A pardon for all sinner sweepers out there

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

changes to sweeping rules made everything legal. Now there is only one rule – no dumping. A play- er cannot liſt the broom head off the ice directly in front of a moving stone and deposit debris. Ev- erything else is legal. But legal sweeping and effective techniques are


oſten totally different things. Even in league play sweeping really can make a difference so effective techniques are worth your time as a player and as a team. Here are some key factors to keep in mind. Head over head – Sweeping cleans the ice, but,

more importantly, it warms the ice, thereby af- fecting the amount of curl and helping the rock travel farther. Tis warming results partially from the sweeping motion and largely from downward pressure that is applied by the sweeper. Some of this pressure is muscle-related but much of it in- volves the location of the sweeper’s body mass. A player will get maximum benefit if his/her head is directly over the head of the broom. Tis position will put the sweeper’s body in the location that will produce the best results. 45 degrees and player positions – Te broom

head should move across the stone’s path at about a 45-degree angle and as close to the stone as pos- sible. Ideally a team’s sweepers will be positioned with one on each side of the stone. Te strongest sweeper should sweep closest to the stone be- cause the greatest impact of sweeping is gener- ated by the person in that position. Two grippers – Sweepers should have two grip-

per feet vs. having a slider on one foot. Safety is certainly a factor but Canadian studies also show that a sweeper with two grippers is considerably more effective and produces greater results. Eyes forward – Sweepers should move down

the ice in a way that allows them to glance up to see where they are and how far they have to go. Tis will help them judge whether or not the stone is light or heavy. It will also help them avoid

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or all you illegal sweepers out there – you have been pardoned. Aside from equipment-related provisions, recent

tripping over upcoming stationary stones and to see a skip’s signals. Mind over mechanical – Interval timing is a

wonderful tool to help intermediate curlers judge a stone’s expected travel distance. Unfortunately, many timers take the stopwatch’s time as gospel and then watch a stone stop a few feet short of its desired location. A stopwatch’s time is just an initial indicator of rock speed and there are numerous reasons why it could be faulty. As a sweeper, take your brain out of neutral and learn to be a good judge of weight. Tere is no substi- tute. Communicate – Te first person to know if a

rock needs sweeping is the shooter. As a shooter, talk to your sweepers once you have released the stone. Let them know what you think. Aſter that, the best people to judge a stone’s weight are the sweepers. Take a look. What do you think? Tell the skip. And then do it again and maybe even a third time. Some teams use a number system to communicate the expected stop position (1-3 are long to short guards, 4-7 are top 12-foot to tee line weight, and 8-10 are back 4-foot to back line weights). Other teams just call out things like short guard, top 4-foot, etc. Do whatever works for you, but make sure that you make a habit of doing it. Listen to the skip – Sometimes there are con- flicting calls for sweeping from the vice skip who

is holding the broom and the skip who is now shooting. My advice – listen to the skip. Te skip sees 75 percent of his/her team’s stones travel down the ice and all of the other team’s shots. Te vice skip only sees about 25 percent of each. Also, listen to the skip on draws that are com- ing into the guard and house areas. You may have one opinion about the need for sweeping and the skip may have another. Let the skip know what you think but, at the end of the day, listen to the skip. Equipment changes – Te primary focus of

last summer’s changes to sweeping rules had to do with equipment. While important, those changes probably have little impact on most club/ league curling. I trust that the Spirit of Curling and its focus on fair play will encourage players to abide by the rules and to not knowingly take advantage of unsuspecting competitors. Etiquette tip for the day: Congratulate the

other team on especially good shots. Until next time – 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.)

2018 Olympic Team Trials tickets on sale All-session tickets for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Tri-

als For Curling went on sale Feb. 10, 2017. Te competition serves as the sole qualifier for curlers on the U.S. Olympic Team for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Te Olympic Curling Trials will be held Nov. 11-18, 2017, at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Neb. Tickets can be purchased through any Ticketmaster outlet nationwide or online at Tickets also can be purchased at Bax- ter Arena or by calling 800-745-3000. VISA, a long-standing supporter of the Olympics, is the exclusive method of online purchases.

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