Part 5: Second
A Second’s shots are often heavly dictated by what their Lead has thrown. Sometimes the opponents Lead stones are what dictates what a Second will be required to throw. In a typical game there are only 4 types of shots that a Second will be required to throw.
This is the most common shot a second will throw. With the lead stones out front as guards, the second’s role is to make use of these guards by drawing behind them. This is the point where the offensive game is most apparent. A properly thrown draw will stop directly behind the guard and in front of the T-Line. If the draw is not burried behind the guard, the oppoent will be able to hit and roll behind cover and remove your stone from play. If the shot is behind the T-Line, the opponent can follow your shot and draw to it. This will provide them with shot stone and backing if you try to remove their stone.
Often people feel that the correct draw weight is to the T-Line. When a shot is thrown to the T-Line without sweepers, it is very difficult for your team to control the shot. If the stone is close to the guard, the sweepers may be called upon to sweep to get it by the guard; the extra distance the stone will now travel will put it behind the T-Line. Olympic curlers know exactly the correct weight to throw to allow their sweepers to hold the line and still allow it to finish behind the guard without sweeping. This is a learned skill that takes years of practice and consistency in both ice and team-members . How effective your sweepers are will affect where the stone should be thrown to.
In arena curling, finding the ideal weight for a draw is difficult. The thing to remember is that you have sweepers to help “finish” the stone. If a stone is thrown to the top of the house, the sweepers can sweep it the extra 6 feet to the T-Line. If it is not going to curl behind the guard it is better to leave it in front of the T-Line than behind it. So when throwning a draw, it is important to trust your sweepers and allow them to help finish the stone, and not plan to throw it to the T-Line without the use of sweepers.
Depending on the circumstances, the second may be requried to throw a guard. This may occur due to the lead’s stone being thrown or bumped into the house, or the lead stones are not in play so there are no guards to draw behind, or it maybe because the skip is trying to place enough guards out front to be able to successfully build a house to try to get 4 or more points in the final end.
The role of throwning a guard as a second is the same as the role of throwning a guard as a lead. A high guard (closer to the hog line) is not as useful as a guard that is closer to the stone you are guarding (or house if no rocks are in the house). You still want 3 feet of space between the guard and the stone you are guarding, else you may give the opponent an opportunity to throw a double-takeout to remove both your guard and the stone behind it. The further you are away from the guarded stone, the harder the takeout. If you are too far away, the opponent may be able to draw around the guard and bump the stone out into the open or out of play all together.
A bump is when a stone is moved closer to the hack. A bump is really defined more by the weight that the thrown stone is delivered rather than by the result of the “bumped” stone. A bump can be used to raise a guard stone into the house rather than curling around it due to ice conditions or other guards that are preventing you from coming around the guard. This is often referred to as a “raise”. To throw this shot you will need to deliver the stone as if the guard was not there. Your aim is to throw the weight you will need to get to the position without bumping any stone. Your sweepers can make the adjustments to get the bumped stone to move the correct distance, if the line will allow.
Bumping can also be used to move a stone in the house to the back of the house. This is a great technique if you can bump an opponents stone back behind the T-line to allow your stone to be closest to the button but retain the opponents stone as backing which will make it more difficult for your opponent to remove you from play or bump your stone out of shot position. In this case the difficulty is moving the opponents stone enough to give you shot position, but not too far that your opponent can bump you back onto their stone and regain shot position. The key to this shot is to throw just slightly harder than draw weight. This is where Curling lives up to the “game of inches”.
Last but not least is bumping a stone out of play. Good teams will call this “takeout”. Your goal is to throw your stone back house or hack weight. This means that the stone will be able to reach the back of the house or the hack without sweepers. This allows time for the stone to curl and still have enough weight to bump the target stone just out of the rings or the back of the house. The reason this weight is used as “takeout” by good teams, is that the delivered stone will often be left in play even when hitting the target stone at an angle.
As mentioned above, good teams often use “bump” as takeout. Good teams also have a much faster takeout speed. This type of speed is used when you either:
- do not want to keep the delivered stone in play
- removing more than 1 target stone
- want to reduce the time the stone has to curl, effectively reducing the amount the stone will curl.
This high speed takeout is the most often used form of takeout by teams on unfamiliar ice. Once a team has become confident with the weight needed to remove a single stone, they should drop their takeout weight down to only the amount required to remove the target stone from play. Again, more of a bump weight that takeout weight if they want their delivered stone to attempt to remain in play. The Second position is often more offensive than defensive. The weight of a takeout will change the shot from an offensive one (to better your position) to defensive (to only worsen your opponents position). Great teams will tend towards always bettering their position with Second’s shots.
As always, communication is very important. Be sure to communicate with your Skip to find out if the ice they are providing for a takeout is for takeout style weight or for bump style weight, since a stone will curl more with the lighter bump weight.
Remember that the Skips goal after your 2 shots is to have guards up front and hopefully stones in the house in shot position. Whether your are throwing a guard, a draw, a bump, or a takeout, the goal is often to keep your stones in play. There are still half the end’s stones yet to be thrown, so without stones in play the options available for the Skip with the Third’s or Skip’s stones become more limited.