Developing a smooth and accurate delivery is not guaranteed to make a rock go where it should, nor is it guaranteed to win any games. Curling is a game of consistency, however, and if you develop a consistent slide, you are more likely able to repeat shots and make more draws when your skip calls them. Practice your ABC's and you are well on your way towards becoming a better curler.
Alignment refers to the invisible line from the hack foot to the skips broom. Remember your target is always the skip's broom. Your body and the rock should travel down this invisible line through the release. Alignment is set when you step into the hack and position your foot along the line of delivery. Your alignment should continue in your delivery, even after you release the rock.
A good exercise to practice alignment is explained by USCA certified instructor and coach Jon Mielke. He suggests using a plastic cup to keep your alignment in mind as you finish your delivery. Place the cup on the near hog line and slide out to it as if it were the skips broom. If you find yourself coming out to the right or left of it, try adjusting your alignment to stay focused on the line of delivery.
Balance is vital to many sports, especially a game played on ice. Once a curler gets over the initial awkwardness of the ice surface, balance in delivery becomes the next challenge. When you are throwing, remember to keep your weight balanced on your slider foot. To make this easier, try keeping your slider foot flat on the ice and turning your toes slightly out. It makes the running surface larger and more stable and improves your balance. There are many exercises to improve your balance, but even something as simple as standing on one leg can make your slider foot stronger.
Curling is the essence of the sport, yet the curl and release is often only an afterthought. Jon mentions the million-dollar slide and a two-cent release. It's clear that the follow through of a good delivery is what makes the difference between a poor shot and a good one. It can be difficult for new curlers to realize that a stone should only make about 2.5 to 3 revolutions while traveling down the ice. Any more and the rock can resist curling, any less and the shot has a risk of being a "dead handle". To get the proper number of turns, the handle should be positioned either at 10 o'clock or at 2 o'clock and always released at 12.
If you are more interested in more tips from Jon Mielke, you can check out his monthly column in Curling News. He has also given us permission to display past articles on the GFCC website. Click here for the link. He covers many topics from sweeping to basic strategy and encourages curlers to set goals for the season. There are many other instructors and strategy resources out there available to curlers, but Jon covers the basics in a simple and concise manner. His articles are a quick read if you are interested in something simple to better your game.
Do you have a favorite book or instructor with good curling advice? Leave a comment and share your resource with other GFCC members!