I had a number of lessons this past week with curlers transitioning from a lift delivery to a no-lift delivery.
There are several reasons curlers decide to make the switch:
1. Using your whole body to move the rock rather than just your arm is much easier on the body.
2. In general the no-lift delivery allows the thrower a better chance of being on line because the rock is never removed from the line.
3. The no-lift technique is often easier on the ice in front of the hack. Less damage and cracking is caused when the rock is not coming down onto the ice with uneven force.
Unfortunately the transition to a no-lift delivery is often made only half-way. This confuses and frustrates the thrower and negatively impacts their game. If you are making this type of transition here are some steps to remember:
1. Line up your hack foot with the skip’s broom. This is the point from which you initiate your body’s direction when you push out of the hack. If your foot is lined up properly in the hack, the rest of your body should then have an easier time following along this line. Remember, once your foot is lined up, make sure your knee follows that line, then your hips, then your shoulders, then your nose! Think about that silly children’s song: “The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…” If you start with your body on line you’ll have an easier time staying that way once you get into your slide.
2. Line up your rock with your hack foot. That’s right. Get your rock off the centre line. You no longer need the room to lift it. You spent all that time lining up your body, so you might as well make sure your rock is on line too.
3. Keep your shoulders square. You don’t have to worry about picking the rock up anymore so just keep them straight.
4. When you lift up your hips, draw your rock back to your hack foot. Again, you know your foot’s on line so keep the rock on line too.
5. When you push forward, bring your slider foot in behind the rock. You should be lined up with the broom, going back to the rock, then your slider foot, then your trailing leg… like a little train!
The last remnant of the lift delivery to get rid of is how the turns are imparted. There are a few points to remember:
1. The Grip: To grip the rock, keep your four fingers together. Grip the middle of the handle. Bring your thumb over the handle but only use the side of your thumb for gripping, not the pad. Keep your wrist up nice and high.
2. The Turn: Start the turn when you are sitting in the hack by pointing the closed end of the handle towards 10 o’ clock or 2 o’ clock. When you let go, you should release a tad before noon and think about following through with a handshake release or think about being able to look down your hand at the broom after you release.
If you integrate these small changes into your delivery you will start to see a positive change in your line and accuracy. Keep in mind that once you make a change to your delivery, you may see a dip in your performance, but it will improve if you stick with it and actually bring you to new heights of accuracy. Practice hard and you’re sure to find the transition less torturous.