The great thing about Wheelchair curling is that just about anyone with access to a wheelchair can play. Some rinks even have their own to borrow for those who don’t use a wheelchair in everyday life but would prefer a seated delivery position. Age is not a barrier, with players aged from 8 to 80+ enjoying the game. Wheelchair curling can be played by people with a wide range of disabilities. It is a variation of the game of curling for people who have a disability affecting their lower limbs or gait. All that is needed is the co-ordination to hold a delivery stick and strength to push it with a stone attached to the other end.
Wheelchair curling is played with the same 20kg granite stones and on the same ice as regular curling, though the stones are thrown from a stationary wheelchair and there is no sweeping. It is a relatively new discipline (1990’s) within a sport that has been played in Scotland since the 1500’s. Each player delivers or pushes their stones in turn, down a sheet of ice towards a circular target in the ice and hope they end up closer to the centre than those thrown by their opponent.
Teams are usually made up of four, with both male and female players required for bigger competitions. You may want to take someone with you when you go out on the ice to move the stones. You will probably need someone to hold your chair steady when you throw your stones, this is usually one of the other players. There are also triples, pairs and mixed doubles formats played.
No special equipment is required to get started. You can use a regular wheelchair, though need to make sure wheels are clean before going on the ice. Clubs will have delivery sticks or cues, so you just need warm clothes, with layers. A lap belt can give added security and allow a greater range of movement. A stability grip can also help as you progress but clubs will help you with these.
There are 22 curling rinks in Scotland and they all have access for wheelchair curling with ramps onto the ice. Scottish Curling promotes the TryCurling initiative (www.trycurling.com) as a national scheme to introduce people to the sport.
When you start, the coach will take the time to introduce the game to you slowly and let you learn to throw the stones and practice before starting to play games.
Curling is played at every level of ability. Fun leagues have complete beginners and people playing for the social side of the game. This is a great place to learn how to curl. As you improve, you may want to play in leagues that will test your skills. You don’t need other wheelchair users to play with as wheelchair users are welcome in non-wheelchair clubs.
We hope that you come and try curling, have fun and keep coming back.
To find out where to have a go, see: www.trycurling.com
Watch more Discover Wheelchair Curling videos.