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How to Curl
The â€œstandardâ€ 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 1940â€™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 Watsonâ€™s delivery and it is what we teach here. The web site, â€œCurlTech: the Curling Schoolâ€ details this technique. We give a quick intro below.
Donâ€™t worry if you canâ€™t manage the crouch or low lunge â€“ everyone adapts the slide in their own way, and weâ€™ll help you find something that works for your body and goals. The most important thing is that you have fun!
The curling delivery is a lot like a golf or baseball swing â€“ itâ€™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. Itâ€™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. Hereâ€™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 youâ€™re the â€œcoiled springâ€)
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 â€“ (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 â€“ itâ€™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 donâ€™t want to lean on the rock - otherwise youâ€™ll fall when you release it!
The best deliveries have a few things in common:
â€¢ Balance â€“ Good shooters have a balanced delivery, and that usually means having their sliding foot centered under their upper body.
When the rock travels down the ice, it will arc or â€œcurlâ€ 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, youâ€™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 oâ€™clock and rotate in to noon; for the counter clockwise turn, the handle will start pointed towards 2 oâ€™clock and rotate in to noon.) Sometimes, youâ€™ll hear the terms â€œin-turnâ€ and â€œout-turn.â€ For right handers, the in-turn is the clockwise turn, because your hand comes in as you turn the rock; for lefties, itâ€™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 Â½ and 3 Â½ 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 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 ~ 5â€ 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: