Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mailbag - Lost It, How Do I Get It Back?

I recently received an email from an athlete who, along with her teammate, has just qualified to represent her country in the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Dumfries, Scotland. Her letter to me revolved around an issue with which all curlers deal from time-to-time, that elusive "feel" for draw weight. In her case, she delivers stones #1 & #5. That stone #1 draw is crucial to success in mixed doubles, in fact, so much so that if it's missed (i.e. not frozen to the stationary opposition stone that's placed just behind the pin) to say you're in deep trouble would be an understatement. At the highest level of play in mixed doubles, you can just about kiss the end good-bye! I've written about this before but I'll embellish on that posting here.

I have had success with curlers on this topic by reminding them that "weight control" in a no backswing delivery is the "time" consumed between two stages of the delivery. I see five altogether. They are; #1 hack position (just the way it was taught at your novice clinic [you did start with a clinic didn't you?], #2 park (that position whereby your hips are brought to a spot from which you move forward), #3 bottom out (the very instant your hack foot leaves the hack), #4 slide (so that the weight of your body is evenly distributed on you slider) and lastly #5 release (remembering that if you have a million dollar delivery and a two cent release, you my friend, have a two cent delivery).

Q. - between which two stages is the amount of time consumed the essence of weight control (especially for "down weight" shots [defined as any shot that comes to rest in play])?

A. - stages #2 & #3 (park and bottom out)!

If you reduce the amount of time from park-to-bottom-out, you will be sliding faster and therefore you will impart more velocity to the stone. If, on the other hand, you consume more time from park-to-bottom-out, you will impart less velocity to the stone. Why, because more time consumed means one is sliding more slowly and less time consumed means one is sliding more quickly. This is not rocket science. Heh, I made this up and I'm not a rocket scientist (enough with the coughing and rolling of eyes out there). But it works and has helped countless athletes who get into a position similar to the one described in the email I received.

NB - You only think about time consumed between park and bottom out to get the "feel" back into weight control. You don't play like this from first shot of the game to the last. It's your weight control flotation device. It's there when you need it!

Before I close this today, I want to make a point here about the "topic de jour" in Canada and it's about the so-called "relegation" system that's now in place for national events. I'm not concerned about your feelings on the matter and I don't intend to air mine at this time but what I do want to caution those of you who are signing petitions and considering some form of speaking out to make sure you know to whom you should be speaking.

The term "Canadian Curling Association" (CCA) means just that. It's an association of members, in this case provincial and territorial curling associations (M.A.'s). My colleagues on staff at the office in Ottawa do not make this stuff up. Neither do the "board of governors"! It's your M.A. in concert with the other M.A.'s at the summer Curling Congress who make these types of decisions, so if you want answers or simply need to be heard on a topic, don't jump on the CCA staff or the board of governors. You're barking up the wrong tree. If it's governance or the way the directives of the M.A.'s are being implemented, then possibly Ottawa is the place to direct your attention. Bottom line, contact your M.A. not the CCA!

There are some of you out there who are scoffing at the inclusion of our newest territory, Nunavut, into the family of national curling competitors. I recently spent five days in "Rankin Inlet" with five young men who, in a few short years, are going to turn some heads in the rest of Canada. The same is happening in Iqaluit with a young women's team. Buckle your chin straps Canada, that sound you hear from the north are some really talented athletes training hard who just want a chance and they deserve that chance! They're just as Canadian, perhaps more so given their heritage, as the rest of us.

Many are using the model of the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championship as the one to be followed. I think you'd better do some homework on how that event is conducted before jumping on that band wagon. I can tell you first hand that it's working well but I'm not sure it translates well to the other national championships. But, I'm happy that so many Canadians care. It shows that curling really is an important national sport and one about which its participants and fans care deeply. That's a good thing!

And, oh yah, let me know how that "time from park to bottom out" goes for you! You know how to reach me (billchpc@shaw.ca).


  1. What or should I ask who is an MA?
    Is there a list somewhere?

    Daniel Janidlo
    Pointe-Claire CC
    Pointe-Claire, Quebec

    1. "It's an association of members, in this case provincial and territorial curling associations (M.A.'s)."

    2. Sorry, after re-reading your comment it my guess is that you're looking for something like this: http://www.curling.ca/membership/member-associations/

      It doesn't list names but you can go find names on member association websites.

  2. I'd love to get your thoughts on the OCA/CCA dispute and sanctions

  3. Good points for the weight control process Bill. I also have found success by a small adjustment in the position of your head during the extension part of a delivery...It has been my experience that lots of high performance curlers experiencing a loss of "touch" is a result of the lowering of the head while sliding... This is very common with curlers that practice frequently. The athlete's head will get lower and lower with each session of practice(also later in a bonspiel) reducing the perspective of distance to the far house. A good example of a higher position would be Ed Lukowich, one of the worlds best "touch" throwers ever.. Examine his head position relative to perhaps Ryan Fry. Ryan is a tremendous player that has absolutely adapted to the "Low throw" and learned the "pace" toe slide to near perfection. These are polar opposites yet for the average player a small adjustment in their head position upwards will help regain that elusive "touch"