Team Dynamics

Northern Ontario skip Krista McCarville third Kendra Lilly and coach Lorraine Lang in draw eleven action at the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Grande Praire, Alberta

As a team sport, curling is unique; there is no other sport that requires the high level of interaction and communication amongst team members that curling does. Here’s an except from Smart Curling [1, pp. 104-105], authored by Saskatchewan’s Vera Pezer, a four-time Canadian Ladies’ Curling Champion and former Olympic coach:

Teamwork doesn’t guarantee wins but success is unlikely without it. Over time, my work with coaches and athletes has taught me that no sport relies on teamwork the way that curling does…. Clearly, for a team to be successful, teammates must communicate effectively and rely closely on each other. But being a cohesive team also involves being patient with teammates’ different personalities and accepting the leadership that is inherent in the role of the skip but expressed in other forms by teammates. More than anything, teamwork requires curlers to set aside their individual egos for the good of the team.

[1] Vera Pezer (2008). Smart Curling: how to perfect your game through mental training. Fifth House Limited, Calgary, Alberta. ISBN 978-1-897252-03-1.

Team Dynamics

Here are some resources on the coaching of team dynamics that may help your rink:

  • In this article entitled “It’s Team Dynamics, Stupid“, former National Training Centre coach Bill Tschirhart discusses the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of team dynamics, and the importance of teamwork for high-performance curling teams. Essay #6 in Bill’s A Pane in The Glass series.
  • Former Wilfrid Laurier University coach Maurice Wilson discusses aspects of team dynamics in an article entitled “Not all groups are teams and how to tell the difference“.
  • In this essay by Bill Tschirhart and Lyndsay Sparkes, the authors address the question of “What Makes a Champion“. The answer isn’t in how well the members of a rink throw a curling stone. Essay #10 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In this essay, Toby McDonald, former third for Newfoundland skip Jack MacDuff, who won Newfoundland’s only Brier championship in 1980, discusses the selection and role of the fifth, or “alternate”, player. Essay #7 in Bill Tschirhart’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • Bill Tschirhart discusses the self-assessment process that should occur with every competitive curling team at the end of the curling season in this essay entitled “The Awkward Time of the Year“. Essay #5 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In this article entitled “Performance Before Friendship“, Bill Tschirhart includes several points by Calgary coach Ernie Comerford on how to handle personnel changes on a curling team. Essay #8 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail“, Bill Tschirhart discusses the need for planning the entire curling season, including the off-season, in order to achieve peak performance. Essay #11 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In this essay entitled “It Takes a Big Man“, Bill Tschirhart relates the story of University of Waterloo athletes Tony Rowlandson, Kate McKellar, Sean Follis, and Kim Shortt and how this foursome emerged victorious in the 1994 Ontario Junior Mixed Curling Championships. Essay #12 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In this essay by Bill Tschirhart, Bill comments on the need to monitor team dynamics so that, when the “oil light” comes on, the coach can help the team recover from their internal issues and move forward. Essay #19 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • Bill Tschirhart outlines the practice of “Stop-Start-Continue” as it relates to a curling team. Essay #20 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In this essay by Bill Tschirhart, entitled “Stars Sell Tickets”, Bill muses about individual MVP awards and the importance of teamwork in curling. Essay #17 in Bill’s A Pane in the Glass series.
  • In this article by John Paul Newport of the Wall Street Journal, United States Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger describes the team dynamics management he employed to lift Team USA to the Ryder Cup golf championship in 2006. Article #36 in Bill Tschirhart’s A Pane in the Glass series.

Selected Articles