GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT // ZAMBONI TRAX More on reinventing the LTC

By Brad Whitlock, U.S. Curling News columnist,

in the “experience,” making sure they don’t get cold, shortening up the overall time the LTC takes, and generally making it more fun and easy. Seems I hit a nerve along the way. A few of you love the traditional LTC format


and think it’s just fine the way it is (thank you very much)! But the overwhelming response was that you

agreed there are improvements to be had. Let me suggest a revised format that may streamline your LTC. I call it the ABCs of Curling. Part A – Arena! (30-45 min. max) Keep the introductory talk to a minimum. Do

just enough to get them safely to the ice and in to the arena. What’s the hardest thing for a beginner to

learn? No doubt the throwing motion. Neverthe- less, focus on getting them throwing right away. Jim Ellis of Kettle Moraine Curling Club says, “Do your best to get a rock in their hand imme- diately!” I recently saw a simple, but very effective and

quick, way to teach the throwing motion when I was with Shawn Olesen (Assistant Head USCA Ice Technician) at the Continental Cup. Maybe others use this method but Shawn’s the first one I’ve seen use it. It was downtime and a woman wanted to see what it was like to throw the stone. Shawn had her throwing a rock in no time. He put a stabilizer in one hand, a rock in the other, and a piece of cardboard under her sliding foot. “Push off!” he urged and out she went. Aſter a few more times, he urged her to “let go of the rock aſter you push off.” She had the approximate mo- tion down right away. Not everyone will have that same success, but

the point is to simplify the process. Why put a slider under someone’s shoe right away? Use something that will give the idea but will be eas- ier to manage and master. Start off where you’re going to end (the stabilizer and stone.) Tere’s re- ally no need for all the intermediate steps at this point.

ast issue I suggested we blow up the traditional Learn to Curl (LTC) format by getting participants more involved

“Getting the idea of throwing down the sheet

toward the house is enough the first time out,” says Johnathan Penny of the Cincinnati Curl- ing Club. “Watching new curlers be spaced 6 feet across from each other, crouched down on the ice, trying to master in-turns and out-turns, just doesn’t look like much fun,” he adds. Such intricacies can wait. Let your new curl-

ers work up to them. I know, I know. Tradition- alists will say that in-turns and out-turns aren’t intricacies, they’re fundamentals. Sorry, it’s not important when learning to curl (especially on arena ice where you may be asked to throw a “re- verse” handle to counter negative ice conditions). Finally, let them sweep for a couple of minutes

so they know what it’s about and to warm them up a bit. Also, have some of those cheap (one-time use)

hand warmers ready to pass out if, and when, needed! Part B – Broomstack! (15 min. max) Now it’s time for a mini broomstack. Head

off the ice to discuss what’s happened and let ev- eryone rest, warm up, and have a drink for a few minutes. I know, as arena clubs, you may not have a

great place for broomstacking. If you have no bar, then improvise. Get them to the lobby and have a carafe of hot chocolate available and some beer. Make it work as best you can. Te point is to get off the ice, get them talk-

ing, warm them up, and see how they are feel- ing about things. See how they are enjoying the experience and how much more they want to do. While everyone is warming up and cherishing

their brave moves just completed on the ice, show fun videos for a few minutes, e.g., the video of the Norwegian Men’s Team doing their pants dance at the Continental Cup (be sure to explain that this isn’t expected of beginning curlers)! Show a couple of great shots from the Olympics. Maybe even put up some pictures of lively bonspiels (Halloween and Christmas bonspiels are par- ticularly fun because of the costumes). If any of your participants are “bucket list”

types, they may, at this point, be ready to take off now that they’ve thrown a stone and done a little sweeping. If they’re intrigued, maybe they’ll stick around to play and perhaps get more involved

than they originally planned. If not – fine. Tey did their bucket list item and they can be on their way. Part C – Compete! (30 min. or so) Let everyone play and compete in a short sim-

ulated game with these modifications: t Further their experience and get them

in the spirit by making sure everyone shakes hands and issues a “Good Curl- ing!” to each other. Be sure to hold the coin toss, also!

t Don’t make them shoot all the way down the ice. It’s discouraging and doesn’t help the new curler learn. If anything, all they will learn is some convoluted way to “heave” the stone to try to make it down to the real house. Consider cutting the sheet in half for the first end or two so they can have some success by throw- ing on a half-length sheet. Put an orange cone out there (to mark the house and button) for them to shoot at.

t Save time (and speed things up) by hav- ing each person shoot just one stone per end. Tey’ll soon enough (if they return) get in to the rhythm of a real game (hope- fully in the instructional league that you offer to them).

Tere’s nothing magic about this format ver-

sus some other format. Te important thing is to keep it moving, head off the “cold” problem and have fun, of course. If you’re stuck in the traditional LTC format

and perhaps not getting the results you’re hoping for (particularly regarding the number of attend- ees who return or that you retain), then maybe it’s time to think about changing things up a bit. In a future issue, I’ll focus on ways to spice up

your LTC and I’ll pass on some really creative ideas that were sent to me by a variety of clubs across the USA. Q

USA Curling (( 7

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