House Call: Instructional Differences

Over the years I have worked with many different instructors both as a curler and as an instructor. I learn something new from each person I work with. They have all helped shape me to be the instructor I am today. I don’t always agree with the other coaches and instructors I work with but I always take something away from the experience. My hope is that the instruction techniques I have honed over the years will help other instructors as well.

Canadian Junior Men's curling champions Brendan Bottcher, Evan Asmussen, Landon Bucholz, Bryce Bucholz consult with coach Bernie Panich (Photo Michael Burns)

I occasionally hear from both students and other instructors, “That’s not what (so and so) said…” I used to think this was a bad thing. I would wonder about my advice to the person. Was I giving out the correct information? Is there only one way to teach curling? I would worry about contradicting another coach and sometimes water down my advice. But I have since come to the conclusion that it is a good thing to have differences of opinion. That is how our sport and its technique will evolve. What is important is that we all have a common goal and that we’re all saying similar things. When I get into a situation where I am offering advice that contradicts what the student or coach has been told, I always make sure to give as much detail as possible about why I’m telling them what I’m telling them. I also give some thought to what they mentioned they’ve been told. Sometimes what they’ve been told is well worth listening to. Perhaps you’ll learn a different technique, or perhaps a new modification for an injury. However, sometimes the other coach simply has outdated information. If this is the case I try not to be condescending to the other coach. The last thing I want to do is insult another coach when perhaps the student misinterpreted or the information that was given to them is out of date. I simply explain to the student why the technique has changed and move on. There are many different ways to teach curling and as long as we all have a common goal and try to learn from each other the future of instruction in our sport is safe. So next time you’re out on the ice and you hear a different way of doing things don’t just brush it off; pay attention, it could be something worth trying, or at least, worth investigating.