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House Call: Organizing tips for your corporate curling event

Social and super-fun, curling is a great activity for corporate team-building or seasonal office parties. You can simplify things for groups made up of mostly beginners so that the learning process is fun for all ability levels.

When booking your event, if you’re not sure about something, don’t be afraid to ask for help from the curling club manager or pro where you’ll be curling.

To get you started, here are some pointers and things to consider when planning your event.

Instruction and Safety

If your group has mostly beginners I highly recommend requesting a lesson – including a safety talk – with a qualified curling instructor: inside to start, then with on-ice demonstrations and a chance to practice a bit before starting a game. Generally a quick lesson like this takes 30-45 minutes and greatly decreases the chance of injury to both the players and the ice surface.

If anyone feels unsafe or uncomfortable using sliders (worn on/under the non-dominant foot in order to reduce friction with the ice when sliding out to throw a rock) make it clear that sliders are not mandatory. Participants can easily push out from the hack without a slider, the slide just won’t go very far. Using the stick delivery device is also an option. Fun is more important at an event like this than learning technical skills.

To ensure your group is prepared, make sure they see Curling – Important Rules and Information. I would recommend distributing it (by email or handout) when collecting numbers of participants, then again the day before the event so people remember to bring clean shoes. It’s no fun having to ask someone to sit out because their footwear is unsafe or might damage the ice surface.

Numbers and Teams

It’s important to know how many people will be coming to your event because it makes a big difference in how your event can be organized.

You should have an even number of teams, with four players on each team. Teams of three can also work: the first two throwers play three rocks each and the last thrower on the team, the skip, throws the last two rocks.

Try to have one person on each team who has at least tried curling before. They don’t need to be experts, but having some experience on each team helps level the playing field and keep the games moving along at a reasonable pace. Assign teams ahead of time to keep the games running smoothly.

In a larger group, if there are enough sheets of ice, you may want to have everyone on the ice at the same time with a short warm-up break part way through. If you have a very large company or you’re working with more teams than will fit on the ice at one time, you may want to rotate teams between playing and taking a “warm up” break inside. You can ask the curling club manager or volunteers for help working out a break rotation and draw.

I recommend playing two- or four-end games to make the event as social as possible. By shortening game duration, you allow the participants a chance to socialize with a number of other teams.

Score Tracking

Keep in mind, if you plan to give prizes to the winners, and you have everyone playing a series of three or four two- to four-end games, you will need a way to determine the winner. The Curling Bonspiel Score Keeper model is set up for a group with four different teams, but it can easily be modified to accommodate more.

One person can be in charge of tracking the score by having a player from each team report after each game. Or, you can also post the score sheet and have teams fill in their own scores after each game.

There are lots of variations, but the Curling Bonspiel Score Keeper works as follows:

  • Five points for winning a game (record under the W-5 T-3 L-1 column), plus the points scored during the game, called End Points on the score sheet.
  • Three points for a tie, plus the number of points scored during the game.
  • One point for a loss, plus any points scored during the game.

Once all the games are completed, the points are totalled, ranked, and prizes given accordingly. Ties can be broken with a draw to the button on ice if time allows, or a toss of a coin, or any other method you find works fairly and simply.

If you like, you can add other ways to earn extra points, such as two extra points for making a double take-out or two points for the team with the highest or lowest combined age or years with the company. You could also have a trivia quiz for teams to work on while they are inside warming up. The possibilities are endless, so be sure to have fun and be creative when planning.

Timing

Typically, two to three hours is more than enough time to get in a few shortened games after a lesson about safety and curling basics from a club instructor or manager. Allow half an hour to 45 minutes for the lesson and practice prior to starting the games.

For total on-ice duration, I would not recommend going longer than three or four hours, especially if your group is made up of mostly beginners. Curling may look easy enough on TV but it is quite physical and beginners often end up sore and tired quite quickly.

These are just a few ideas to get you started planning your corporate curling event. Remember to book ice and instruction with a curling club near you soon because the Christmas season fills up fast.

(Photo J. Mills)

Fun is more important at an event like this than learning technical skills.(Photo J. Mills)