From Sweeping to Strategy: Understanding the Tactics of Curling

Introduction to Curling Tactics

Curling is a unique sport that requires a combination of physical skill, strategy, and teamwork. In this article, we will explore the tactics used in curling and how they contribute to a team’s success on the ice. From sweeping techniques to strategic shot selection, understanding the intricacies of curling tactics is essential for players and enthusiasts alike. Join us as we delve into the world of curling strategy and uncover the secrets behind this captivating winter sport.

The Basics of Curling

History of Curling

Curling, often referred to as "the roaring game," has a rich history that dates back centuries. Originating in Scotland, it is believed to have been played as early as the 16th century. Initially, it was played outdoors on frozen ponds and lochs, but it has since evolved into a popular indoor sport played on specially designed ice rinks.

Equipment and Playing Surface

Curling requires minimal equipment, making it accessible to people of all ages and skill levels. Players use a specialized broom, known as a curling brush or broom, to sweep the ice, altering the path and speed of the curling stone. The curling stone, also known as a rock, is made of granite and weighs between 38 and 44 pounds (17.24 to 19.96 kilograms). The playing surface, or "sheet," is a rectangular area of ice measuring approximately 150 feet (45.72 meters) in length and 16 feet (4.88 meters) in width.

Rules and Scoring

Curling is a team sport played between two teams, each consisting of four players. The objective of the game is to slide the curling stones towards the target area called the "house" and earn points based on the stones’ proximity to the center. The team with the stone closest to the center of the house at the end of each round scores a point for each stone that is closer to the center than any of the opponent’s stones.

The game consists of a series of ends, which are similar to innings in baseball or quarters in basketball. Each team takes turns delivering two stones per end, and the team with the highest score after a predetermined number of ends wins the game. Additional rules govern the positioning of stones, the use of sweeping techniques, and the handling of strategic elements, making curling a captivating and intricate sport to play and watch.

Curling has gained global recognition and has been part of the Winter Olympics since 1924. Its unique blend of skill, strategy, and teamwork has made it a beloved sport for both participants and spectators alike. Whether you’re new to curling or a seasoned enthusiast, understanding the basics of the game sets the foundation for an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Curling Techniques and Strategy

Sweeping and Brushing Techniques

Sweeping and brushing are crucial elements in the sport of curling. These techniques play a significant role in the overall strategy and success of a team.

In sweeping, the players use brooms to vigorously brush the ice in front of a moving curling stone. This sweeping action helps to melt the ice slightly, creating a thin layer of water that reduces friction. By reducing friction, the stone can travel farther and straighter.

Proper sweeping technique involves positioning the broom at a specific angle and applying the right amount of pressure. The sweeping motion should be smooth and consistent, with the aim of generating maximum heat and friction reduction. It requires teamwork and coordination among the sweepers to maintain a steady pace and optimal brushing position.

Stone Delivery and Releases

Stone delivery and releases are fundamental aspects of curling technique. The way a player delivers the stone and releases it can greatly impact its trajectory and final resting position.

During stone delivery, the player slides on the ice, known as the "hack," and pushes the stone forward while maintaining balance and control. It is crucial to have a consistent and repeatable delivery technique to ensure accuracy and precision.

The release of the stone is equally important. Players must release the stone in a controlled manner, with a gentle rotation to create the desired curl. The angle, speed, and rotation of the release can determine the stone’s path and how it interacts with other stones already in play.

Team Strategy and Communication

Curling is not just about individual technique; it also requires effective team strategy and communication. A well-coordinated team can outmaneuver opponents and gain a strategic advantage.

Team strategy involves planning and executing shots to achieve the desired outcome. This includes deciding which stones to target, where to place guards or blockers, and when to make aggressive shots or defensive plays. The skip, who acts as the team’s captain, plays a crucial role in strategy development and decision-making.

Communication is key during gameplay. Players need to constantly communicate with each other to relay information about stone placement, weight, and line. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and can make necessary adjustments to the strategy as the game progresses.

In conclusion, mastering sweeping and brushing techniques, stone delivery and releases, as well as effective team strategy and communication are essential for success in the sport of curling. By understanding and implementing these tactics, teams can enhance their performance and increase their chances of achieving victory.

Advanced Curling Tactics

Guarding and Takeouts

Guarding and takeouts are two advanced tactics used in curling to gain an advantage over the opponent. These tactics require precision and strategic thinking to execute effectively.


Guarding involves placing a stone in front of the house (the target area) to protect valuable stones or to prevent the opponent from achieving their desired shot. This tactic creates a barrier that forces the opponent to change their strategy or attempt difficult shots.

To effectively guard, the curling team needs to carefully consider the placement of the stone. It should be positioned in a way that blocks the opponent’s access to the house while also leaving room for their own team’s future shots. Communication and coordination among team members are crucial to ensure the guard is placed accurately.


Takeouts are shots aimed at removing the opponent’s stones from play. This tactic is used to eliminate any threats or strategically positioned stones that may hinder the team’s progress. Takeouts require precision, power, and careful consideration of the angles and positioning of the stones.

To execute a successful takeout, the curling team must carefully analyze the target stone and plan the shot accordingly. They need to determine the optimal angle and force required to remove the opponent’s stone while maintaining the desired position for their own stones. Clear communication among team members is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and executes the shot effectively.

Freeze Shots and Draws

Freeze shots and draws are advanced curling tactics used to gain control over the positioning of the stones and create scoring opportunities. These shots require finesse, accuracy, and a deep understanding of the ice conditions.

Freeze Shots

A freeze shot involves sliding a stone to stop in close proximity to another stone already in play. The objective is to create a locked position where the stones are touching or nearly touching, making it difficult for the opponent to remove them without disturbing their own stones.

Executing a successful freeze shot requires precise weight control and reading the ice conditions accurately. The curling team needs to anticipate the amount of curl and adjust their shot accordingly to achieve the desired freeze position. Communication between the thrower and sweepers is crucial to ensure the stone reaches its intended location.


Draw shots are used to place a stone accurately within the house, either to score points or to create a strategic advantage. These shots require finesse and the ability to accurately judge the weight and line of the shot.

To execute a draw shot effectively, the curling team must consider factors such as the ice conditions, the desired position of the stone, and the strategy for the end. The thrower needs to deliver the stone with the right weight and line, while the sweepers control the speed and direction to guide the stone to its destination. Precise communication and coordination among team members are essential for a successful draw shot.

Bumps and Raises

Bumps and raises are advanced curling tactics used to manipulate the position of stones already in play. These shots involve redirecting stones to create new scoring opportunities or to remove opponent’s stones from advantageous positions.


A bump shot is executed by gently tapping an already positioned stone to alter its position or redirect its path. This tactic is often used to create angles or to remove opponent’s stones from desirable positions. Bump shots require precise weight control and the ability to read the ice conditions accurately.

To execute a successful bump shot, the curling team needs to determine the ideal weight and angle required to achieve the desired outcome. Communication among team members is crucial to ensure the stone is delivered with the right force and direction.


Raise shots involve using one stone to push another stone into a more advantageous position. This tactic is often employed to promote a team’s own stone into the scoring area or to remove opponent’s stones from scoring positions. Raises require precise weight control and a deep understanding of angles and stone interactions.

To execute a successful raise shot, the curling team needs to carefully analyze the positioning of the stones and determine the ideal weight and angle required to achieve the desired result. Accurate communication and coordination among team members are essential to execute the raise shot effectively.

By implementing these advanced curling tactics of guarding and takeouts, freeze shots and draws, and bumps and raises, teams can gain a strategic edge over their opponents. These tactics require precision, communication, and a deep understanding of the game, making them essential skills for any curling team looking to excel in their gameplay.

In conclusion, understanding the tactics of curling goes beyond the simple act of sweeping. It involves a strategic approach that includes reading the ice, analyzing the opponent’s moves, and making calculated shots. By mastering these tactics, curlers can gain a competitive edge and improve their chances of success on the curling sheet. Whether you are a casual observer or an aspiring curler, delving into the intricacies of this sport can offer a deeper appreciation for the skill and strategy involved. So next time you watch a curling match, take a moment to admire the tactics at play and marvel at the precision and teamwork required to excel in this unique winter sport.