Hey Coach: Individual Practice – Part Two

As promised in an earlier blog, I am continuing down the path of enhancing individual practice. I recently read a book by Dr. Bob Rotella called Golf is a Game of Confidence and found it to be a fascinating read for our sport. The key message that is very applicable for curling is the element of confidence – and how to build it. I found his perspective on how practice can help to be a key learning point. I often work with athletes in high-pressure events and once in awhile they find themselves doubting their entire skill set based on the result of missing a couple of shots; and they even try to fix things in the middle of the game! This same athlete may have thrown 500 practice rocks the previous week and and knew going in to the competition that their slide was solid…their release was solid. However when a couple of ugly misses show their head they began to doubt themselves. This is when a coach has to put the athlete’s focus back on believing in the techniques they developed in practice – if the athlete has this to fall back on, they will not be trying to fix things during a game! I have yet to work with a consistent 100% shooter in our sport… as every athlete will miss a few shots per game. So if you are an 80% career player you should actually get quite excited if you flash your first two hits of the game because you have sigificantly increased the odds of making your next ten shots! Lol, however the key point is to stay calm and stay positive. Now back to the drills, next drill: Graduated Slides – at a target. Find a specific target. It should be something you place on the ice so you have a defined target to hold yourself accountable to. I like using this drill, first, as a warm up without a rock. Take your first slide to the back-line, coming to a complete stop with your throwing hand holding an imaginary rock and pointing at your target (not on the ice, your shoe or your broom). Then try to get up out of your slide position only using your legs – no hands or broom. Take the next four slides to the t-line, top 12 foot, halfway between the top house and hog and then to the hog-line. Each time focus on your target as you come to a complete stop and count to three holding your slide position with your knee off the ice prior to getting up using leg and core strength. The key part of this simple drill to is build strength and to develop confidence that your set up in the hack enables you to hit a very specific target. As you begin to slide further and further towards the hotline you are developing weight control as you are utilizing the large muscle groups in your legs to produce a little more body speed each time……kind of like curling, eh? This type of warm up prior to any practice or game will help you to improve your performance and your confidence.