Sixty-Four

In the last blog, I referred to a “pre-event” activity my national senior teams employ at the World Senior Curling Championships for the pre-event practice (an opportunity to use each sheet for 15 min. the day prior to the event) and in the evening (when sheets of ice are available to countries wishing to practise in preparation for the next day’s games). Canada always practises in the evening!

Whether it’s the pre-event practice or the evening practice, the goal is the same, learn as much as possible about the ice and stones!

What follows is certainly not the only procedure one might use to accomplish that goal, it’s only the one I prefer. Over time it’s proven its worth to me and the teams. I call it “Sixty-Four” because in 15 min., the team should, with practice, be able to deliver 64 meaningful shots. You’ll notice I said “meaningful” and “shots”. We’re not out there just “throwing rocks”. Never just throw rocks! Always make meaningful shots!

I’ll describe “64” then make some final comments. It’s going to appear, in printed form, much more complicated that it is when you try it on the ice so don’t let my description dissuade you.

Stage One
The objective of this stage is two fold. One, it’s the only time in the activity you’ll deliver stones down the center of the sheet. Second, it gets half of your stones and team at each end of the sheet.
Following practice slides, each player delivers one stone to the away end of the sheet, down the center. Two should be with a clockwise rotation and two with a counterclockwise rotation and two with draw weight and two with up weight. The players delivering the first two stones, follow them to the away end. Now we have half the stones and team at each end of the sheet.

Stage Two
For this stage and all remaining stages, stones are delivered from both ends of the sheets simultaneously. No stones should collide!
This stage is on the right side of the sheet, playing shots from outside in. The line of delivery may be as wide as the edge of the sheet but should be no close to the center than the mid eight foot circle.

Stage Three
Same as previous stage but using the left side of the sheet.

Stage Four
Back to the right side, this stage is for shots inside out. The  line of delivery is no close to the center line than the edge of the four foot circle.

Stage Five
Same as previous stage but using the left side of the sheet.

Stage Six
Stages 6 & & test “crossing the center line”. For these stages, to ensure that stones don’t collide, it’s imperative that players deliver stones at the same time from each end. Again, we’re back to the right side of the sheet with the line of delivery the edge of the four foot but, like stages 1 & 2, the stones are delivered outside in.

Stage Seven
Same as previous stage but using the left side of the sheet.

The coach is to the side in the middle of the sheet to “direct traffic” and ensure that stones don’t collide (and they should not if the  procedure outlined above is followed). I use simple hand signals to switch from one stage to the next. I like to watch rotations and note slight irregularities with the normal deliveries of the players. If a player is working on something, I’ll pay particular attention to it.
Players should pay special attention to the stones they are likely to actually use in the game. There is no one holding the brush as a target so visualization, which should be occurring anyway, is a critical component. Also, players should vary the line of delivery and weight accordingly as well (play the shots one is more likely to play in the game).
At the end of the activity, notes re. ice and stones can be given to the fifth player or team manager for subsequent review to be entered into the team “bible” (see post of 10/10/12 ).

As with your pre-game warm up, this needs to be practised and choreographed. These activities done precisely with purpose set a tone for the team that will serve it well in the game!