Balance is the key in your delivery
By Richard Brower, VCC Member Services Coordinator
I’ve taught curling to countless groups and individuals over the years since I first started working in curling at the old Vancouver Curling Club in 1993. It’s been my observation from both teaching the fundamentals and working on my own game in preparation for competition that balance is the key ingredient separating most club curlers from those playing at a competitive level.
Many times I have had club curlers ask me for help with their delivery and I usually end up giving more or less the same lesson on improving their balance. Without solid balance it’s often hard to get the other things right in your delivery as well.
Here’s a good test to see if you’ve got it right, one I’ve done on many occasions with curlers looking for help. I tell them to get the rock and broom (or crutch) out of their hands, set up in the hack like they normally would and make a gentle slide out. Many feel reluctant to go there and all will get instant feedback on how well their delivery holds up. With nothing in your hands to lean on, any wobbling or falling quickly tells the story on your balance. A top notch curler, like the ones you see on TV, would rarely be anything but rock solid when doing this.
Most club curlers don’t have strong balance because they don’t have their legs and feet in the right positions and/or they don’t have the leg strength to execute a balanced slide properly.
Think of a line underneath the centre of your body as you slide down the ice towards the broom. Ideally, the inside edge of your sliding foot should be just touching that line. The sliding foot may be slightly turned out as well, depending on your flexibility, and your heel will be slightly back of your belly button.
The knee of your sliding leg should be approximately under your armpit with the shin making an angle, not straight up and down. This position is unnatural for most beginning curlers, but you won’t see anyone curling on TV who doesn’t do it. Try to feel that the hip joint of your sliding leg has opened up and that you can lean forward without your rib cage running into your thigh bone.
Getting my left hip opened up and leg to the side consistently has been something I’ve had to deal with in my years competing. I’ve taken to pointing my left leg out to the left and opening up my left hip as I sit in the hack, so that I don’t have to make that move as I push out from the hack. It’s already there.
Your trailing leg has to be in the correct position too to have good balance. Your knee should be on the ice touching that imaginary line under the centre of your body, just like the inside heel of your sliding foot. If you’ve got a gap between the two, as seen from head on, then you’re not there.
Arguably, not every good curler lets the knee of their trailing leg touch the ice, but for most club curlers I think it’s a good idea. It’s easier to balance with your knee and shin on the ice too, rather than just your trailing foot. Your knee touches the ice by dropping your hips down slowly as you start your slide.
And get your shoe laces of the trailing foot on the ice too with the foot pointing in. Pointing the trailing foot out with your instep on the ice tends to pull your hips and body out of a square position.
My final recommendation is try using a delivery crutch rather than a broom when you are delivering. It’s so much easier to right yourself if you don’t settle into a solid position when you start your slide. My brother nagged me forever before I finally tried one and I know that it has made me a better, more confident thrower.
If you want help with your curling delivery, we have a large staff of coaces at Vancouver Curling Club that can be booked for individual or small group lessons. We also offer clinics and learn-to-curl programs.