Strategy and tactics

Ottawa Ont.Mar 5, 2016.Tim Hortons Brier. N.Ontario third Ryan Fry, Curling Canada/ michael burns photo

Strategy is commonly defined as “Deciding which shot to play”.

Of course, that’s not all there is to it – strategy in curling is a complex process that includes goal setting, making game plans, deciding game style, shot selection, and game evaluation.

Strategy and tactics are not the same, though they are tightly related. From his essay “Strategy: It’s not Rocket Science or Brain Surgery” here are three definitions of strategy that former National Training Centre coach and author Bill Tschirhart likes the best:

Strategy is the shot called, in light of a predetermined game plan, based upon a variety of factors which reflect the team’s strategic philosophy.

Strategy is a plan that ensures that when you out-curl the opposition, you also win the game.

Strategy is a series of decisions that ultimately determine the effectiveness of the shots your team is able to make on the outcome of the game.

Strategy is a decision-making process that, hopefully, leads a team to call the right shots. Tactics, on the other hand, are all about playing those shots optimally. Below are some resources that can help you with improving your rink’s strategy:

Strategy

  • Maurice Wilson outlines some ideas on strategy in an article entitled “The strategy/tactics answer: asking the right questions“, which includes an easy-to-use chart for when a team should “bail out” of an end.
  • Perhaps Bill Tschirhart’s most often-quoted article from his A Pane in the Glass series, A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Dream outlines a ten-step approach to empower your athletes with making strategy and tactics decisions on the ice.
  • Another of Bill’s often-quoted articles is this one: Strategy and Tactics 101, which offers a case study in shot selection.
  • In this article entitled “Strategy: it’s not rocket science or brain surgery“, former National Training Centre coach Bill Tschirhart outlines the difference between strategy and tactics, defines the three general types of teams, and presents a step-by-step approach to shot selection that matches the team’s overall strategy.
  • This excellent strategy guide, entitled “Four-rock Free Guard Zone Strategy” available from the Canadian Curling Association, outlines various scenarios for shot selection at the beginning of an end of play, based on FESRAIN factors.
  • Bill Tschirhart writes about the differences between the competitive and recreational curler in this article entitled “The Dangers Of Learning About Curling Strategy By Watching TV“. Essay #29 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • Glenn Paulley describes Bob Martin’s popular curling strategy game, Tac-Tic-Tee. Tac-Tic-Tee is a fun way to introduce strategy to bantam-aged players.

Tactics

  • Glenn Paulley writes about why the “Pick-Up Sticks” drill, credited to Lynita Delaney of the United States Curling Association and documented in Bill Tschirhart’s Drills To Die For, is his favourite for working with a rink on shot selection and tactics.
  • In essay #24 of the A Pane in the Glass series, Bill Tschirhart describes the “drag effect” that occurs when a pair of touching curling stones are struck – and how the characteristics of the stones’ striking bands dictate the nature of that effect.

Selected Articles