Sweeping “Off-Ice”; How to make and use your own dryland sweeping pad

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So you’re doing all the right things and have invested some time, energy and resources into training for this upcoming season. You’ve been running, doing some yoga or stretching, lifting weights and focusing on interval training.

Congrats!

But, have you considered making your physical training even more curling specific?

Apart from washing your own floors or painting your driveway, have you done much in the way of sweeping?

…“But Steph, I don’t have access to ice in the winter”

…”I don’t know what to use to practice dryland sweeping”

…”I haven’t been able to find anything to use”

….”blah blah blah”.

Excuses aside I know it’s hot, and that the summer months are spent catching up with friends and family you don’t get to see as often during the curling season. I understand I experience it also. But, in order to really maximize the 4-6 months off the ice you need to put in a little effort and creativity.

My go-to sweeping station uses a hockey slideboard and the little vinyl booties. Now, those can be quite expensive. I’ve also found Sportchek sells plastic ice, and you can order these dryland flooring tiles & booties online.

But, if you’re like me and like to keep costs low, go hunting at places like Dollarama, Walmart or Ikea and get creative.

Enter the Dryland Sweeping Pad –DIY style (example)

The key is to get off your butt, and put in some effort. Do the work to get better instead of just telling me you want to be the best sweeper in Ontario.

You need 5 things to make and use a successful sweeping pad:

  • A slippery surface:
    • Examples I’ve found include: placemats, plastic picture frames, whiteboards, tin cooking sheets, a square of linoleum flooring, etc.
      • Separate recommendation: glue to a piece of plywood to make it a little more sturdy
    • Something to go on your broomhead:
      • Examples include: fluffy socks, a vinyl bag, microfiber towel
        • tie it to your broom with a string, use youtube to learn how to sew, or wrap it with duct tape.
    • And (optional) something to make the surface more slippery:
      • Furniture polish, turtle wax (car wax) or soap and water.
    • Sprinkle in a little work ethic
    • And a lot of grit

and VOILA!

You can now focus on:

  • Technique and optional positioning with your feet on stable ground;
    • build trust in those muscles you’ve been strengthening in the gym
    • work on the exercise of sweeping as a skill in a safe environment, and build body awareness.
      • From my own experience and the experience of those I’ve been lucky train we each have noticed a direct translation between regular dryland training in the off-season and improved sweeping on ice.
        • You get the opportunity to increase your confidence in the optimal sweeping position, and you add extra opportunities to train specifically for the act of sweeping.
  • Strengthening your push and pull.
    • Do you know what part of your sweeping technique you need to work on? If it’s your push or your pull you can do some of the below drills to train appropriately.
  • Optimising the brushhead speed and amount of surface area you sweep.
    • If you’ve ever seen a video of yourself sweep, or had the pleasure to use one of those sweeping technique brooms you might have learned about your efficiency as a sweeper. Finding the equal balance between pressure and speed to create the most force into the ice, in an optimal space is ideal. You can run your own drills at home (again, see below)

Prescription:

  • Minimum twice a week; one session to focus on technique, and one session to focus on interval training and priming the muscles for end-end sweeping. This can take 5-15 minutes! That’s it!

Variations:

  • Tabata: 4 minutes total…8 rounds of: 20 sec work with 10 sec rest
  • End-end practice: 24 seconds sweeping hard (pace yourself!)  with 45 seconds rest 5-10 rounds.
  • Combine sweeping and box steps or lunging intervals
  • Combine sweeping and footwork trainer/skateboard intervals (example)
  • Attach your broom head to a band and a sturdy pole to accentuate the push or the pull motion separately (example)
  • Try sweeping from your knees for an added challenge
  • Using a separate slide board you can have one foot on stable ground, and one 1 leg practicing footwork on a slider board.
  • Trying videoing your sweeping sessions to focus on technique:
    • Things to look for are mentioned in the below article
      • Broom angle
      • Sweeping space
      • Broomhead speed
      • Centre of gravity in relation to hips and feet

For additional information and ideas check out the Ontario Curling Council website. I also post Curling related videos and photos on my Facebook and Instagram pages (Twitter is good too).

Link to research on optimal brushing technique found here

Link to Dryland Training for Brushing Footwork article found here (A skateboard on the side of a curb works for those without the handy-gene)

Link to Curling Fitness Tip –My 4 Favourite Exercises for Powerful Sweeping article found here

Stephanie Thompson is a former student-athlete at Western University and is a certified fitness trainer who plays on the WCT Women's tour.  This article, Sweeping “Off-Ice”; How to make and use your own dryland sweeping pad was originally published on on her blog, Personal Training with Stephanie Thompson, and is re-published here with permission.