Inside the NTP (National Team Program)

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that my job is real. Everyday I get to rub shoulders with some of the most amazing women in Canadian sport who are doing absolutely exceptional things – the elite performers in women’s curling. As National Coach/ National Team Program Manager my job is to ensure that Canadian Women representing Canada on the world stage are prepared and ready to challenge for a place on the Podium.

Team Canada's Cheryl Bernard delivers a rock at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The National Team Program identifies and supports the training and development needs of athletes that are aspiring to compete internationally and whose ultimate destination is to become the Olympic Team. The Program provides the top ranked teams in the country with training and supports them both financially and with services. The number of teams in the Program in a particular year depends on the proximity to the Olympics and on the amount of funding available. To qualify for the National Team Program each athlete must demonstrate their commitment to a detailed Annual Training Plan which involves:
  • A complete debrief of the past seasons performance
  • Gap analysis and goal setting
  • Detailed planning
  • The creation of an Annual Training Plan
  • Recruitment of High Performance consultants to align with the needs of the plan
  • Continuous assessment and alignment with performance standards
  • Ongoing communication with the National Team Program Manager
The Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) is a point system used to rank curling teams across Canada. The top 6 teams on the CTRS at the end of the 2009-10 Season make up the 2010-11 National Team Program. Those teams are:
  • Jennifer Jones, Manitoba
  • Cheryl Bernard, Alberta
  • Kelly Scott, Kelowna, BC
  • Amber Holland, Saskatchewan
  • Shannon Kleibrink, Alberta
  • Stefanie Lawton, Saskatchewan
There has been a lot of reference lately to the fact that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert. This concept was originally attributed to Dr. Anders Ericsson, recently made famous by ‘Outliers’ author Malcolm Gladwell, but brought to curling many years ago by our own performance consulting expert Istvan Balyi. In curling terms that means that an athlete would need to spend almost 20 hours a week for 10 years to reach a world class level of competency. What does this mean to a young woman with a full time career and perhaps a family in addition to that? I see dedication, commitment, persistence and absolute love of the sport and competition! These are fascinating women – each one unique with her own story and her own way of making it all work. Over the next weeks and months I am going to tell you about these remarkable women and what they do to achieve their performance goals. I can tell you that right now they are in their final Pre-Season preparation phase getting ready to hit the tour competitions in a few short weeks. Stay tuned! The National Team Program is supported by Own the Podium, Sport Canada and the Canadian Curling Association. By Elaine Dagg-Jackson, National Coach – Women