It’s the night before your regular league game and you’re sick. You need a spare. Do you have someone your team knows and trusts ready to fill in for you? Probably not.
If your team struggles to have all four members show up weekly because of travel plans, family commitments, work obligations and illness, you can benefit from having a couple of regular spares you can call on.
The trouble is, it’s not always easy to find a spare because it’s not always easy to be a spare.
Here are some tips to make your spares feel comfortable and want to come back and play for you again.
Whenever possible, the person who is unable to make the game should be in charge of finding a spare. Information about the spare should then be passed on to the team, such as their name, what they look like, and where to meet them prior to the game.
Give your spare as much notice as possible. Although sparing, by nature, tends to be a last-minute gig, you can look ahead to pre-planned occasions like holidays or family or work obligations. Be sure to contact a spare early so they don’t get picked up by some other team with faster speed-dial.
If you’re expecting an unfamiliar spare to show up, seek him or her out before hitting the ice, perhaps in a designated meeting place. Greet them with a friendly smile, thank them for coming out, and introduce them to the rest of the team.Try to make them feel as welcome and comfortable as possible.
Before the game starts, have a brief conversation about what position the spare will be playing, and a loose outline of basic team strategy and style. You may also want to discuss what is considered to be “normal” take-out weight. The spare and the skip need to know if take-out ice is being given for a firm board weight or crazy-heavy parking-lot weight. It’s also important to find out if the spare is more comfortable with shots like peels or throwing heavy take-out weight, or if they find themselves more accurate with less weight and more ice.
Your club rules will indicate whether a spare is allowed to play third or skip. Generally a spare plays either lead or second. This means it’s crucial to discuss sweeping before getting started. For instance, find out who will be sweeping on the left and who on the right, and who is going to be closest to the rock. Also let your spare know how your team likes to communicate weight information to the skip.
Once the game starts, be sure to include your spare in the whole team experience. It’s no fun sparing for a team who shuts a spare out of conversation and/or rattles on incessantly about inside jokes. And don’t forget to ask your spare if you and the team can buy them a thank-you drink in the lounge post-game.
Hopefully these tips will help your team find a couple of spares who want to keep coming back when you need them.[photo caption] Team Koe’s Ben Hebert – seen here with Matt Wozniak and Team Europe’s David Murdoch – joined Team McEwen at the 2015 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Calgary to fill in for missing lead, Denni Neufeld