Skips are a rare breed. Not because a skip needs to be the best player on the team, you don’t, but because skipping can be lonely and stressful. You are alone at the far end with no company but the opposition. You are slightly removed from the rest of your team because of distance and the isolation the game creates. You also have the weight of knowing you will throw last rock weighing down on you at all times. A good skip lives and breathes for the pressure but also likes it when they just need to throw a guard for their last shot.
You have the power to be incredible in this position. Here are some tips and tricks being the very best skip you can be.
- Learn to be strong and decisive. What you say goes. Don’t be afraid to ask for the team’s input when things get hairy but remember you have the final say.
- Know your team. Each of your players is different. Their strengths and weaknesses will vary from player to player. Know these strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to your advantage when calling the game.
- Know your opposition. Watch their every move, learn their strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge to your advantage.
- Be confident with calling line. You are in charge, except of course when you’re throwing. Be decisive and loud enough for the sweepers to hear and know when to call for plan b, plan c, or even d.
- Communicate with your sweepers. They should be giving you calls on weight and you should be answering back with line call and telling them to sweep or not.
- Cultivate the ability to throw a hit right after a draw or a draw right after a hit with ease. It can be difficult to shift gears and be accurate at this. The best way to acquire this skill (unfortunately!) is to practice. Hit the ice and throw draws and hits alternating. Work on calming yourself after the hits so you can be cool enough to have the feather- light touch required for a draw.
- Take your time with strategy but do the bulk of your thinking while the opposition is throwing. Once you take control of the house make a decision about what you’re going to call in a timely manner. You’re not at the Brier… and even if you are there is a time limit and you need to respect it.
- Be supportive of your team by offering the words, “good shot”, or “good try,” after each player throws. Don’t be the skip who berates her players when they miss. Trust me they beat themselves up enough when they don’t make a shot.
- Never lay down the broom without deciding on what shot you’re calling. If you’re unsure of the call it’s unlikely the shot will be made.
- Remember to watch that rocks don’t run into the hack and to keep the area behind the house tidy. Nobody should ever trip over a rock.
Keep these simple rules of thumb in mind every time you play and your team will thank you. Watch next week for more beginner tips.