swer, I asked them what was the easiest shot in curling. Tey all responded that it was an open takeout. Ten I asked them why they missed so many. Later that night I started thinking more about takeouts and what it takes to make one. Variables

that came to mind included: t


t t

Reducing variables T

By Jon Mielke, U.S. Curling News Columnist,

he U-18 girls team that I coach had just come off the ice aſter a lackluster state game. Knowing that they knew the an-

Set-up in the hack – body and rock align- ment

Slider foot position during slide and slid- ing straight at the skip’s broom

Proper weight – normal, control, hack, etc. Proper grip and release

t Release point vs. teammates t Rotations vs. teammates t t

Proper amount of ice called by skip Sweeping

Wow, thinking about all the things that can go

wrong, maybe takeouts are not so easy aſter all. Actually, this list is pretty much the same for

all curling shots. It is just that proper weight is a little less precise for normal takeouts than for down-weight hits and draws. Te key to making any curling shot is proper techniques and putting a lot of things on autopilot (reducing variables). I had a pleasant and valuable exchange with

Chris Rimple of Seattle’s Granite Curling Club following one of my recent Curling News articles. Chris is a former member of the USA skydiv- ing team. He talked about getting so proficient at certain aspects of his curling delivery that he could put them out of his mind and focus on a small number of variables - things like being la- ser straight at the broom and throwing the right weight. Tere are two critical requirements to this

“reducing variables” approach. One is proper techniques and the other is repeating each com- ponent of your delivery correctly and exactly the same way over and over and over again. Te goal is to make things like setting up in the hack, body and rock alignment, broom and slider foot posi- tions, sliding at the broom, grip and release, and the release point routine and almost automatic.

4 ))

Doing so lets you focus on things that vary from shot to shot, the biggest of which is weight. Wide open takeouts should be some of the

easiest shots in curling but they are oſten missed or result in half-shots where the end result is an unwanted nose hit, roll-out, etc. In some cases these misses are the result of throwing the wrong weight, sweeping errors, etc., but they may also be caused by fundamental deficiencies that will plague all the shooter’s shots. Te only solution is going back to the drawing board to develop proper techniques and then to repeat them so oſten that they become almost automatic. Once you have done that you will be able to focus on variables that are critical to making your next curling shot. It is important to remember that throwing 100

practice shots the wrong way only embeds bad technique. It is important to find a good tutor to analyze your delivery to get you doing things the right way. Taking video of your delivery from several different angles is also a great way to com- pare your way and the right way. You may dis- cover that you are doing things that you were not aware of. It is also important to not work on too many things at the same time. If you have four or five things that need tweaking, focus on one or two until the corrected technique becomes au- tomatic, thereby allowing you to focus on some- thing else during your delivery.

Re d u c i ng

variables is not quick and easy, but it is exactly what accomplished curlers do. It takes time and dedication, but it frees up your brain to focus on non-routine variables. Being able to do it will turn many of your missed and half shots into winners. Etiquette tip of the day: Be ready when it is

your turn to shoot – be ready to step into in the hack when your skip calls the shot. It is a fact that if everyone on both teams wastes just 10 seconds per shot, the game will take an extra 21 minutes. Just for fun: Play in a summer ’spiel this sum-

mer. Tere are several to choose from and driv- ing home in driſting snow will not be an issue. Bismarck’s 30th

annual summer ’spiel is July 13-

16 ( Five sheets of great humidity-controlled arena ice, golf, BBQ picnic, and curlers from far and wide – what’s not to like. Until next time – have a good summer and

Good Curling! (Mielke is a Level III instructor and a Level III

coach. He is a member of Bismarck’s Capital Curl- ing Club and a 2012 inductee into USA Curling’s Hall of Fame. His previous articles are available on line at: USA Curling – Media – Curling News – Columnists – Jon Mielke).


JUNE 10 USCA Level II Instructor Course, Coyotes Curling Club, Tempe, Ariz.

JUNE 22-25 Junior Curling Camp, Coyotes Curling Club, Tempe, Ariz.

JULY 27 USCA Board of Directors meeting via teleconference

JULY 27-30 USCA Junior Curling Camp, Four Seasons Curling Club, Blaine, Minn.

AUG. 18-20 High Performance Program Open Camp, Four Seasons Curling Club, Blaine, Minn.

SEPT. 14-17 World Curling Federation Congress, Bled, Slovenia

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