All curlers should do their best to get out and practice as often as possible. I understand it can be difficult to find the time but if you can squeeze it in the effects over can be invaluable. Next week I will spend time discussing what it is you should be practicing. This week I want to talk about some things you should know before you start to practice.
- It is best to book practice ice ahead of time; this way the icemaker knows you’re coming and can have a sheet prepped for you. Also if you call ahead to book the club can tell you if there is in fact ice available and they can also keep valuable stats on who is using the ice and when.
- If you’re unable to make it to the club for a practice (or a game for that matter) call to cancel the ice as soon as possible. This way it can be given to someone else if possible and the icemaker doesn’t waste time prepping a sheet that isn’t going to be used.
- Always be sure to cover up the hack when you’re practicing. The impact of a rock running into the hack can cause a lot of damage. When the ice around the hack is cracked or the hack itself ends up full of ice chips the rest of your practice will be less enjoyable, you’ll make crappy conditions for the next person to use the ice, and the icemaker might see fit to hang you by your toenails in the locker room!
Usually the club will have carpets you can place over top the hack to cover it up. You can also place a rock (gently) on top of the carpet to offer more protection. Some clubs have hack guards; these are usually made of wood and rubber (although I just saw an ad for one made of aluminum). They go around the hack and are long enough to be braced by the backboards so they are held in place. If a rock is going to run into the hack it will just bounce off the hack guard instead. These are particularly useful if you’re practicing big takeout weight as they offer more protection than a carpet with a rock on top of it.
- Make sure you keep an eye on the clock to make sure you’re done at the correct time. If you wish to practice longer than you’re booked speak to the manager or an ice tech to see if it’s possible. There may be someone wanting to practice after you or there may be ice maintenance to be done.
- If you plan to practice before a game DO NOT PRACTICE ON THE SHEET YOU’RE SCHEDULED TO PLAY ON! This really irks the other team because it’s seen as a way to get a leg up on how the ice is running even if the ice is repebbled and nipped after you throw. Save yourself the hassle and just find a different sheet to practice on.
- Last but not least, be sure to leave the sheet the way you found it. The rocks should all be at the home end and they should be put in the corners in number order (one goes in the corner). If you borrowed a broom and slider be sure to put them away.
Please don’t be intimidated by this list of Etiquette. Believe me, I want you to practice and enjoy yourself while you’re doing it. These ideas will just make things better for you and others. Don’t worry if you forget something, lightning will not strike you down! Now get out on the ice and have some fun!
Watch next week for more beginner tips.