Maximising the Value Rule Trial: Thinking Time Per End

Following the approval at the World Curling Federation Annual General Assembly by the Member Associations to authorise the World Curling Federation Board to take a final decision on the trial rules, three papers have been drafted to begin the consultation process.

These three documents outline the basis of the trial rules, updates to the initial proposals based on feedback received to date, rationale, benefits, challenges to overcome (concerns heard to date) and evidence base for the proposals.

Below you will find the paper for the trial rule of “Thinking Time Per End”. The papers for the other rules are available on the following links:

No Tick Shots

Removal of Extra Ends in the Round Robin

Trial Rule One — Thinking Time Per End

Annual General Assembly Motion

Four minutes per end for the first five ends and four minutes 15 seconds for the remaining ends will be allowed. If a team runs out of time at one end the other team will be allowed to deliver their remaining stones, provided they can do so within their remaining time and then the end score will be calculated. If they also run out of time, then the score will be calculated at the point where the second team runs out of time.

To be considered given feedback so far: 

  • Allow a clock stop(s) for 30s in addition to timeouts (would need a signal for this and a signal for timeouts)
  • Allow an additional timeout


Whilst much of the discussion has been around the length of the game in ends, further investigation also points to concerns around the pace of play.

Whether the game is eight or ten ends, the pace of play issue needs to be resolved. Ideally the pace of play discussions should be concluded before any final decision on whether the game should be eight or ten ends, as this would allow the impact of these decisions to be factored into the discussions.

Thinking Time Per End removes the need for running a quick end to bank time — removing “poor” unexciting blank ends strictly for the purpose of conserving time — which is seen as a positive from both our fans and the broadcasters.

It brings an element of excitement into every end and draws on other sports experiences of bringing the clock into play. This keeps spectators and viewers engaged and reduces the risk of viewers switching away from an uninteresting end and not returning to the game.


  • Encourages offensive play/reduces motivation for defensive play
    • Eliminates the need/ability to “bank time” for later ends
    • Eliminates the need to “make up time” for lengthy ends played early in the game
  • Creates a more consistent pace of play
    • Less variation between long and short ends
    • Improves flow of the game, similar to shot-clock in basketball, service-clock in tennis, play-clock in American football, pitch-clock in baseball, etc.
  • Adds the element of time pressure/excitement to each end
    • Places premium on the skill of strategic thinking and quick decision making
  • Provides better certainty for time required to play an end
    • Reduces difference in time required to play short (defensive/open) ends and long (offensive/complex) ends
    • Improved time consistency aids scheduling of commercial breaks for broadcasters
    • Improved time consistency across multiple games in a draw increases the opportunity for sport presentation activities during the mid-game break
  • Provides better certainty for overall time required to play a game
    • Increases likelihood of completing games consistently within the allotted broadcast schedule
      • Thinking Time Per End doesn’t address challenges created by games which are conceded early, but allows option of using remainder of allotted time to move to another game or for athlete interviews
    • Consistently meeting the allotted broadcast time makes curling more attractive to broadcasters, especially new or non-traditional broadcast partners
    • Reduces the likelihood of broadcasters moving on to other scheduled programming before games are completed
    • Better time-consistency allows broadcast production features to be enhanced

Challenges to overcome

Some of the feedback received following the Curling World Cup indicated that players felt rushed during complicated ends and that there was not enough time. However, less than 10% of the ends finished with a team having less than ten seconds on the clock. This was mitigated by increasing the time per end after the feedback received from the first leg of the Curling World Cup.

Additionally more time is allocated to the second half of the game. Further consideration needs to be given to including a mechanism to allow for a “clock pause” that can be called by a team to assess a particularly complicated end.

The time clock operators and officials also need to be well trained, again there was a strong focus on this during the Curling World Cup and there were no instances of games being significantly impacted due to time clock operator error, however this remains a risk and a clear mitigation strategy is required for this.

Another issued raised, is the use of the world championships and whether it is appropriate to trial rules at these events. This has been discussed carefully and whilst it is recognised it is not the perfect solution, there are very few ten end events with an elite level field and top officials that would allow these rules to be trialled effectively.

All have been trialled in one form or another at eight end events and trialling them at the world championships will give a full set of data to evaluate the benefits or otherwise of the impact.

Evidence Base

Thinking Time Per End was used during the Curling World Cup and received mostly positive feedback. It has not been used in ten ends games at an international level, hence the suggestion to trial at the world championships.

It was used at previous edition of the Canada Cup and received a less favourable response, but some of the additional feedback since seeks to address the concerns raised at that time.

Input has been taken from the 2015 and 2019 Athlete Surveys, feedback reports from the Curling World Cup, CurlIT Timing Analysis from the Curling World Cup, the World Curling Federation Fan Survey conducted in April 2021, social media feedback on the trial rules, comments from the Competition and Rules Commission and Athlete Commission, comments from World Curling Federation Member Associations, discussions with selected broadcasters and both World Curling Federation Marketing Agents as well as the Maximising The Value Working Group themselves.

Maximising The Value Working Group

The Maximising The Value Working Group was set up following the World Curling Federation Annual General Assembly in 2019, with the aim of looking at how to increase the interest in curling beyond the current traditional audiences both on and offline. This included not only looking at the length of the game but issues such as pace of play and understandability.

The Maximising The Value Working Group includes a broad range of voices from within the sport including those involved in playing, administering, hosting, marketing, broadcasting and officiating.

As athletes those involved have been to ten Olympic Games winning four medals and on the wider world stage have represented their countries almost 1,300 times in World Curling Federation Events winning more than 60 medals.

The Maximising The Value Working Group is chaired by World Curling Federation Vice-President (Americas), Graham Prouse.


If you would like to submit any feedback on this or any of the other proposed trial rules you can email your comments to [email protected]

Perth, Scotland

13 October 2021
Maximising the Value