Getting Ready for Nationals
This is the first year my team and I are attempting to make a run for the national championship. We’ve had success at similar events in the past, (club nationals) which, without getting into details, is not quite on par with the level of competition we will face this time around.
Knowing that fact, we feel it’s important to set realistic goals upon entering the East Regional National Playdown in Rochester, NY this Thursday. Is it possible that we can be the number one team in the nation? It’s unlikely, given our current level of experience. Can we compete with any of our opponents on any given day? Absolutely.
The main reason behind that belief is preparation. By preparing ourselves properly, there’s a better chance for us to have consecutive successful games. Consistency will be the determining factor for our triumph or failure on the national stage. I know that’s an obvious assessment, as consistency is important for teams of every experience level. But it’s even more crucial for a team like ours. We know we’re entering this tournament as an underdog. Or, as various online forums have us listed, ‘a wildcard.’
How does a team prepare for nationals? What are some specific things we do to help tilt the odds in our favor? It all starts in the off-season. In August, our team got together to discuss goals, motivations and expectations. This is an important part of a competitive team’s dynamic. Ideally, you’d like to have everyone on the same page before the season begins. So it was then and there that we decided to enter ourselves into this national event.
The rest of our constant preparation is divided into personal and team goals. Personally, I’m striving to be in the best physical shape I can be before national playdowns. Multiple 10-end games can be grueling, especially if it involves a lot of sweeping. My teammates also have physical fitness goals, as well as curling-related performance goals. Even though curling is a team sport, we feel it’s important to set these individual milestones. Making personal improvements can only benefit the team.
Our team-based preparation is all about repetition and practice. We try to practice everything: on-ice and off-ice communication, capturing accurate split times, judging the weight of take-outs and draws, hitting the broom, etc. Those are some of the usual aspects associated with curling, but even the little things become paramount at nationals. Keeping the lane clean for our shooter, watching/timing the opposition, staying positive and focused seem to matter more at this high level.
If you’d like to learn more about our team, check out the Facebook link below. You can also follow along with the action from our East Regional National Playdown in Rochester on curlingzone.com
Playdowns are from Thursday, January 6th to Sunday, January 9th.
Richard lives in Schenectady and is a member of the Schenectady Curling Club.