A Curling Mindset

February 11, 2024 – One day into the Lunar New Year

Gong hei fat choy. The Year of the Dragon. I welcome the new year wholeheartedly.

I am not sure if I want to start my blog post with situations of stress or moments of inspiration. I actually have both such that one interplays with the other If anything, I feel the ship turning as we approach the Lunar New Year. Yes, I begin and end with curling. I recall last week that I’ve deliberated whether or not to talk about curling on this WordPress site or the one I use for work. As it turned out, I wrote it on my work WordPress site. The Science of Curling. The blog post was inspired my science project I did in Grade 9 and a curling game I had a couple of weeks ago. Writing about curling was inspired by a shot a made a few weeks ago to win a game. What I have learned last week that I would like to unpack in my blog is the MINDSET for curling. Again, I am learning about very complex ideas from my expertise and understanding of the game of curling. I did the same association to learn about “the goods internal.”

Where to start…

THE PERFECT CURLING SHOT. The new year begins with my skip injuring himself mid-game and me picking up the skip’s role after the 5th end. I took the 6th end to figure out the ice. The 7th end to figure out my game. And, the 8th end to assure the team of my new role as skip. The end got a little crowded with lots of rocks in play and we had one shot hidden behind a few guards sitting in the four foot. I can remember the house. There were many rocks in play and the ice was tricky. The opponents throw their last rock and it sits as shot in the 4-foot just above our rock which was second shot. They thought we won the game, but really, they tied the game. I had my last rock to throw. Again, the ice was unpredictable and we had to go around a few guards to tap back their rock and hit it in such a way that would have to curl around the guards enough to hit their rock on the inside. I called the shot. The second held the broom and the lead was ready to sweep my rock. No questions asked and we were all on board. We were playing the 8th end during the first draw. This timing meant that we had an audience. The two teams were waiting to play next and stood behind the house to watch our shot. I remember the CLARITY, the silence, and certainty. I threw the stone, I called sweeping, and we made the shot… perfectly. It was amazing. We ended up winning the game by 3-points. 8-5. It was an amazing moment. We celebrated and winning the game was a great way to start the year.

PICKING UP A SPARE. The next game we picked up a spare to play third. This player normally plays skip on other nights but can play any position. I was grateful that she was willing to play third. Deep down inside, I wanted to play skip. It was a humbling game. What I mean by that was, the spare had a lot of things to say about the game. It was a good thing. I called it “curling school.” My comments were not meant to make fun of what was being said, but we were learning a tonne about the game in terms of strategy, ice, and execution. I really appreciated this help and we won that game 12-3. Although our team needed this support and nudge to focus more on the game, I needed to learn how to listen to my voice too versus feeling tempted to second-guess my calls or ask for input for every shot to prevent myself from second-guessing. In the end, it does not become “my game” by doing that. The spare understood this.

BEING CONSISTENT. My skip remains injured and we continued playing with the spare as third. The spare took a step back from being the instructor of “curling school” but they remained focussed and competitive, which was healthy for me and the team. There was a healthy balance between calling our own game and asking for help when we needed it. One shot at a time. One after the other, we established an amazing FLOW as a team. It was not a matter of making or missing the shot, but more about playing the game. We were focused on every moment and making the most of every shot. We were still figuring out the quirks of our “new team” in terms of the amount of ice, how we throw, and communication. Our opponents were equally in the game and every shot for them mattered too. We played a full 8-ends and played every rock. I even threw my last rock even though we had already won our game. It felt amazing to end the game by making both of my shots, which were take outs to clear the house and maintain our lead. We won 8-4. We shook hands and one player on the other team said to me, “you were consistent.” That was a nice compliment.

YOU’RE NOT MAKING THIS GAME FUN. I held that compliment into my work week. I was reflecting on how this mindset could be translated into my everyday life. Be consistent. Focus on the game. One shot at a time. In the end, no one is trying to miss their shot or lose the game. There is definitely a synergy in every shot and being consistent matters. I tried to transfer my CURLING MINDSET to my life and way of being. By the time we got to this week’s game, I was exhausted, distracted, and discouraged. I could not let my work interfere with my curling game. My curling mindset was enacted. I had a cup of coffee before the game and had a “different song in my head” to ground my thinking. One rock at a time, we started the game. We stole one point in the first end, then stole two points in the second end, etc. We stole every point for 6-ends, the buzzer went, and the opponents shook hands after the 6th end. We won the game 8-0. There was no way for the opponents to win in the 7th end. It was an amazing game. I stayed focused. I stayed calm. I did not let things distract, annoy, or disappoint me. We just played the game. Every end, the skip’s last rock for the opponent were very difficult to make. They kept chasing us. We did not waiver.

I was so proud of myself and my team. I did not feel sorry for the other team. I had not malicious or ill intent. We were playing within the rules of the game to win the game. That’s it. We were just playing the game. We were focused and had fun. I had some really nice compliments from the other team, like “nice shot” or “you’re not making this game fun” or “you had an excellent game.” I don’t expect those comment, but I do expect etiquette, respectful play, and a good game. We got that. Apparently, the other team has not been shut out this year. What I am so impressed with is, we stole every point. Statistically, it’s very challenging to achieve. It was never the goal, but it’s an achievement that is worth noting. We have won every game I’ve skipped so far this year and we won one game during the first half of the season. I played third. Maybe it’s not my position. I don’t mention the win-loss record to nourish my ego, I say it to affirm the importance of mindset and intention. The wins and loses are only by-products of how we play the game. This idea is the lesson learned from curling.