Pebbles to Boulders: ‘Not Often Thought Of’ Key to Success Part 2

What more can you say within the pre-season information package? Well there is plenty and it is not difficult to say. For the new curlers and as a reminder to the experienced curlers (and their parents), is the suggestion for what is best for clothing and footwear for curling. New curlers and their non-curling parents may not know the requirements for equipping themselves. Believe it or not, I even had prospective curlers show up to the rink and until it was explained in detail and they saw it for themselves, they did not know curling was played on ice. So it would be a good idea to assume that new curlers do not know anything about the sport of curling and to go over the equipment needs piece by piece. Since that occasion, I started to include a single paper sheet of information about clothing. Helmets are a very good idea. Hockey helmets are too bulky with the face shields; so cycling helmets are preferred as a lightweight head protection. Most kids are not afraid of falling, slipping and sliding on the ice, as they do not have far to fall, but until they become more confident on the ice surface with balance and orientation of where they are, for the newest young curlers, helmets are strongly suggested. Now don’t think they will be the only kids with helmets and they might look ‘nerdy’, plenty of other parents are thinking the same thing. Kids and helmets go together these days with other activities such as cycling and skate boarding. Obviously the suggestion of warm clothing is next. Jacket, light sweater, track pants are ideal. Pant wear that is stretchy and provides for flexibility is best. Cotton blue jeans are not warm winter attire, plus do not provide for flexibility. Try as you might, you may run into the situation where you cannot separate a kid from their jeans. Oh well! Sooner or later they will come around, as they see other kids curling improve due to their flexibility. So do not push the ‘no jeans’ suggestion, it’ll happen in time. Remember the warmth of hands, so suggest mitts or gloves. I have seen so many kids with their hands pulled up their shirtsleeves, trying to keep their hands warm, it is almost funny when you ask them if they are cold and they say,”No!”. Again, sooner or later, they will realize that hand warmth is a good idea. Footwear! There is no requirement for kids to wear curling shoes, but clean footwear is a must on the ice surface. Besides, curling shoes (and grippers) do not come in many sizes smaller than 5. As well, in most cases, parents are not wanting to invest lots of money for special shoes until the child is sure curling is what they to do. A low cost alternative to the curling shoe is a rubber soled court shoe or skate board shoe. Even the little runners with Velcro straps at some department stores make for good curling shoes for the small children. Make sure there are no poly additives in the mix of the sole, for the plastic can make a slippery sole on the shoe. Doing some research in your neighbourhood and providing suggestions of stores to shop, goes along way to helping out the parents prepare the little ones for curling. The parents will thank you. Last but not least, a very important written communication is the season schedule. I will tell you now, that most families take that piece of paper and post it in the kitchen and likely on the refrigerator, with a curling rock fridge magnet. Every curling club plans out the season before the fall. (If they don’t, then what is stopping them?) Therefore, it is easy to list the dates made available for Little Rocks. It is just as important to list the dates that the Little Rocks are not curling, for 1) it helps to eliminate the question, ‘why we are not curling next week’, plus 2) it helps to promote the special events taking place at the club which have preempted the kids activity. Families make plans over the winter; therefore a well-organized schedule is of major benefit to the structure and attendance of the program. Verbal communication is a valued asset to keep the whole group informed. It does not take much time and could even be entertaining, to make announcements at the beginning of each curling session. Remember, you are speaking to the Little Rockers, so target your dialogue accordingly and make sure the parents are listening too. These announcements could include items such as, what is to take place today, the curling tip of the day, any news item or a reminder of special events. Once the kids have left the lounge for the ice surface and the area is quiet, an extra service for the parents left behind the glass might be information about what is taking place on the ice. Some parents may not know curling, so an informed dialogue of curling instruction goes along way for their understanding and reinforces why we do certain progressions on the ice. I also found that personal one-on-one conversation with parents made them feel part of the curling day. From time to time, speak with each of the parents to tell them that little Joey is really doing well, or that Suzy is a happy little girl and a pleasure to instruct. There is nothing more enjoyable for a parent than to hear about their children in a positive, constructive fashion. It only takes a few moments to make people feel happy. Let’s face it, if people feel happy and gain a sense of belonging, they will return. For curling parents, if they return, so will the kids, cause who is driving. So bottom-line, if your program is organized with effective lines of communication, you have quietly created a key to success that is not often thought of as being very important. Communicate with the parents, for they are the decision makers for the family activities.