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GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT // TRAINING TIPS FROM JON Some things are worth repeating By Jon Mielke, Curling News columnist

and junior and adult curlers hear it again when they attend curling camps. It was the focus of my very first Curling News article back five or six years ago. Alignment - regardless of whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or a competitive curler, you will not make many shots unless you have good body and stone alignment. So, what are we talking about when we talk


about alignment? First, remember that the most important line on a sheet of curling ice is invisi- ble. It is the line that runs from the shooter’s hack foot to the skip’s broom at the far end of the ice. Te line moves with every shot. Sometimes it is down the center of the sheet, and at other times it is way leſt or way right. It all depends on the shot that the skip is calling and where the target broom is placed. Two things that need to be aligned if the shoot-

er wants to consistently hit the skip’s broom – the shooter’s body and the stone. Te shooter’s body alignment starts when he or she steps into the hack. Players should not step into the hack and get in the crouch position until the skip calls the shot and positions the target broom. When that happens, the shooter should step into the hack with the toe of the hack foot pointed straight at the skip’s broom. Ten the rest of shooter’s body should also be aligned with the hips and shoul- ders at a 90-degree angle to the line of delivery. With the entire body in alignment, the

shooter should then lower his or her body into the crouched position in the hack. Te hack foot should still be pointed at the skip’s broom and the shoulders and hips should be square to the broom. Also, take a look at the position of the thigh of the hack foot leg – it should also be pointed at the skip’s broom. If it is not, the sub- sequent slide will be offline. Te other thigh and the slider foot should also be pointed to the skip’s

ome things are worth repeating. High performance players hear it again dur- ing their early-season practice sessions

broom and not at an angle off to the side. As the shooter’s torso and slider foot move back, they are on a line straight away from the skip’s broom and the subsequent forward movement should be straight to the broom. If the skip changes the call and moves the broom, stand up and start over. Even with proper body alignment, many play-

ers get in trouble because they do not get the stone lined up properly. During the set-up pro- cess the stone should be in front of the hack foot and centered directly on top of the invisible line that runs from the hack foot to the skip’s broom. Te shooting arm should be slightly relaxed at the elbow. Do not lean forward, just squat relaxed in the hack and keep the shoulders square to the broom and level – not tilted to the leſt or right. Te distance between the stone and the shooter’s hack foot will be dictated by the length of the shooter’s arm. Even with proper stone alignment during set-

up, things can get out of line during the actual delivery. Tis delivery process typically starts by moving the stone slightly forward to break its stationary inertia. From there the stone is pulled back toward the hack foot as the hips are elevated and taken back behind the hack. As you take the stone back toward the hack foot, do not touch the hack foot with the stone – you may bounce the stone off the foot and off the invisible line. It is vitally important to remember that the

stone’s initial forward movement and subsequent pull back toward the hack foot should not be done with the shooter’s arm. Te forward move- ment is achieved with a slight forward lean of the shoulders and the pull back is done as the whole body is being drawn back as a part of the delivery. If the stone is moved using the arm, it may end up being pushed or pulled off line. Pulling the stone back with the arm can also

result in the stone ending up under the shooter’s chest. If this occurs the shooter cannot look down his or her arm and over the top of the stone as he or she slides down the ice toward the skip’s broom. Te shooter will have no idea

if the stone is on the broom (on line). If they attempt to overcome this by pulling the stone forward to get it out front, the stone will probably end up off line and the shot will be missed. Keep the delivery arm slightly relaxed during the entire delivery with no pushing or pulling of the stone. Te stone’s inertia is generated by the body and not by ex- tending the shooting arm. Te stone should be out in front of the shooter’s head at all times and not under his or her chest. As the shooter pushes out of the hack, the slider foot should gradually move in behind the stone and then remain on the invisible line throughout the slide toward the skip’s broom. Te ABCs of a good delivery include align-

ment, balance and curl (grip, turn, and release). Remember that alignment includes both your body and the stone. Get yourself and the stone moving straight from the hack toward the skip’s broom. Being on line and hitting the skip’s broom will help you make more shots, win more games, and have more fun. As I start yet another year of writing training

suggestions for beginning and intermediate curl- ers, I want to thank my loyal readers, especially those who have contacted me with questions ( and those who have approached me to chat at various curling events around the country. It is nice to know that folks find my articles helpful. I hope you all have a good season and until

next time – good curling! Q (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 online at: USA Curling – Media – Curling News – Columnists – Jon Mielke).

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