Watch & Learn: 5 Steps to Consciously Watch Curling

Game analysis is important in any athletic endeavour. There is much to learn from amateurs and professionals: what to do, what not to do, how to communicate and how to strategize. When you have the opportunity to analyze different parts of the game of curling (while watching on TV, or in person), it’s best to go in with a set intention, and a few specific things to watch out for.

This worksheet is designed as a template to help you bring some intention into your viewing by:

  • Establishing a pre-game focus
  • Comparing games, teams, levels of play
  • Practicing problem solving individually or with others
Step 1

It’s safe to say you are watching all aspects of the game, but narrowing your focus provides more opportunities to learn.

Pick a focus for the game:

  • Strategy
  • Ice/rock reading
  • Team dynamics
  • Player specific
  • Position specific
Step 2

The following are some questions you can seek to answer while you watch. I suggest breaking your viewing down end by end, and then come up with a final synopsis based on your set intention at the succession of the game.

Pre game questions:

  • What will the keys to the game be?
  • What might each team focus on in order to come out on top against their opponent?
  • What part of your game would you be focusing on to put yourself in the best situation to a play a team like those are watching?

Strategy specific questions:

  • Team 1: in each end how would you describe their strategy?
    • Defensive, offensive, or mixed –did their strategy change, and why?
  • Team 2: in each end how would you describe their strategy?
    • Defensive, offensive, mixed –did their strategy change, and why?
  • In your mind, did either team make any strategy mistakes? Be able to describe why you think this, and what you would have considered, or done instead.
  • In your mind, did either team make any great decisions? Describe why.
  • Many times there are no definitive right and wrong answers.
    • When considering factors such as ability (consider strengths and weaknesses of both teams), the end, the ice, and who is throwing… would you have done anything differently with your team? Why?
  • Was there a big end scored, what do you think attributed to that?
  • Were there any blanks? What do you think attributed to that (a miss or a make, a missed strategy call).
  • If the team was forced to one with hammer, what happened? Was that the intention of their opponent?
  • If a team steals an end, what happened?
  • A team takes or gives up a bundle (2+ points), what happened?

Ice/rock reading questions:

  • Who on each team is in charge of mapping and understanding the ice?
  • Did they players reading the ice make any mistakes? Describe why.
  • Did they players reading the ice make any great decisions? Describe why.
  • What tools do the players use to read the ice?
  • Are there tricky parts of the ice?
  • Map the ice.
    • Mark the straight spots, curly spots, spots that might fall on the ice.
    • Mark where you would put the broom to throw a draw to the button with both turns.
    • Mark how much ice you would give for a hit of varying weights across the sheet.
    • Mark where the break point is going in each direction
  • Do you think any of the rocks are straighter, or curl more than the other rocks. Are the players rocks matched? Does the team throw their rocks in order, or change up the order during the game – why?
  • Did the ice change?

Team dynamic and communication specific questions:

  • Did the team interact in any special way?
  • How did the individuals and the teams handle emotions both pleasant & unpleasant, such as stress, anxiety, disappointment, excitement?
    • Compare this to how you and your team handle your emotions and stay mentally strong.
    • Could either you, your team or the other teams improve in any way? How and why?
  • Who on the team makes decisions?
  • How is information passed amongst players in regards to ice, shot choice, feedback, etc.?

Player specific

  • Choose a player to watch throughout the game.
    • What are the common shots that they make that might be specific/important to their position?
    • What decisions are they a part of?
    • Where do they spend their time?
    • Be specific. Describe their body language. Describe their interactions with team members. Describe their specific role on the team.

Position specific

  • Choose a position to watch throughout the game, and compare players from both teams.
    • How is their position important?
    • Why are their shots important?
  • How and what do they communicate with their teammates?
Step 3

Extra post game questions

  • Were there any key shots to the game?
  • Describe the momentum of the game, was one team in control, did the control switch between teams, what happened in each situation?
  • Did the commentators (or others watching the game) provide any insights to the game you hadn’t thought of before.
  • Take 5 minutes to summarize what you learned this game, and how you will apply this new knowledge to your game in general, and specifically with your team.
Step 4

Keeping an open mind, discuss your answers with other coaches, players or spectators.

Know that there likely isn’t a “right or wrong” answer when you are viewing from behind the glass. You will however, learn new strategies to tackle different situations. As you discuss with others, be considerate of the fact that it is:

  • the situation/problem/example that you are discussing
    • versus you and those you compare the game with
      • not you versus this other person

This frame of mind keeps the ego out of the situation & lets you learn from other viewpoints and perspectives; better setting you up for decision making and conflict on the ice.

Step 5
  • Take what you’ve learned and create a list of things you can apply to your game
  • Choose one or two aspects at a time to work on as an individual or with your team to improve your game

I’ve prepared a printable PDF worksheet for all of the above, which you can download below. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Stephanie Thompson is a former student-athlete at Western University and is a certified Kinesiologist who plays on the WCT Women's tour.  This article, Watch & Learn: 5 Steps to Consciously Watch Curling was originally published on on her blog, Empowered Performance, and is re-published here with permission.

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