Friday, December 18, 2009

The rationale behind Team GB's changed delivery zone

Tem GB 2nd Tom Killin
(Photo Bob Cowan)

The Institute Of Sport, SportScotland's high performances arm, has published a paper describing why Team Great Britain throw from 10 or 15 feet further from the near hogline than any other team.

The short answer is that Coach Tom Pendreigh in consultation with Senior Sports Psychologist John Marchant, and Head of Sports Science and Innovation, Malcolm Fairweather, think they found a competitive edge.

Moving closer to the hack at delivery allows the stone to cross the hogline further from the centre line, widening the range available of shots.

The coaches expected an initial "dip" in performance, evident in Scotland requiring a tie-break victory at the 2009 Worlds to avoid having to re qualify. But with the goal Vancouver 2010, and resources devoted to physical conditioning and psychological profiling, the coaches "see their hard work paying off, with a team who are more unified, happier and more performance focused than ever before."

Read the report HERE.

Some quick observations.

Recent rule changes moving rocks from centre line at delivery negate much of the presumed advantage.

Vancouver 2010 ice, based on the 2009 Worlds, will have plenty of swing, perhaps making it unnecessary to add more width by moving back.

The further away you throw, he more opportunity for things to go wrong.

Players moving forward to throw takeout weight add another variable for the person holding the broom.

And finally, other international high performance coaches have had two years to consider this experiment and have declined to follow suit. Team GB will have to keep believing that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

My personal take: this may have seemed a good idea under the old rules, and started a multi-disciplinary process that gathered a momentum impossible to stop, or perhaps stopping would have been even more disruptive than playing it out.

The wheelchair curlers were Britain's only Paralympic medallists in Torino. Their semi-professional squad faces enormous pressure to win. They've gambled on a radical change they hope will come good in March. If it does, they'll be copied. If it doesn't look for Coach Pendreigh to take the blame.

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