Curling - The Basics of Getting Better
Curling is a very social sport and it's a lot of fun being out on the ice with your teammates, and then spending time in the lounge after the game sipping a cold beverage.
Like many sports, curling is easy to learn, but difficult to master. It takes perseverance and practice to move from rank beginner to becoming a competitive curler and an asset to your team.
There are ways to advance the process. They involve increased physical fitness, the right equipment, and an addition of other sports that help you gain skills to become a better curler.
Dont be afraid to ask your teammates or other succesful curlers in the club for help. They can analyze your slide and delivery and help with the basic mechanics of the game. Have someone videotape you during practice. Watching your delivery is a great way to pinpoint what you're doing right, and what you're doing wrong.
When you're curling, keep your mind in the game. When your skip puts down the broom think about why he or she is calling that shot. If you were skipping, what would you call, and why?
When you're in the hack, think about the smart miss. Of course you want to make the shot perfectly, but think about the consequences if you are too heavy or too light. What will happen if you are a little inside versus being a little outside?
There are also some good curling books on the market, with tips and strategy guides.
Other Sports That Help Improve Curling
Do the Solo or With Your Team
It's not surprising that many great curlers are also great pool players. The sport requires a good understanding of angles. A heavy take out shot in a crowded house resembles the break in a pool game. It's important to know where those balls (or rocks) are going to go.
A good curler knows the basic laws of physics including speed, trajectory and momentum. Like curling, it takes practice.
Yoga provides a solid foundation in balance and mental discipline. Maintaining your balance throughout your slide and release is imperative to good shot making. Yoga increases flexibility, another important component in a smooth delivery.
Practicing yoga also provides mental discipline which helps you stay focused and in the game. It is particularly beneficial in a competitive game when there is a lot at stake and there are a lot of distractions from the crowd.
Running is a good activity for curlers. It improves cardiovascular efficiency and helps an athlete to focus.
The best type of running activity for curlers is sprints. It best mimics the on ice activity when a curler stands for several minutes, then goes into a spurt of intense activity as they sweep the rock down the ice.
Start by walking for 5 minutes then break into a full out sprint for 30 seconds. Gradually decrease walking time and increase sprinting time until you reach a ratio of three minutes of walking followed by three minutes of fast running. Do the program for an hour a day. Remember to go full out during the sprint. You'll notice a difference in your ability to sweep hard in a matter of weeks.
Gone are the days when curling champions carried around a gut the size of a curling stone. Today's best curlers are strong and well muscled.
Concentrate on exercises that strengthen your legs to get more drive from the hack. Incorporate routines that strengthen the back, arms and shoulders to become a better sweeper.
Choosing the Best Curling Equipment
There's always new curling gear on the market. Find out what works for you and add it to your curling wish list.
Shoes are the most fundamental piece of curling equipment. They should be comfortable and warm. Leather is more durable and lasts longer than vinyl.
There are many types of surfaces available on the sliding foot shoes. A thicker slider will provide more speed, but if you don't have a flat footed delivery or are still a little unsteady on the ice go for a thinner sliding surface.
If your shoes are more than three years old it may be time to replace them. Newer, more efficient curling shoes hit the market every year so it pays to shop around.
Curling Brooms have changed dramatically since the days of the corn broom. Newer brushes are available in a variety of surfaces and colors along with pivoting heads that let the curler sweep closer to the rock.
As with shoes, it is a good idea to replace your curling broom on a regular basis.
Curling pants should be comfortable and have a lot of stretch. Make sure they are not too snug in the waist or bending over to sweep or set up in the hack will be uncomfortable. Make sure they are not cut too low. There's only so much you want to expose when you're crouched in the hack.
Choose a pair that are lightweight, but warm.
The name of the game is "get out on the ice, and get better".
With dedication, exercise, practice and the right equipment your game will improve. Good curling!