Part 3: Delivery
It seems like such a simple role. Deliver the stone. Besides the technical difficulties of delivery, how hard can it be? Well you’re right. The primary goal of the delivery is to throw the stone. But the role of delivery starts way before the release.
Are you sensing a pattern? Of course you are! Communication is not a single direction. It must be a full-duplex system. (shout-out for all you nerds out there like me)
When you are in the hack, your primary role is to know what you are being asked to throw. If it is unclear to you if the skip wants a guard or a draw, or what weight they are expecting (hack, takeout, draw, etc), then your role is to ask. You can ask the sweepers, because they should know as well. If they are uncertain, then you can go ask the skip. If verbal communication is difficult and you do not have hand signals established, then sometimes it requires going down the ice to be able to hear them. Not ideal for time, but you don’t want to end up guarding something they wanted to be able to hit or taking out your guard or shot-rock.
Something worth developing is a habit of stating the intended shot to your sweepers. “Just a draw”, “hit and roll”, “bump with hack weight”. If you make this second nature, it accomplishes 2 things:
- Makes sure you and your sweepers understand the shot being thrown or called for. If there is a misunderstanding, you want this cleared up prior to delivery.
- Think of it as a mantra. Stating something out-loud makes you believe it more. If you believe in the shot, you are more likely to make the shot. Visualizing how the shot will end up will help you find the correct weight and throw that weight. I know it might seem corny, but I have 16 years of this to prove it works. And yes, even some olympians do this as well, because it clears out any other shots that you might be thinking about and allows you to focus on the shot being called.
Trust your skip:
This is so key. Once you understand what the skip is asking for, trust it. If you feel it is not the “correct” call (aka call you would make), or if you feel there is too much or not enough ice, I will guarantee you will not throw the shot correctly. If you feel there is too much ice, you end up compensating for it mentally and throwing to where you think the broom should be. Before you make your delivery, you must believe in the shot being called. If you are adamant that the call is not makeable by you, communicate to the skip. There may be another option that you are able to believe it. But if there is not, you must trust that the skip would not give you a shot that is un-makeable by you. Remember, their role is to know their team and call shots that their teammates can make.
Trust your sweepers:
Unless you are the skip, you are a sweeper when you are not delivering a stone. So after you have released the stone, it is common to try to judge your own weight. If you want to communicate how you felt about the weight after you’ve released it, do so with your sweepers immediately and that’s it. “Felt light” is all that is needed. Beyond that you must trust that the sweepers will do their role to the best of their abilities. If you follow the stone and call out to them on if they should sweep or not, it is not helpful. It just makes it harder for them to focus on the weight and hear the skip. Please avoid this pit-fall of most curlers. The better the curler you become (or are), the more likely you will feel the urge to do this. Don’t. Trust your sweepers.
There are many steps that you do prior to delivering the stone. This may include: moving your opponents stone closer to the hack, cleaning your stone, putting on a slider or removing a gripper, taking off a glove, etc. This pre-delivery routine is the #1 reason ends take longer than they need to. Your role as the person who is delivering the stone next is to be ready.
Do not forget your etiquette. Do not move anything or yourself until the opponent has released their stone. You should be standing outside of the hog line or behind the hack during their delivery. Once they have released their stone, the hack (and area directly in front of the hack) is usually vacant. If your opponent is in your way, then you MUST wait. The sheet fully belongs the opponent until their stone has stopped moving, so do not get in their way or their line of sight. However, if they are clear of the hack, you can begin to get set up. Once the opponent’s stone comes to rest, they will clear out of your line of sight.
Your goal is to never have the skip waiting for you. 99.9% of the time the hack is vacant upon release. You should be able to get ready during the time it takes the stone to come to rest. Get ready first, then see how the opponent’s shot ends up. Do not watch the shot and then get ready. Doing this will allow you to be able to deliver the stone as soon as the skip puts their broom on the ice. Take a moment to focus on the shot being called, and deliver your stone.