For many curlers, it can be difficult to find time to practice shot making. When you do get precious ice time for dedicated practice sessions you need to know a few great curling drills so you can make the most of your time. Below are eight great drills for curlers of all abilities to practice and improve draw shots, take outs, and overall shot making ability. Ideas for these curling drills came from the book Curl to Win by Russ Howard.
1) Straight Runbacks
- weight control, release consistency
Set up a guard at the top of the house on the center line. Set up a second rock on the button. Try to consistently throw the six foot straight runback. Give yourself a point each time you are able to drive the guard stone into the stone on the button. Throw 8 rocks in a row, four in turns and four out turns, and do your best to maintain consistent shot speed.
2) Angled Raise
- aim, mastering of angles
Set up one rock on the button and a second rock six feet in front of the tee line as a corner guard. Try to consistently hit the guard with your thrown rock, and send the guard stone into the stone on the button. Give yourself one point each time you are successful. Throw this shot 8 times, four in turns and four out turns. Focus on the importance of hitting the guard on the correct point to get the angle into the button just right.
3) Hit and Stick
- balance, alignment, weight control
Set up a stone on the button. Score a point when you hit the stone on the button and your thrown rock stays within the four foot ring. Throw four in turns and four out turns for a total of eight shots. Focus on controlling your shot weight and consistently hitting the correct line.
4) Hit and Roll
- weight control
Set up a stone two feet in front of the tee line, in the middle of the eight foot ring. Try to hit the stone in the eight foot with your thrown rock and roll your rock to come to rest inside the four foot ring. This shot will be most effective with soft weight, so make your sweepers work. Throw four in turns and four out turns for a total of eight shots, and score a point each time your rock stops in the four foot.
5) Draw to the Button
- weight control
This is a shot a skip may have to make to save a point, so it is a great shot to practice and perfect. Throw 16 shots in a row, 8 out turns and 8 in turns. Score a point each time your shot lands within the four foot circle. Remember to take your shots out of play before you throw the next rock, this is about draw weight control not hitting.
6) Draw to a Zone
- weight control
You will need to be able to draw to spots all over the house and the guard zone. Randomly pick a zone from 1-10 and score a point if you are able to rest the rock within that numbered zone. Zones 1-3 are the free guard zone, 7 is the button, and 10 is the back of the house (full diagram above). Throw sixteen shots (8 in turn, 8 out turn).
7) Hit and Stick 8 Times
- ice reading, shot calling, control
Throw eight yellow rocks randomly around the house. Next, throw eight red rocks with the goal of removing all eight yellow rocks while leaving all of the red rocks in the rings. Score one point for each yellow rock that lands in the rings, and also score one point for each red rock remaining in the rings when all 16 rocks have been thrown. A perfect score here is 16. Do your best to spread your initial yellow rocks out as much as possible. This will make your task much easier when throwing your red rocks.
8) Stack ’em Up
- weight control, sweeping judgement
The goal of this curling drill is to get as many rocks in play as possible. Draw your first rock as deep as you possibly can on the center line. Throw your next rock as close to the first one as possible without hitting. Continue this pattern with the rule that each rock you throw has to be shorter in distance than the previous rock without touching the previous rock. Basically, try to stack up as many rocks as possible along the center line without hitting. If you throw a rock too deep the drill is over. Score one point for each successful shot, maximum 16 points.