If you are just beginning to curl you might have heard about the Skip. A Skip is like the team captain. It is the job of the Skip to tell the players where to throw their shots and when to sweep. They also deliver the last two shots of the end. They are the team leaders and provide strategic direction. Basically, they call the shots.
Once your team decides what type of game they want to play, whether it be playing aggressive or playing it safe the Skip will be at the end of the ice planning the shots to execute. Some questions you should take into consideration about when making a decision on what shot to call is:
- Who has the Last Rock?
- What End is it?
- What the Score?
- How’s the Ice?
- How good is your team?
- How good are your opponents?
Once the Skip decides what shot needs to be taken they will direct you using their hands and their voice. Learning how to communicate from over 100 feet away may be confusing for beginners, but using hand signals can help. Hand signals can be unique to each skip, although most skips use a few common hand signals.
Skips will often have a broom signal and a hand signal. When the skip taps their broom on the ice they are indicating that is the spot they want the rock to come to a rest. When a skip taps a rock this means they want the rock removed from play.
The hand signal is a bit trickier to read. An outstretched arm indicates which direction the stone should curl. Assuming the shooter is right-handed and they are looking down the ice and see their skip pointing to the right (the shooters left) that means they have to curl the rock counterclockwise. Alternatively, if the skip is pointing left that means the rock should curl clockwise.
More experienced curlers will use hand signals to indicate the kind of throw, for example, the weight of throw. But that is for more experienced players who probably won’t be reading beginner Skip strategies!
Once the rock is heading down the ice the skip will gauge the speed of the rock and determine if the rock needs help from the sweepers. Sweeping makes the rock curl less and move straighter and helps it travel a few meters farther. If the rock needs a sweep then the skip might yell “Yes”, “Sweep” or “Hurry Hard” to name a few. If the skip wants the sweepers to stop they might yell “No” “Off” or “Up”. Once your team has been playing for a while you can decide what term works best for your team.
These are the basics of being a Skip. Give it a shot next time you are on the ice and see if this is the position for you!