Maximising the Value Working Group consultation feedback

© WCF / Céline Stucki

The Maximising the Value Working Group recently reviewed and discussed the results of the initial consultation phase of the Trial Rule proposals.

The World Curling Federation Athlete Commission and Competition and Rules Commission provided feedback and all the input received from their members after the proposals were announced. Additional comments that suggested enhancements to the trial rules in order to improve them were also discussed.

Public feedback received by the World Curling Federation as well as media commentary was presented in this review.


There was some positive feedback showing some athletes and stakeholders were open to trialling rules to assess their impact. However, there was a lot of negative feedback with significant concerns — particularly from athletes — regarding trialling rules at World Championships.

The Athlete Commission relayed strong objections received from those athletes who were opposed to some or all of these concepts.

Reactions per Trial Rule

Thinking Time Per End

  • Concern was raised about the amount of time per end being proposed causing teams to be overly rushed during complicated and interesting ends with lots of stones in play
  • Suggestions were received about providing a small number of opportunities during a game for a short pause — without a coach involved time out — and extending the time to four minutes and 30 seconds per end — initially until teams get used to the Thinking Time Per End
  • There were concern with errors in time keeping unfairly impacting teams

No-Tick Zone

  • It was suggested that using the entire length of the centre line in the Free Guard Zone as the No-Tick Zone would be too easy
  • Suggestions were received to limit the No-Tick Zone to a specific marked area on the centre line for a long guard and a short guard
  • Suggestions were received to expand the No-Tick Zone to include corner guards purposely placed to produce offensive opportunities
  • In terms of the ability to measure whether a stone was touching the centre line it was noted that the same tool used for judging whether a stone had crossed the hog-line could be used quickly and effectively
  • A suggestion to consider limiting the use of this to the final few ends of the game was proposed

No Extra End

  • Concerns were raised about an over reliance on a single shot, draw to the button to decide a game
  • Concerns about the unknown strategy impacts near the end of a game and at the end of a round robin was also raised

Using the World Championships to trial rules

  • Concern that rules should be not be trialled at World Championships. They should by trialled at Tour events, Grand Slams or World Cups
  • Concerns were raised that trialling rules at a World Championship would serve to diminish their importance
  • It was suggested that using untested concepts would result in negative athlete reaction and negative media attention
  • It was highlighted that the methodology of trialling three rules at once does not allow for a clear analysis of impact of any one rule


The Maximising the Value Working Group has taken onboard the concerns raised regarding the trialling of three rules at the same time and the potential issues in assessing the impact of each rule change. As such, the group will not consider the trialling of the Extra End rule at the Women’s and Men’s World Championships this season and discussions on how the other two rules could be trialled continue and will conclude in January.

The Maximising the Value Working Group do believe in the value of trialling this rule in order to determine the impact on the strategy and tactical changes it introduces. However, alternative competitions will be investigated in order to trial it.

The group also believe that providing more background information on the rationale for the Trial Rules would be useful. We have tried to answer the most common questions below.

Q: Why not decide on 8v10 ends — does that not solve all the issues?

A: Feedback on 8v10 shows this is another very divisive issue. There is strong feeling that ten end games, like five set matches in the tennis majors, should be used for our biggest events to make it more likely the better team wins and the most deserving Champion is crowned.

It is believed that ten end games are harder to win, as there is more time for come backs. Additionally, there is clear feedback from sponsors and the marketing agencies that reducing the number of ends will have a negative impact on sponsorship impressions and income, especially in North America.

Finally reducing the number of ends also does not resolve the issues around pace of play, they would remain, albeit in a shorter game. Reducing the number of ends does not ensure that games regularly finish within an allotted amount of time or fill an established broadcast time window.

Q: Why are the World Championships being used? Why not use the Slams or other events?

A: The three suggested trial rules have already been trialled in eight end game situations whether that is at the Curling World Cup, Grand Slams or Curling Night in America.

Feedback from players and coaches taken from those who played at the Curling World Cup and responded to the post-series survey gave a neutral to favourable reaction to both the Thinking Time Per End and the No Extra End rules, whilst general comments from athletes following the trials of the no tick rule at the Slams have been reasonably favourable.

What we do not have is any evidence of what the impact of using these rules in a ten end game would be.

With the challenges of COVID-19, the loss of the 2020–2021 season and the pressures of the Olympic season, the World Championships in 2022 seemed to provide a reasonable location to trial these rules with many of the top players and officials.

Trialling the rules at World Curling Federation events also allows the Federation to be responsible for the competition environment and better facilitate the collection of data.

Q: Does Thinking Time Per End result in a shorter overall game time? What is the evidence?

A: Yes. Analysis carried out by CurlIT — the World Curling Federation’s data supplier at the Curling World Cup — compared the average length of games to other events using eight ends. This analysis of Thinking Time Per End did, on average, deliver shorter and more predictable length of games.

Q: You say that the tick shot and extra end changes are aimed at reducing predictability in the game – what evidence is there to support this and why are you looking to change this?

A: Analysis of World Curling Federation championships since the addition of the five-rock free guard zone shows that when the score is tied in the tenth end, or in an extra end, the team with the hammer wins in more than 80% of the games.

Predictability leads to viewer switch off. If the game is seen as being a forgone conclusion then the viewer switches off or switches to another channel, meaning they are lost for the remainder of that game.

Whilst ensuring the hammer in the final end to give that advantage is a perfectly sound tactic, the question is whether it is really fair in an extra end. The statistics show it does hand the team that lost the final end an overwhelming advantage in the extra end.

Introducing the tick shot rule would hopefully encourage more offensive ends and a less predictable outcome, or at least more challenging and exciting winning shots.

Q: The tick shot is a great skill – why are you taking it away?

A: We are not taking it away, we are proposing to limit its use by allowing teams to position their stones in a protected area. If they don’t touch that protected area then the tick shot can still be used. This is not unlike the principle of the free guard zone.

Q: Why are you making these changes – nothing is broken in the game?

A: Our sport, like all sports continually looks for ways to increase the reach of the game and keep it growing.

Our fan survey shows the importance of television coverage in bringing in new participants, so it is important to do what we can to maximise that coverage as we compete for space on TV and digital platforms.

We are seeing in many countries, our coverage being moved to channels without the same reach — fanatics can still find it, but the first time viewer or more casual supporters will not go looking for it. This means we miss the chance to convert them to enthusiasts and participants in the sport.

It is important to assess what we can do to improve the game and the reach it has, before it is “broken” and more extreme action is needed.

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Perth, Scotland

27 December 2021
Maximising the Value