Curling: A Sport with a Language All Its Own
I recently read a great article about the slang that hockey players use.   It was hilarious – as someone who grew up in Canada and played a bit of hockey, it brought back some memories.  But as someone who lives in New Zealand (where they would call the game ‘ice hockey’ – to better distinguish it from ‘real hockey’ (!)), I also know that a Kiwi reader of hockey slang would have a double-strength total-blank stare trying to comprehend anything.

That article got me thinking about our favourite sport (yes, back to curling now!).

I’ve been playing the sport for a very long time now.  Over the years, curling slang has evolved, as any language does.

But our sport has something really special going for it – something that as players and fans I think that we massively under-appreciate.

Curling is about the only sport I can think of where the fan on TV can hear what the players are saying during actual game play.

Think about that for a moment.   We don’t hear LeBron calling a switch on defence.  We don’t hear Russell Martin calling ‘turn two’ or ‘throw to one’.  We don’t hear Babcock in Nylander’s ear after a lazy shift.

But in curling – we get the whole shooting match.   Benny Heebz telling Kevin Koe exactly what he thinks.   Emma Miskew and Rachel Homan talking strategy.   Nik Edin talking Swedish.

So – curling lingo matters more in our sport than any other – because everyone in the world is listening!

So, as a public service (and a history lesson) – let’s take a look at some commonly used curling terms.    Hope you enjoy them – please share your favourites!

The stone is called…

“The rock” “The stone” “The brick” “The puck”
“The pill”

Throw the rock as near to the middle as possible

“Drill the lid” “Put it on the pin” “Draw the pot” “Draw the button”
“Put it on the nail” “Draw the one foot” “Put it on the dog” “Put it on the hole”

Describe throwing the rock really hard – “I’m gonna throw..”

“Parking lot weight” “a heater” “smoke” “A bullet”
“A (frickin’) laser” “A bomb” “Peel plus plus” “Vapor trails”
“It so hard, you better start running now” “It overhand” “A missile”

Complement a good shot

“Nice shot” “Good puck” “Nice brick” “Pistol”
“Beauty” “Hummer” “Right at it” “Threw it great”
“Take your mate for a drink”

Describe a really poor shot result

“Ugly” “Brain cramp” “Brutal” “Cranked it”
“Dumped it” “Flared it” “Floated it” “Threw it back”
“Babied it” “Rolled it” “Never got to the stick” “Threw it out”
“Steered it” “Overswept it” “Underswept it”

Draw in front of another stone

“Freeze it” “Weld it” “Lock it” “No bump”
“Crack an egg” “Park it”

Throw it hard enough to reach the back board

“Board weight” “Bumper weight” “Barrier weight”

Describe ice that is faster than usual

“It’s lightning” “Like glass” “Like throwing downhill” “Like air hockey”
“It’s (super)(ultra)(mega)(crazy) (insanely) quick” “Just blow on it to get it started”

Describe ice that is slower than usual

“Sandpaper” “Like mud” “Like a swamp” “You have to throw it overhand”
“No carry” “Draggy” “Sticky” “Fudgey”
“Grippy” “Flat”

Describe ice without a lot of curl

“Straight” “No movement” “On a rail” “Air hockey”

Describe ice with a lot of curl

“Moving huge” “Hooking” “Diving” “Big finish”
“Tilted” “Dished” “Half pipe”

Describe directly hitting another stone

“Nose it” “Beak it” “Nut it” “Bang it”

Describe hitting a guard hard

“Crashed it” “Wrecked” “All over it”

Describe just glancing off a guard

“Feathered it” “Tickled it” “Rubbed it” “Wicked it”

Describe just getting past a guard

“Squeaked it” “Papered it” “Saw a spark” “Hit it going by”

Describe a big sweeping effort

“Coast to coast” “Never left it” “Pounded it” “Hammered it”
“Like animals” “You owe us a beer”

Put the stone away from the centre line

“Draw the corner” “Put it on the side” “Put it on the wing” “Put it wide”

Hit a stone and roll to another position

“Hit and roll” “Hit and flop” “Chap and lie” “Park and fly”

Hit a stone onto another stone

“Runback” “Raise” “Slam it” “Run it in”
“In-off” “Redirect” “Angle it in” “Drive it”

Sweepers communicating that a stone is heavy

“It’s hot” “Got tons” “Got piles” “It’s up”
“Tee plus”

Sweepers communicating that a stone is light

“Gotta go” “Needs it” “It’s down” “Short”

Shot just has to reach the house

“Just hit the paint” “Just need the rings” “Just hit the house” “Just need the 12”

Stone has to curl more to make the shot

“No line!” “Nothing!” “Tons of room” “Has to move”

Stone is inside the line to make the shot

“Tight!” “Never leave it!” “Gotta go!” “Inside!”

Clear guards

“Rip them” “Clear them” “Pound it” “Peel it”

Hans Frauenlob is a New Zealand Olympian in curling (2006). He is a two-time medallist at World Seniors, has played in four World Men’s Championships, and one World Mixed Doubles Championship. He is a curling commentator and a member of the WCF Competition and Rules Commission. He also has two World Series rings from his time working at the Toronto Blue Jays. Hans lives in Auckland.