Some do's, don'ts and
things to try during practice
With the season already under-way in Ottawa, here are
some things to consider when practising.
Most clubs will have members who are qualified coaches, and who can be
asked to help form a practice plan, if not to oversee every practice
session. Every wheelchair user with access to curling ice, should also
have, if they ask, access to coaching expertise at the club. Much of
what makes for good practice with regular curlers, is also good practice
for wheelchair curling, so don't allow unfamiliarity with wheelchairs to
be a bar to receiving coaching help. The CCA also has a brochure that
includes basic information including drills for those new to wheelchair
curling. Ask at your club or contact the CCA's Danny Lamoureux to
receive a copy.
The three elements to delivering the stone, speed, direction and
rotation, are the same for everyone, and rely on consistency. This is
why it is important to practice the way you will play. Bad practice is
worse than no practice. For example; if you need your chair braced to
prevent it moving when you throw, it is useless and probably detrimental
to throw on your own. You will find yourself adjusting for the lack of a
bracer, and the muscle memory benefits of practice won't be relevant
when you compete.
A draw without sweepers will always be a lower percentage shot than a
draw with sweepers. Many wheelchair curlers compensate by relying on
up-weight throws; hits rather than draws, minimizing the importance of
distance and the effect of the curl. There are all sorts of hitting
drills, but you might try this "line drill" when you do not have someone
to hold the broom.
Place two stones 20 feet away and move them 2 feet apart. Now throw as
hard as you can between them. This has the benefit of concentrating not
on where the stone finishes, which is the responsibility of the broom
holder, but on where the stone needs to be when it starts.
It is difficult for throwers to know without being told, whether an up
weight shot started on line. If you can't reliably throw through a 2
foot gap, widen it. Then reduce it as you succeed. Stones are just under
a foot in diameter, so set a "gap target" to pass through before the
stone starts to curl, and move it across the ice so you throw from
Finally, club ice-makers try to keep their ice consistent so their
members know what to expect. That can mean that depending on the venue,
a T-line draw may take anywhere between 11 and 14 seconds to travel the
same distance. The weight you need for a given shot can vary
This is not an issue if you always and only play on the same surface.
You learn how much weight a particular shot needs, and should, with
practice, be able to make small adjustments for changing ice conditions
during a game. Sweeping makes adjustments easier, but what do you do to
learn to "put a bit on" or "take a bit off" to adjust to the very
different ice you might meet in competition.
Try reducing or lengthening the distance that you throw when you
practice. To simulate fast ice, move over the hogline and closer to the
house. To simulate heavy ice, move further back.