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Sharpen Your Skills with Drills and Practice Ice

Nugget Column #08 – Tuesday November 10th, 2015

They say it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field… Well curling is no exception, and although “mastering” the sport may not be your goal, continually improving and performing has a great deal of impact how much you will enjoy the sport throughout years of participation.

As a member of any capacity at the North Bay Granite Club you are entitled to practice ice when it is available. Most of our leagues do not utilize six sheets of ice for any of their draws leaving “open ice” at almost any time that there is curling scheduled.

Find our Open Ice Schedule at

Practice ice cannot be reserved, therefore curlers must obey by a “first come, first serve” system with the expectation that if space becomes limited, curlers will endeavor to share their sheet with others.

But before you rush out to throw a pile of rocks, remember what Vince Lombardi once said: “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

With that in mind, here are two drills you can use to create some meaningful practice even if you are on your own.

Progressive Hog Line: Delivering one stone at a time, wherever the stone comes to rest (in play of course), it is pulled directly to the side line where it becomes the new hog line. The next stone thrown must get over that hog line, then pulled aside becoming the new hog line. The objective of the drill is to get all eight stones over the moving hog line and in play. If eight is not yet achievable, keep a record of your personal best score (number of consecutive rocks drawn over the hog line and in play) and attempt to improve that score throughout the season.

This drill is great for fine tuning your weight control; and can be an equally valuable sweeping exercise should you have a practice partner.

Crazy Eights: Utilizing eight rocks of all the same colour, set-up four target stones in the twelve foot ring (two splitting the teen line, and two splitting the centre line), and the other four target stones in the eight foot ring, each one midway between two rocks in the twelve foot. You should be left with two squares at a 45 degree angle to each other.

The eights stones of the opposite colour are to be the “shooters” at the other end of the sheet. The object of the drill it to remove all the target stones while retaining all the shooters. After all eight stones are delivered, score one point for every shooter in the house but deduct one point for every target stone remaining in the house. A perfect score is eight, but defeating your personal best over time is just as important so keep a record.

This drill is excellent for practicing different take-out weights while developing an eye for angles and a knack for leaving your shooter in an intended position (like billiards).

Bobby Ray General Manager North Bay Granite Club

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