The Paint Can & the Screw Driver

In our consumer society, we seem to have a tool for most everything! Tools are very specialized. I’m a wood turner, just an amateur, but I love working on my lathe. I can’t believe the array of turning tools I’ve accumulated over the years! In the early years of my wood turning addiction, I used one “scraper” to produce most of the projects I turned out (sorry ’bout that) with varying degrees of success until I found out that it’s much easier and more successful if you use the right turning tool (and it helps to know how to use it, who knew?).

The same is true for the “tools” we use as curlers, notably the curling stone. There is some basic knowledge of the only piece of equipment that really “counts” that’s required by all curlers. What you don’t know about curling stones can harm your performance.

Elite teams have made this an art form. They obsess about the eight stones they’ve been asked to use in a game. The ice upon which they play is so good, and so different from most curling club ice that to not pay attention to stone characteristics is “performance suicide”. The “rock book” that each elite team compiles is a treasured commodity. In the competitive environment in which they find themselves, the sets of stones they will play is rather limited. It makes perfect sense to catalogue the stones and their characteristics of speed and curl. They don’t need me to explain the process but to those out there reading this who are “serious” or “competitive” curlers/teams, hopefully this post will help you better understand the one aspect of delivering the curling stone that most of your competitors will ignore, and do so at their own peril.

Delivering a curling stone is about “weight” and “line”. Hit the brush and deliver the right weight. Simple! Well, almost simple! There’s a third aspect of delivering a curling stone and it’s the amount of rotation. The article in my coaching manual regarding this most important issue is entitled “The Technical Double Cross”. So many club teams double cross themselves without knowing it because they don’t count rotations.

When a curling stone is delivered with “positive rotation”, when it ends its journey, two things happen at exactly the same time, the stone stops moving forward and stops rotating. The key phrase in the preceding sentence is in quotations. Deliver a curing stone without positive rotation and all bets are off. The stone is in the unpredictable category with an array of possible results, some good but mostly bad.

Curling stone manufacturers mill the running surface of the stone to 4-5 mm. They assume that you will rotate the stone 3 rotations from release to stop. If you don’t do that, you’re asking their product to do something for which it was not designed! Does that mean that if you don’t rotate the stone 3 rotations or significantly more than 3 rotations, you will not make the called shot? Of course not! You may make the shot but you need to understand that you did so with good fortune, not good planning playing a prominent role. Don’t ignore nor forget that! But you won’t make a very satisfying  career out of playing that way and you won’t be of much value as a teammate either.

You can open a can of paint with a screw driver but that’s not its intended purpose. When you make curling shots outside of the 3 rotations, you’re opening that paint can with a screw driver!

If  you learned to curl from a certified instructor, you were likely taught to rotate the stone from 10 or 2 o’clock to 12 o’clock while sliding the distance of the length of a curling brush. If you do that, you will apply the 3 rotations those curling stone manufacturers expect. If at the halfway point of the stone’s journey the handle has made one complete rotation, you will achieve the results you seek. The stone will “finish” and you’ll make more shots and know why you are doing so.

Bottom line, be aware of the number of rotations you and your teammates apply. It’s easy. Watch the handle!