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Hey Coach: The beginnings of Strategy… get ready!

Welcome to another addition of Hey Coach! I have had some great email conversations with interested readers on a number of topics and the number one topic that keeps coming up is strategy.

Let me start by saying that everything that we have talked about prior to this; practice, delivery mechanics and brushing, has a huge impact on what we can talk about in strategy. A team that is underperforming by shooting 50% or less, or a team that is shooting 100%, truly do not need strategy. The team that is underperforming needs a little luck, some basic information to help get some points on the board and likely some technical assistance. The team that is shooting 100% can simply call whatever type of game plan they want as they will make everything!!

Strategy becomes important when our players start shooting above 50%. It becomes like chess and you “skips” out there, can start to think about primary questions in the game. Let’s start with a basic definition of “strategy” that I will pull directly from our coaching resources:

Strategy is your team’s basic means of achieving its intended outcomes in a specified game situation, and provides general guidance as to the types of shots you should select.

If we break this down it provides with some guidance:

“achieving its intended outcomes”: This means you need to have some. Winning would be our primary outcome, but it also comes down to each end and what we would like to do. We have always used the three questions in curling:

  • What do we want?
  • What is acceptable?
  • What is unacceptable?

Sometimes we do not get what we want but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for the ideal end outcome! If we take this thinking process and apply it to the 1st end with hammer we could say that we want 2 points (or more). An acceptable outcome for our team would be taking 1 point and an unacceptable outcome would be giving up a steal (some teams may have slightly different answers). This gives you an idea of how the communication pattern can develop.

“in a specified game situation”: Our answers to the above questions will change depending on the end, the score and whether or not we have hammer. You should begin to see that the permutations are almost endless!

“provides general guidance as to the types of shots you should select”: This is key as your plan should then dictate how you call the game. For example we may decide on the aforementioned plan but it may be later in the game and now it is tied. With the very real possibility of a win on the horizon, we may be slightly more defensive minded and focus our end on the unacceptable. If that were the case we might very likely choose to play a few more hits and look for offensive opportunities later in the end.

This folks is simply the tip of the iceberg in terms of strategy. I will continue on this topic for a few weeks to introduce a number of concepts but also start showing how a few ends can be started that would be examples of how your plan will start to show itself in shot calling.

Yours in curling,
Paul Webster Ch.P.C.