I often get questions from beginners about stopwatches and how to use them. The truth is, while stopwatches can be a valuable tool, they are one best left alone when you’re starting out in curling.
The reason is, when you’re a beginner, you are still honing your natural weight judgement instincts and stopwatches distract from these all important gut feelings.
A great way to develop your natural sweeping instinct is to hit the ice for a team practice session. First designate several zones. A simple way start is to call 0 a hogged rock, 1 just over the hogline to halfway to the house, 2 halfway to the house to tight to the house, 3 is in the house but above the tee-line, 4 is in the house and behind the tee-line, and 5 is through the house.
Have one person throw several rocks in a row. Everyone else on the team should stand at the close hogline facing the thrower. As soon as the thrower releases everyone at the hogline must guess which zone the rock will end up in. Be sure the guesses are said out loud as this will get you used to communicating your thoughts on weight to the skip.
Your first guess may not be right, it may not even be close, but as the rock moves down the sheet the trick is to continue to adjust thoughts on weight and relay them to your skip. Eventually you’ll get the hang of it and start to get more correct guesses than incorrect.
Now that your team has agreed on weight judgement zones try it in a game situation. Don’t worry about giving the skip the wrong zone as long as you’re communicating your skills are bound to improve. Once you have mastered this and are consistently judging weight instinctively you can consider a stopwatch. Remember the stopwatch is just a tool and you shouldn’t ignore your gut feelings even if they contradict the watch.
Watch next week for more beginner tips.