In the introduction to her book Smart Curling , four-time Canadian Ladies’ Curling Champion Vera Pezer writes:
Mental training is important in all sports, but it is crucial in the game of curling, which is often described as chess on ice. When teams of equal technical ability compete, assuming breaks and bad luck are not factors in the outcome, the team with greater mental toughness and better psychological tools will win. Having this personal control is an enormous confidence builder because the greater mastery you have over yourself, the greater the control you have over a competitive situation. In fact, mental toughness – “the ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of the competitive circumstances” – improves a team’s chances of success, despite adversity.
Coaches at the Golden Hawks Curling High Performance Centre have decades of experience in coaching a variety of sports and can help train your rink in such skills as:
- the use of mental imagery;
- stress management practices, such as relaxation and breathing techniques;
- management of on-ice and off-ice distractions;
- improving concentration and focus;
- self-talk to improve your confidence;
- the value and procedures of practicing.
Stress management, anxiety control, and improving focus
All athletes have to deal with stressful situations that can negatively impact their ability to perform in a given situation, by making it difficult to focus on those things that are required for optimal execution. This issue is always more pronounced in the most important competitive situations. Like all skills, the techniques that assist with the mental side of sport must also be rehearsed and practiced until they become habit. These skills, along with others, are incorporated into the HPC’s Mental Skills package.
Mental imagery and visualization are mental skills that are widely used by all elite athletes. These two skills have a proven record of increasing ones’ performance level. The Golden Hawks Curling High Performance Centre utilizes two approaches to mental training, the 10-Minute Mental Toughness Workout developed by Dr. Jason Selke, and the Seven Steps to Peak Performance developed by Dr. M. Suinn. Both of these mental skills programs are available in the HPC Mental Skills package.
Off-ice fitness programs
The Golden Hawks Curling High Performance Centre can consult with teams looking for off-ice fitness programs that can be conducted either in the off-season or during the curling season, depending on the rink’s needs. Programs can be designed to meet a rink’s individual requirements, taking into account such things as access to equipment and facility location. Programs can be tailored to your rink’s general level of fitness so that you can physically recover between games, especially during multi-game events. Maximum strength can be developed if someone is looking for increased hit weight or improved sweeping. Moreover, training for Lactate Power can be incorporated to reduce the impact of Lactic Acid buildup by increasing the blood-buffering capability through specific exercises. Don’t let lack of fitness prevent you from reaching your goals!
Dynamic stretching and warm-ups
Walk on to the sheet of ice, ready to go on shot number 1. Go through on-ice and off-ice warm up scenarios that prepare you for that very first shot. Break points, rock matching and ice speed are all critical components of on-ice warm up. Off-ice warm-ups including the role of dynamic vs. static stretching are also key factors in being fully prepared as soon as the game starts.
For further information about mental preparation as it relates to curling, see the Resources pages for articles by Bill Tschirhart, Maurice Wilson, and others.
 Vera Pezer (2008). Smart Curling: how to perfect your game through mental training. Fifth House Limited, Calgary, Alberta. ISBN 978-1-897252-03-1.