or leave all stones where they come to rest; or place all stones where it reasonably considers the stones would have come to rest had the moving stone not been touched.
  • If a stationary stone is moved by any player the non-offending team shall replace the stone as close as possible to its original position. If there is any question as to which stone(s) was closer to the button, the displaced stone is placed in favour of the non-offending team.


  • Measurements shall be taken from the button to the nearest part of the rock.
  • No physical device may be used in measuring rocks until the last rock of the end has come to rest, except to determine if one of the first two rocks of an end is in the rings or the free guard zone.
  • If there is any doubt between the two opposing skips as to whether one of the first three rocks of an end finishes in the free guard zone, then a measuring device may be used to decide the matter.


  • No player shall use any footwear or equipment that may damage the surface of the ice.
  • At the start of a game, each curler must declare which broom or brush he will be using for sweeping. Brushes may be exchanged between players on the same team, but a corn broom cannot be exchanged.
Post last modified: Dec 6, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

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