With the knowledge we now have about how best to create optimum friction on the ice surface, it is extremely important that you, as sweeper, utilize your body position to ensure maximum downward pressure.
Let’s talk first about establishing the ideal body position. I’ve included a photograph of one of our La Releve athletes, Brandon Klassen, to illustrate an extremely athletic and pressure producing body position.
Notice that Brandon’s head is over top of the brush head and his back is relatively flat with at least one leg outside of his ‘hipline’ ensuring maximum downward pressure on the brush head. [a modified push-up position] This definitely makes creating pressure easier as he is utilizing body weight as opposed to only using arm strength to create downward force. The more body weight you distribute down into the ice, the more difficult it becomes to keep the brush head moving at a rapid rate so upper body strength is also a critical element in effective sweeping.
The combination of “pressure” and “speed” will maximize the results that you are able to produce.
When observing a sweeping position that doesn’t maximize downward pressure you will notice that the brush is usually extended away from the athlete’s body and the majority of body weight is centered over the feet [virtually a walking position] and the legs are directly underneath the hips. The athlete is likely only generating 10-15% of the force they could produce by simply employing Brandon’s position.
Food for Thought
This is one area of curling that I believe many teams can and should improve. For a front end player, 75% of what you do is sweeping so in theory, 75% of what you practice should be sweeping! Check your brushing position during the next video session. Use a bathroom scale to determine what sweeping position enables you to produce the greatest amount of downward pressure. What you learn might surprise you!