Searching for that Maple Leaf?

Achieving World Class Performance – An Important Check Point! Curling athletes who hope to compete with the maple leaf on their back not only have lofty aspirations, they also have an amazing work ethic that motivates them to reach their goals. The women curling athletes and teams that continually reside at the top of the Canadian Team Ranking System know that it takes hard work, dedication to constant improvement, and a true understanding of what their performance should look like week after week as they compete through the long and challenging competitive curling season. To realize these standards, National Team Program athletes and other top contenders go through a thorough assessment and planning process that tells them exactly what specific performance skills they require and enables them, their coaches and consultants, to design a plan to bridge any performance gap that exists. Every spring they analyze their past seasons performance and where they stand in comparison to established performance standards. Skills in the areas of technical proficiency, strategy and tactics, psychological skills and mental strength, nutrition requirements, physical fitness, brushing strength and judgement, communication and team dynamics are some of the areas that every curling athlete examines closely. Their coaches along with CCA and Canadian Sport Centre consultants help them design a detailed plan to improve performance and bridge the gap between their current level of performance in an area and the level to which they require to excel in the environment in which they will compete – the Canada Cup, the Scotties, the Women’s World Curling Championship and ultimately the next Olympic Trials. Of course hard work in the off season pays off at this time of the season where teams have been able to test their skills week after week on the 2010-2011 World Curling Tour (see Many athletes and teams had high hopes when they walked into their first competition just a few months ago, and now have a pretty good idea of how prepared they really were by the results they have posted on the tour. The women’s teams are now in Week 12 of the Tour, only one week away from the all important Canada Cup that will take place in Medicine Hat beginning December 1. What we know for sure is that definitive performance standards must be met or surpassed to deliver a world class curling performance. Because of the strength and depth of our National Team Program we know exactly what those performance standards are. We know that to win a Scotties Tournament of Hearts a lead will have to play close to 90%, a second will have to play in 82 – 84%, a third 83+% and a skip 80%. These Performance Standards challenge everyone who plays a role within the National Team Program. It defines our role in supporting the athlete in their pursuit of that standard. It is our job to continually determine what a world class performance standard is, assist our training athletes in analyzing the gap between their current level of performance and the desired one and assist them in bridging that gap with the creation of a systematic plan. Some of the teams have enjoyed consistent early results this fall, and others may be poised to make a late season rally, and there are also a few newcomers to the top of the CTRS rankings which is a very positive indicator. With new teams challenging the veterans it motivates everyone to constantly stay sharp and to strive for continuous improvement. The result is that Canada remains competitive on the world stage and the maple leaf is still within the reach of many!