Whether you are a curler, a coach or just a supporter of
wheelchair curling, here are some tips to help you make the most of the
Successful delivery of a rock depends on stable technique. You have to
have balance, a repeatable stroke and full commitment to your motion. As
my wife pointed out to me recently, it's more akin to a golf swing than
a regular curling delivery.
A couple of years ago I
wrote an article discussing the importance of technique, and stand
by what I wrote then. Today I would more strongly recommend an off-side
hand brace. Almost everyone who begins their delivery motion sitting
upright and square to the target would benefit [see images].
A right hand brace for a left handed thrower
A brace allows you to commit your body weight forward
while keeping your shoulders square, which should mean increased speed
and greater accuracy. Where the brace is attached, and at what angle,
will depend on your body shape and delivery motion. Bringing your
non-throwing hand forward, rather than anchoring it behind your throwing
hand, reduces your body's tendency to twist, and aids accuracy. A brace
that allows you to commit weight forward without losing balance, adds
We know that practice makes perfect, but that is true only if it is
perfect practice. For example, if you need your chair to be held so that
it does not move during delivery, then any solo practice, beyond perhaps
weight control, may be counter-productive. You have to practice as you
mean to play.
Weight control is so difficult with such a short period of contact with
the rock during delivery. If you spend almost all your playing time on
the same ice, it will be especially difficult to adapt in competition to
a different surface. One way to simulate fast or slow ice conditions is
to vary your chair's location at practice. You are not limited by the
hack, so there's no reason not move 3 yards forward to simulate faster
We all do some things just because we can, especially if they involve
technology. Coaches are not immune, and shots are charted and graphs
produced, and tendencies examined and it's all very clever until you
have to come to the hogline cold, with the game on the line, and push
that rock 40 yards based on just a second or two's contact with the
Practice statistics are always inflated by lack of pressure and the
ability to throw multiple stones. Waiting 20 minutes between shots
during competition is, I suspect, a major reason why open draws into the
rings fail 40 percent or more of the time, even at the highest level.
Don't let success at practice make you over ambitious in competition.
Good shots, great shots, are not impossible, and they're the ones we
tend to remember. Beyond the game-breaking miss we forget that misses
predominate. Good game calling allows for a 50% game and reaps the
benefit if the team throws 60%. Disaster looms the other way round.
Does this suggest a hitting or a draw game? I think games are won with
draws, not hits. The margin for error is far greater. (And if you are
playing a team likely to be better than you, junk up the front and the
middle of the house to even up the odds.)
How you can help
Finally we all have an interest in seeing our sport grow and we should
ask ourselves what we can do as individuals to make that happen. I carry
cards with local wheelchair curling information. Whenever I see a
wheelchair user, I stop and ask if they have considered playing, and I
give them a card. One of the current Team Canada members is playing
today because our paths crossed at Costco, so it works!
I have also been involved in drafting a brochure that will be going out
to all the clubs, suggesting ways of introducing wheelchair curling.
I'll put it online here later.
Successful programs have one thing in common - a person who believes
that wheelchair curling should be played at their club, and is prepared
to commit themselves to making that happen. Resources exist to help. We
just need an advocate in every club. The hardest wheelchair curler to
reach is the first one. Can you help?
September 3, 2009