You may have seen curling on TV during the Winter Olympics — that crazy sport that requires a granite rock and a broom. It is said to be one of the oldest team sports, originating in the 16th century as a pastime on the frozen lakes and ponds in Northern Europe. It appeared at the first Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix, France, in 1924 and has been a fixture in the games for many years.
Two teams of four players slide 42-pound granite rocks down a sheet of ice — which is 130 feet long and 15 feet wide — toward the center of a 12-foot diameter target similar to an archery target. Each player throws two rocks toward the target, alternating with the other team, while their teammate vigorously sweeps the ice in front of the rock to keep it moving. The friction caused by the sweeping polishes the ice by briefly heating the surface, which makes the rocks travel farther and straighter. After all rocks have been thrown, the score is determined. Teams score one point for each rock closest to the center of the target (or house). In each end (like an inning in baseball), only one team can score.
Balance and stability play an important role in the sport. That’s why curlers wear special curling shoes. Some shoes have built-in “sliders” that help you launch the rock forward during delivery. Even more importantly, players need muscle strength in their legs for the “delivery position,” for a length of time. The delivery position looks like a deep lunge that you need to control and hold (as you slide forward with the rock) for as long as it takes to push the rock forward. The quads carry most of the body weight during the slide; so the stronger they are, the better the delivery.
Curling is an anaerobic sport, which focuses on brief, strength-based activities. Most players must sweep vigorously then calm down enough to gently deliver the rock. This requires the heart to calm down quickly. Players need to condition themselves for this constant interval.
You’ll be surprised how many curling clubs there are in the United States. Click here to locate a location near you.