House Call: Practice with Purpose

Have you ever wondered about the guy at your curling club (there’s usually at least one at every club) who practices more than any other recreational player you know but still isn’t very good? What is it he’s doing wrong? He clearly has passion and dedication, he may even have a decent delivery… but there is something holding his progress back. Practice. You’re probably scratching your head right now and thinking, “But he practices more than anyone I know. Isn’t that enough?” The answer is no. Actually he could probably practice less if he’d change the way he practices but the biggest trouble is likely that he’s not practicing with purpose. I can chuck as many rocks as I want and I’ll probably get more flexible but other than that, even if I keep at it with dogged dedication, I’m likely not going to see the improvement I want. The trick is to have a purpose. For example, I’d like to have better control of my draw weight. Next, you need a plan. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, you don’t even have to write it down, but you need to know how it is you’re going to work towards gaining better control of your draw weight with your practice. If you’re curling in a Greenhorn or Novice league where you have an instructor out with you during games you may be able to ask them what drills they’d suggest you work on. You can also ask at the club if they have a drills manual you could flip through to select some appropriate drills. Try simply googling “beginner curling drills” and see what you can find. You can also google, “Drills to Die for”; it’s a great resource by Bill Tschirhart (previous director of the National Training Centre amongst other admirable coaching feats). Once you have a couple of drills selected, or even just one, get out there and give it a whirl. Note how you do in your next game, if you see an improvement that’s wonderful. Keep at it. If you see no improvement at first don’t despair just keep working on the drill in practice or perhaps try a different drill that works on the same skill. Once you have purpose and a plan you’re bound to see improvement. Watch next week for more beginner tips.