Ask any competitive curler about their schedule and don’t be surprised if you hear them use the word ‘grind.’ Between playing games, practices, team meetings, personal training, and getting a good sleep there usually isn’t a lot of time for anything else.
Something all curlers, whether they’re competing at their local club or chasing an Olympic dream, need to be aware of is the time when that grind becomes too much. While it’s important to work hard to improve, when should the line be drawn in order to avoid injury?
Jim Wilson is the coach for Team John Epping and he’s been very careful when planning his team’s schedule while preparing for the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials, presented by Monsanto.
“The grind of the curling circuit can lead to a lot of little injuries. We’ve seen shoulder injuries, knee and groin injuries as well as lower back injuries,” Wilson said.
There might not be any other coach at the Roar of the Rings who knows more about the prevention of injuries in sport. Wilson is a chiropractor and directly relates his experience in that field to the curling world.
“Knee, groin, lower back and shoulders are the four areas that you have to really be careful with,” Wilson said. “Shoulders because of the sweeping and your lower back especially because of the explosiveness of the delivery.”
Curling coaches come from many different backgrounds. Some are previous players, others focus on the mental side of the game and others, like Wilson, know how curlers can make the most of their physical performance through training and injury prevention.
However, it’s a lot harder than just following a nutrition and exercise plan. A lot of variables need to be taken into account.
“The biggest thing for (Team Epping) because they’ve all employed personal trainers that they’ve all been working with individually is trying to design programs for each of them that is sport-specific,” Wilson said. “The biggest thing that I always try to talk to the guys about is making sure that the things their personal trainer was doing was sport-specific rather than just going and doing a complete fitness routine.”
In addition to eating healthy and exercising, all members of Team Epping have visited Wilson’s chiropractic office, making sure their joints and spine are perfectly balanced in relation to the amount of exercise they’re doing.
Epping and his team will avoid the grind and focus on practice in the weeks leading up to the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings this Dec. 1-8 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Sometimes small injuries are unavoidable during the curling season, but Wilson believes the rest and preparation will give his guys the chance to rehab any muscles or joints that need tending.
Wilson has been the official coach of Team Epping for around two years now, but has been involved with the team closer to three. He was introduced to Epping through Olympic silver-medallist Mike Harris when both men curled with him in Ontario. Epping asked Wilson if he would be interested in being involved with the team and it’s a decision he has never regretted.
“It’s probably the biggest passion I’ve had in my life, other than family. As a sport it’s been the biggest passion I’ve had in my life in the past 20 years,” he said.
Now Wilson and team fifth Trevor Wall are putting together Team Epping’s schedule for the Roar of the Rings — everything from when they eat to when they rest will be set for them. It will keep them busy, but it’s a pace the team is used to.
They’re curlers after all. And they know all about the grind.