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Strategy More Than Deciding What Shot to Play

Nugget Column #15 – Tuesday January 5th, 2015

Although deciding what shot to play is an important element of strategy, it is not all there is to it. More broadly defined, strategy is “the decision making process a team goes through before, during and after a game.” This includes setting goals, making game plans, deciding game style, shot selection, and game evaluation.

Certain teams might adopt an overall style that is “offense first”, which generally means that their games have more rocks in play and involves more finesse as players attempt to execute guards, raises, come arounds, and freezes. This style of play is also considered to be risky or complicated because of the number of rocks that are usually in play.

An offensive approach to a specific end is called a “pursuing strategy” and is designed to maximize your own scoring opportunities. It also tends to maximize our opponent’s scoring opportunities and is usually played when teams are down in points, have hammer, or feel that offensive shots are their strength.

On the other hand, a team that adopts an overall “defense first” style generally prefers to throw more takeouts and keep relatively few rocks in play. A defensive approach to a specific end is called a “protecting strategy” and is designed to minimize your opponent’s scoring opportunities. It is also tends to minimize your own scoring opportunities and is often played in early ends, without the hammer, or when leading the game.

Most teams combine offensive strategy with defensive strategy for a “blended attack”. A blended approach to a specific end is called a “probing strategy” and it allows you to keep your options open as the end unfolds. Eventually you will reach a fork in the road where a clear decision between protecting and pursuing must be made depending on the potential that exists.

Answering the following three questions will help determine your strategy prior to your team’s first shot of an end:

  1. What do you want to achieve this end?

  2. What is unacceptable in this end?

  3. What is acceptable in this end?

Plan as you may, but remember that strategy must constantly be revaluated as the game progresses and you must take into consideration the seven major factors that influence shot selection. The ability to think on your feet and make decisions based on “FESRAIN” is very demanding; and very important.

F – Free Guard Zone Rule (Is it still in play? How will you use it to direct play to the centre or sides of the sheet?) E – End (How much time remains in the game?) S – Score (How far ahead or behind are you?) R– Rock Advantage (Who has the hammer now and in even ends?) A – Ability (What is the relative ability of the thrower?) I – Ice Conditions (Is the swing or speed a factor?) N – Number of Rocks Remaining (In the end and in the game)

Bobby Ray General Manager North Bay Granite Club

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