Sweeping is one of the most talked about aspects of the sport. Sweeping allows all four members of the team to be involved in each shot. While the skip (team captain who decides the strategy) places his or her broom on the ice as a target for the shooter, the remaining players sweep the stone’s path when deemed necessary.
Each stone curls, or curves, as it proceeds down the ice based on the turn (twist) given the stone during release of the handle. Stones will then gently rotate either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The amount of curl varies based on the ice surface, the speed of the stone, as well as the amount and timing of sweeping.
The “sweepers” are in the best position to judge whether or not the delivered stone has enough momentum to reach its target, while the person in the house (the skip or vice skip) can best judge the line and call for sweeping if the stone is curling too much or was delivered narrowly. Sweeping also clears the ice of any frost or debris that might slow the stone down or send it off course.
All four players may sweep at the same time when the stone is between the tee lines. However, only one player may sweep their team’s stone beyond the far tee line. The player in charge of the house (the skip or vice skip) may sweep an opponent’s stone once it passes the tee line. Players may also sweep any of their own stones that have been set into motion by the delivered stone.
It is has been said that effective curlers under ideal conditions can extend the path of the stone up to 15 feet. However, the impact and dynamics of sweeping is debated. For more information on the science of the sport, check out the links below: