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How to Curl


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Delivery

The “standard” curling delivery has changed a lot over the years as the quality of equipment and ice has improved. In the earliest days, curlers stood in one place and simply tossed rocks as far as they could. In the 1940’s, Canadian, Ken Watson, introduced the sliding flat-foot delivery. This gave curlers greater control over the rock's speed and direction. The US Curling Association (USCA) recommends the contemporary version of Watson’s delivery and it is what we teach here. The web site, “CurlTech: the Curling School” details this technique. We give a quick intro below.

Don’t worry if you can’t manage the crouch or low lunge – everyone adapts the slide in their own way, and we’ll help you find something that works for your body and goals. The most important thing is that you have fun!

The Basics

The curling delivery is a lot like a golf or baseball swing – it’s about a shift in momentum. In golf, for example, you start in a neutral position, bring the club back, then swing forward, following through to your target. It’s the same idea in curling: Start in a comfortable crouch. Make a small rocking movement forward, then a bigger move backwards. Finally, step forward and slide out, finishing with your hand towards the target. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Comfortable crouch (clean your rock and get instructions from the skip about where to aim and how hard to throw)

2. Forward press (get the rock unstuck from the ice and start your body moving)

3. Draw back (now you’re the “coiled spring”)

4. Step out and slide (Start the rock moving forward, bring your sliding foot forward, then, as your body starts to drop, push off and extend into the lunge)

5. Release – (gently rotate the rock and finish with your hand pointing towards the target)

Right handers will push off with their right foot and slide on their left; vice-versa for lefties. The force that moves the rock should come from your legs and body drop, not your arm. To help with balance, most curlers hold a broom or a stabilizer. There are lots of ways to hold each – it’s mostly a matter of personal preference. Even though you get a balance aide, try to keep as much of your weight as possible on your slide foot with only a little on your broom and back foot. You don’t want to lean on the rock - otherwise you’ll fall when you release it!

More Tips

The best deliveries have a few things in common:

• Balance – Good shooters have a balanced delivery, and that usually means having their sliding foot centered under their upper body.
• Square shoulders – Keep your body (knees, hips, shoulders, head) square to your target through the entire delivery and you’ll have an easier time staying on line.
• Gentle grip on rock – Don’t strangle the handle – just guide the rock with your fingers.
• Eyes on the target – It sounds simple, but it’s easy to get caught looking down at the rock or your feet to be sure they’re in the right position.
• Calm - Take a few seconds to calm yourself before you shoot and you’ll have more consistent results.

The Curl

When the rock travels down the ice, it will arc or “curl” to the left or right. The spin you put on the rock determines which way it goes and how much it curls. There are only two turns, of course: clockwise and counter clockwise. For both turns, you’ll start with the handle angled out, then bring it to the center as you release. (For the clockwise turn, the handle will start pointed towards 10 o’clock and rotate in to noon; for the counter clockwise turn, the handle will start pointed towards 2 o’clock and rotate in to noon.) Sometimes, you’ll hear the terms “in-turn” and “out-turn.” For right handers, the in-turn is the clockwise turn, because your hand comes in as you turn the rock; for lefties, it’s the opposite. Similarly, for right handers, the out-turn is the counter clockwise turn, because your hand comes out as you turn the rock; and vice versa for lefties.

The rock should only rotate between 1 ½ and 3 ½ times as it travels down the ice. Lots of spin will make the rock run straight. If you put no turn on the rock at all, it will drift and eventually pick up a turn, but it will be unpredictable.

Sweeping

Sweeping melts the ice in front of the rock, causing it to go straighter and farther. Usually, when curlers want to put the rock on the center of the target, they try to throw the rock several feet short and have their sweepers move it to the correct spot. Strong sweepers on good ice can move a rock 10-20 feet. To sweep legally, you must move the brush back and forth across the entire running surface of the rock. (The running surface is the ~ 5” diameter ring on the bottom of the rock that makes contact with the ice.)

There are many different techniques for sweeping, but we have a few general recommendations:
• New curlers should sweep with their body facing in the direction they’re traveling. This makes it easier to get instructions from the skip and avoid tripping on rocks already in play.
• Effective sweeping is a combination of speed and pressure, so we recommend keeping your body over the head of the broom as much as possible.
• Holding the broom higher on the handle can increase your leverage and power.