Curling... What the Heck?

Photo: WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Are you here because you're curious about curling, even though you don't play the sport? You’ve probably seen it on TV, with the rocks, and the sweeping, and the yelling. My goodness, so much yelling.

Do you find yourself watching the TV curlers and wondering what the heck is going on? Maybe you’re too embarrassed to ask your questions about curling, or maybe you just don’t know any curlers to ask.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. The Shelburne Curling Club is preparing for the new season by answering the questions we keep hearing about curling. From terminology, to strategy, to whether it's even really a sport... we've got your answers.

So go ahead and check back here often, as we have lots of questions to go through. Better yet, Like Us on Facebook to stay up to date on new posts. If you have any burning curling questions you want answered, feel free to post them in the comments here or on Facebook.

Get The Answers Live and In Person

Of course, while these posts will be fun, it’s not nearly as much fun as getting out on the ice and just giving it a try. The Shelburne Curling Club is offering a chance for everyone to do that, for FREE, during the “Learn to Curl” sessions happening from October 22-26 at 7 pm. You'll get instruction on the basics from our experienced curlers, and yes, they can answer any questions you might have.

To sign up, go to or call the club at (519)-925-2011.

If You Already Know the Answers

A quick word to our current curlers. We know you know the answers to these questions. But we also bet you’ve heard at least some of these questions before from your friends and family. So go ahead and spread the curling knowledge. Share these posts with your friends, and tag people you think need to read this.

Let's Get Started

We will just answer one little question for today. It's one we actually get more than you might think, and a great place to start.

Q: Maybe this is a silly question, but why is it called “curling”?

A: Not a silly question at all! Until you have closely observed some curling shots, the answer isn’t obvious.

You see, when a player throws a curling rock, they will gently turn the handle just before letting go. This makes the rock rotate as it travels down the sheet of ice. (If you aren’t prone to motion sickness, you can see this rotation from the view of a camera attached to the rock itself.)

This rotation then combines with friction from the ice to send the rock on a curved path rather than a straight line… in other words it "curls"!

These curling rocks are what really make the game interesting. Simply aiming your shot well isn’t the only key to success. The skips (team captains who literally “call the shots”) must be able to “read the ice,” since how much a stone curls will change with different ice conditions (which can change even during a game!) and different types of shots (for instance, harder shots tend to curl less). The curl factor also makes exciting shots possible, such as tucking a stone behind another that is sitting out front, or even something fancy like an angled double takeout. Curling truly is a strategy game!

But don’t worry if you’re not a physics whiz and don’t quite understand that all. You can still enjoy curling! Your skip will figure out the best shots and tell you where to aim. If the strategy part interests you, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn as you play.

Step one is just getting out and throwing some rocks, seeing if you can get the hang of making them curl. Our "Learn to Curl" sessions give you a chance to do just that, with no risk or obligation. We hope to see you out on the ice!

Shelburne Curling Club

Our Club offers an outstanding combination of competitive and fun curling, as well as numerous social events for our members and guests .


110 O'Flynn Street

Shelburne, ON L9V 2W9

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