The Curling Manual

Table of Contents

Section 13 Junior Curling

Junior curling is a broad term that includes all young curlers up to their senior year in high school (12th grade). Juniors provide many things to a strong curling club. They are the future of most clubs as life-long league members and in some cases, the championship players of the next generation. Whether you're a program coordinator, instructor or just a Sunday afternoon helper, this section will help you understand how young people learn and develop as curlers.

For curling to be a positive experience for the kids, they must HAVE FUN FIRST. A bad experience early will lose them forever. Please concentrate on the kids having fun first. For the youngest curlers, fun means combining some non-curling activities into the curling day. Knocking down bowling pins, short games, etc. will help keep the youngest curlers interested. As they grow and transition through the different age categories, playing real games and learning the sport will be fun enough. Also, having fun will always ensure a good learning environment.

Before the early 1990's, junior curlers threw the 42 lb regulation size rocks. This was fine with the older juniors but if you couldn't throw them the full sheet, you could not curl. Today, children of almost every age can enjoy the sport starting with smaller, junior rocks. These rocks are half the weight of a regular rock. With proper instruction and realistic expectations, children as young as five years old can learn the sport of curling and have fun on the ice. Many curling clubs around the world have junior rocks for use by the smaller kids.

This section describes:

  • How to recruit young curlers.
  • How to categorize your young curlers for best results.
  • How to prepare your club for young curlers.
  • How to prepare your instructors.
  • The skill and knowledge standards for each category.
  • Training techniques, sample sessions, drills and games.
  • Skill and knowledge expectations for each group.

Recruiting Young Curlers

The vast majority of young curlers today are the children of existing club members. In an attempt to build a strong junior program, the Junior Coordinator must look outside the club for young members a well.

Curling at the Olympic Games, televised in the United States on the NBC stations, has dramatically elevated the level of curling awareness. Instead of the old "word of mouth" recruiting style, clubs can take advantage of the television coverage. This dramatically helps clubs recruit juniors outside the member base.

There are two approaches for recruiting young people.

  • Recruit by targeting adults AND children
  • Recruit only children

Approach #1 is better suited for clubs that need overall member support. Approach #2 is better suited for clubs at or near capacity during the evening but are looking for other day-part curling. In either case, there are plenty of young people out there looking for an after-school activity. Fortunately, curling is a sport that be enjoyed by people with a varying degrees of skill and athleticism.

Three selling points can be used with non-curling parents.

  1. Children of all ages and skill level can enjoy curling
  2. Athletic and social skills are part of curling
  3. In most cases, children have a much greater chance of becoming an Olympian in curling than in any other sport (there are only 15,000 total curlers in the US, very small compared to baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, etc.)

Most young curlers (and adults) will agree that attending a bonspiel was a deciding factor when deciding to stay with curling. Try to get the young recruits to a local bonspiel as early as possible. Of course, the out-of-town bonspiel is usually more appealing particularly with the high school age curlers.

Categorizing Young Curlers

CurlTech categorizes young curlers into three groups:

  1. Little Rockers
  2. Youth Curlers (split into two sub-groups - Green and Blue)
  3. Junior (teenage) Curlers

Each group has their own skill standards they can work toward and a set of expectations from the instructors.

For the purpose of instruction, training and social interaction, we separate kids into groups first by grade. As appropriate, the separation criteria can also include age and then, as they are transitioning from junior rocks to big rocks, by ability. Try to keep peers together if they're in the same grade. Difficulties arise when trying to keep grade-different friends together. Siblings also represent a challenge when transitioning through the categories, particularly if the category sessions are at different times.

The following categories may help your instructional program.

Little Rockers Kindergarten and Grade 1 (ages 5 & 6)
Youth Grades 2 through 6 (ages 7-12)
Junior Curlers Grades 7 through 12 (ages 13-18)

The Youth Curling category is further defined by skill, maturity and experience. This age group begins to properly develop curling skills and like all sports, develop at different rates. They should be split into two sub-groups. Use colors (Green and Blue) instead of A and B. Colors are more neutral and don't imply better or worse.

In the Youth category, split the young curlers as follows:

  • Youth Group Green Grades 2-4 using junior rocks
  • Youth Group Blue Grades 4-6 using adult rocks

The Green group kids are the younger Youth Curlers (grades 2-4, ages 7-9). They are becoming more comfortable with the delivery but can't throw the adult rocks yet. Think of all your Youth Curlers as Green Group until they can throw the adult rocks, and then move them up to the Blue category.

Notice the Green/Blue overlap at grade four. This "flex" area gives the coordinator some flexibility when transitioning this age group. It is perfectly acceptable for a fourth grader to stay in the Green group if he or she is having trouble with the mechanics. It is also acceptable to transition a fourth grader into the Blue group. If they have friends in the program that are the same grade, try to keep them together.

Preparing Your Club

Your club, ice and equipment will need some special attention to accommodate young curlers. The capital investment is minimal and the eventual payoff for your club regarding young curlers is huge. Get the buy-in from your Board and begin your program.

Dues for Young Curlers

Clubs should offer a dramatically reduced rate for the young curlers. Choose a dues rate that allows the parents to easily get the kids involved but don't give away your program by under-selling it. A good program has value and should not be undersold. Fees in the $30 to $50 range work well. Don't try to make money on the kids. They will be life-long full dues paying members later on. In fact, ask your Board to subsidize the junior program.

Equipment

There a several equipment items your club will need for the Junior Program (see Figure 13-1). The most important are:

Smaller size (junior) rocks

Sliding devices

Full, slip-on sliders

Figure 13-1. Young players need a variety of brooms, sliders, sliding devices and two types of rocks. The small rock at the left is a "toy" rock and should not be used for delivery.

Rocks

You'll need two types of rocks. Your normal rocks will be used for the older, larger kids. A set of smaller rocks is required for the younger, smaller kids. The junior rock with granite inserts work best. Google "curling rock manufacturers" for rock dealers.

Small rocks are used by the Little Rockers and Youth Green curlers. The regulation size rocks are used by the Youth Blue and Junior curlers.

Sliding Devices

The sliding device is used by all of the young curlers in your program until they can transition to a broom for sliding. They come in many sizes and shapes. You will need several sliding devices since all of the Little Rockers and half of the Youth curlers use them. You can purchase them or make them yourself.

Sliders

Always use full slip-on sliders. Purchase one slider for every young curler on your list. . If necessary you can de-rate them (make them slower) by covering the Teflon with duct tape.

Brooms

Cut off some brooms for the younger kids. Brooms should be about chest high for proper sweeping.

Other Equipment

Your youngest curlers (Little Rockers) will be throwing the rocks using a half sheet. There are two ways to accomplish this. Build a hack device that can be inserted half way down the ice (Figure 13-2) or paint a full size house half way down.

Ice

The younger curlers have a difficult time throwing the rocks the full length of the ice. Make sure your ice is prepared before each session. Scrape the ice, apply a small pebble and nip if you can. Try to have 24 second (minimum) ice for the start of the day. The faster the ice, the better.

Kitchen

Make sure there plenty of kids-type snacks ready for junior day. For each break period, have plenty of water, juices and healthy snacks for the young curlers to eat. Avoid soft drinks and low-nutrition snacks. Try sliced oranges and apples.

Uniforms

We recommend having uniform jackets for your junior program. Use the club colors and have the first names of the kids on the front. The club can provide these or each curler can pay for their own. Encourage them to wear the uniforms at practice and at bonspiels. The names on the jackets also help the instructors remember kids during instruction.

Figure 13-2. This is an example of a half sheet hack device. It allows the youngest players in the Little Rocker group to throw rocks using the half sheet.

Scheduling Ice Time

Work with your Board to schedule a dedicated time for the junior program. Depending on how many kids you have you should ask for at least two sessions per week, one on the weekend and one during the week after school. The minimum amount of time must be two hours on each day. Since your volunteers will be available on weekends, teach the mechanics. Possibly use a week day time for a junior league.

Staffing Your Program

In addition to the Junior Program coordinator, you will need at least one instructor per sheet of ice. Add an instructor if you have a lot of Little Rockers. If you plan on adding new kids to the program during the year, you will need another instructor to work one-on-one with new kids. Also, a volunteer in the kitchen each session is needed to gather and serve smacks during break time.

Use the following as a guideline for staffing a three sheet club with 5 Little Rockers, 8 Youth Green, 8 Youth Blue and 12 Juniors.

Junior Coordinator 1
Little Rocker Instructors 1
Youth Green Instructors 2*
Youth Blue Instructors 2*
Junior Instructors 2*
Kitchen Volunteer 1
Total Staff 9
*The extra instructor here can help newer kids come up to speed.

Fortunately the parents of the kids usually volunteer to instruct.

Transitioning Through the Categories

Some subjectivity is necessary when moving the kids through the different categories. School grade should be the first determining factor when moving through the categories. Three other things will also help determine whether or not a young curler should move up:

  1. Grade
  2. Age
  3. Skill
  4. Maturity

Grade and Age

The program categories are based mainly on school grade. Keep in mind that in any given grade, the ages could differ by as much as two years.

Skill and Maturity

Skill training in each category is based on the skill standards. All young curlers should be trained to meet the standard in their last year of their category. Some may reach the goals early but social reasons should keep them with their peers. Skilled curlers can move into a higher category but only if the social maturity is there.

The Exceptions

Most of your young curlers will advance through categories by grade. There will be some curlers that can advance (or not advance) at different times. A mature four-year old that can focus for two hours may enter the Little Rocker program by exception. Little Rockers transitioning to Youth Green is a softer transition, meaning the distinction is less clear between the skill sets. Green transitioning to Blue is also a soft transition where grade advancement is not as critical. Once again try to keep peers together by grade.

The transition between Youth Blue and Junior (teenage) is absolute because the seventh grader is turning thirteen during this school year. This means a seventh grader MUST play in the Junior category.

Preparing Your Instructors

The key to a successful program is a strong volunteer group. Recruit competent parents and club members to instruct at the junior sessions. Try to find volunteers that are already certified instructors. Since many of the volunteers are parents, you may not have enough certified instructors. If there are certification courses available in your area, ask your volunteers to take the course and become certified at the entry level. You may want to conduct a Junior Instructor Certification course at your club before the start of the season. Certify each on-ice volunteer as a Junior Instructor, even if it's only a local or club certification. This will help ensure consistent instruction across the program. Once you have identified volunteers to be instructors, follow these steps.

  1. Have the instructors submit CORI reports* to the coordinator.
  2. Have them read this section.
  3. Read the Delivery, Sweeping sections of www.curlingschool.com.
  4. Conduct a certification meeting to review the material.

*Child safety in all categories should be a main concern of your program. Like other youth sport coaching, require your instructors to submit a CORI report or something similar. This will help protect the children and your club. Contact your national association for recommendations regarding this process.

Train-the-Trainer Basics

The Curling School uses a standard five-step skill training process. It is very important that the trainer use this process for all skills training. The following steps are the industry standard in skill training. More information can gathered in the Teaching Curling Section of this manual.

Step 1 Review material
Step 2 Demonstrate the skill properly
Step 3 Let the student try the skill
Step 4 Provide feedback to the student
Step 5 Practice

Repeat steps 3-4 as needed. Repeat steps 2-4 if necessary.

One of the most important steps is to demonstrate the skill properly, as described in this manual. Demonstrating a skill using "your" method will reduce results and not allow the kids to meet the proficiency standards. Review the Delivery and Sweeping sections before you demonstrate any skills.

Teaching to the Standards

Teaching standards come in two categories;

  • Proficiency standards - ability to demonstrate a skill
  • Performance Standards - ability to execute with the skill

CurlTech has defined the achievable proficiency standards for each category. Each category section will describe the standards for each group. It is very important that the instructors teach to the standard and not to some arbitrary skill level. This manual provides the structure for properly developing and measuring skills for young curlers.

Curling is a team sport and performance is difficult to measure. CurlTech does not set performance standards for young curlers.

Proficiency vs. Performance Standards

Proficiency is a player's ability to demonstrate a skill while performance is based on any other variables. Demonstrating a balanced delivery does not mean the player can make shots. Shot-making ability is a performance standard. Performance comes from skills, knowledge and experience. In our junior program, we do not have performance standards due to the relative inexperience of the players. However, when the juniors get older and play on more teams, performance standards are more relevant to the program.

Start thinking about performance standards for the older group. The following are examples of performance standards.

Individual Performance Standards
  • Ability to throw on the line of delivery
  • Ability to throw proper weight
Team Performance Standards
  • Take-out and draw shot-making percentage

Curling Mechanics for Young People

Just like adults, we teach the no-lift, balanced, flat-footed delivery. The mechanics are the same for adults and kids. The sweeping standard for juniors is also the same. We teach upright sweeping with the inside arm down and two grippers. The biggest difference in teaching kids verses adults is the level of proficiency and expectations.

Review the CurlTech Delivery or the Delivery Quick Reference in the Delivery Section.

Balance is the Foundation

We teach adults to throw the rock balanced. It is the foundation of a good delivery.

"Balance" refers to the body positioned over the sliding foot with no appreciable pressure on the broom, rock or trailing leg. This results in a straight slide. Although it's preferred, it is not necessary to slide perfectly balanced over the slider.

Because of individual skill differences, young curlers begin to balance on the slider foot at different ages. Generally speaking, grades K-3 have a very difficult time balancing on the slider. As their bodies grow and they develop leg strength, they can begin to slide balanced. We use a sliding device for all young curlers until they can slide balanced. When they begin to slide balanced (roughly fourth grade), take away the sliding device and replace it with a broom. If they cannot balance reasonably without a sliding device, allow them to continue using it for another year.

Little Rockers (Kindergarten and 1st Grade)

Experience has proven that kids as young as five can enjoy curling. Start your youngest kids in the Little Rocker category. Require a parent stay in close proximity to their child either on the ice or just behind the glass. This allows the instructor to easily remove a disruptive curler. If a Little Rocker's behavior is preventing the others from having fun and learning, ask the parent to remove them from the ice. A well-timed "time-out" can go along way with the child AND parent.

The Little Rockers can have fun with the sport even if they can't throw the rocks the full distance. Little Rockers use the small rocks only.

The Little Rocker curriculum is based on the following age appropriate standards.

Little Rocker Proficiency Standards

Before a Little Rocker advances to the next category (Youth Green), they should be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Two pre-game stretching exercises
  • A proper setup position
  • A proper 1-2-3 delivery with a full slider, a sliding device and a rock (no release). The sliding foot should be roughly underneath the body with the hack foot trailing straight behind.
  • Upright sweeping with no slider on a draw weight rock (half sheet)
  • Throw a small rock into play on a half sheet
  • An in-turn and out-turn from the skip's signal

They should also have the following curling knowledge:

  • Two safety items to consider while curling
  • Shot types - draw, takeout and guard

Testing for Learning

Kids see tests as punishment. However, without them we're not sure if our teaching is getting through. Occasionally test them against the standard. This can be casual and discrete. About every month, have the kids demonstrate a skill or ask them a curling question. If they can do it, your teaching is working. If they can't, either your teaching is failing or their not ready yet. In most cases, the child is simply not ready to demonstrate the skill properly and more repetition is needed. This is the case in the beginning of each category when the kids transition from a lower group. Remember, they have two or three more years to practice. As they get closer to the transitioning to a higher group, note any deficiencies and concentrate on them. Create a more formal test to judge whether they're ready to transition to another group.

Little Rocker Expectations

If you know anything about kids, you know this group has a very short attention span. Break up your sessions into 15 minute segments, maximum. Remember, at the early age, this group cannot properly balance on the sliding foot. They have a very difficult time standing on the ice much less balancing over a slider. Don't expect them to do so. They should slide with a sliding device and rock until they are comfortable releasing. They throw on a half sheet or to the hog line. Components of the mechanics that don't require motion can be taught like adults. For example, the proper setup position can be taught to any age. The grip on the rock and broom can also be taught.

With the proper equipment and instruction, Little Rockers can deliver rocks in a similar fashion to adults, even if it's only a few feet. Never ask a Little Rocker to throw the rock the full length of the sheet. Even though they may be able, improper mechanics is usually the result. Throwing half way is a much better way to get them comfortable with the delivery. Have them throw rocks and play games from the regulation hack to the closest hog line.

Little Rocker Equipment

Sliders

Teaching the youngest curlers to put on the slider can be a challenge. Because of this, start right away with a full slider demonstration. Use duct tape covered slider for the absolute beginners. Once they feel more comfortable with a slippery foot, they can transition to a slip-on slider. The slider is for delivery only. Never ask them to slide around the ice with a slider. Because this group cannot balance properly over the slider foot, some assistance is necessary.

Sliding Device

Remember, Little Rockers must use a sliding device when learning the proper delivery. This allows them to use downward pressure with the left arm to help support the body. You slowly wean them away from the sliding device when they get older. We've seen dramatic results with five year-olds when using a sliding device. When the child is big enough to balance on their own, remove the sliding device and have them slide balanced with a broom. This happens from ages 8 and up.

Shoes

Also use a good pair of gripping shoes. Test the shoes for grip before sending the Little Rocker on the ice.

Brooms

A shortened broom will help them develop a good sweeping grip and motion. Cut off some old brooms. The broom should be chest-high.

Teaching to the Skill Standard

Through repetition, Little Rockers can easily meet the proficiency standards stated earlier. Each session, you will review the three compulsory items:

  1. Setup
  2. Delivery
  3. Sweeping

The following are examples of sessions lasting an hour and forty five minutes. Alternate the sessions throughout the year.

Little Rocker Session #1
Stretching 5 minutes – Off ice
Use two or three stretching exercises. Deep-knee bends and the curling extension should be mandatory.
Setup 5 Minutes – Off ice
In the warm room, have the kid's line up and show you the proper setup. Check against the standard. The kids should be able to setup properly. If time permits, have the kids extend to the sliding position. This extension drill teaches the kids to balance over the sliding foot.
Putting on the Slider
In the warm room, have the kid's practice putting on their slider.
Delivery 15 minutes – On ice
At the hack, have the kids take turns practicing the slide with a 1-2-3 delivery. Always use a sliding device and a small rock. The most important thing for this group is the weight shift back. They must step back onto the sliding foot before they move forward. They will slide on the full slider with the sliding device and rock. DO NOT RELEASE. Shot throwing happens in the draw and takeout drill. Remove sliders and take a break.
Break 10 Minutes Elapsed time after break :35
Sweeping 10 Minutes
Take the sliders off and have the kid's line up to sweep the center line. Place half the kids on one side and half on the other. Have each kid demonstrate the sweeping action. Look for the required components:
  • Stance is 45 degrees to the line of delivery
  • Inside arm down with hand half way down the handle
  • Down hand uses overhand grip to provide pressure
  • Up hand uses an underhand grip
  • Drive broom head with upper shoulder

Sweep the center line for half the sheet. Don't change sides, switch hands and sweep back. The kids are forced to switch hands and sweep on both sides. Never ask a Little Rocker to sweep a full speed rock.

Turns 5 Minutes
In the hack area, have the kids take turns cocking the handle in response to the instructor's hand signals. Have them point the handle toward the skip's arm then rotate in the opposite direction. Move around and use both turns.
Draw 10 minutes
Using the half sheet hacks, have the kids throw to the instructor who is standing about twenty feet away. The goal is to use the delivery to move the rock forward. After one round, have them throw to the house (half sheet). They may not be able to make the house. It's important that the kids throw with a steady slide. It's better to throw a draw half way with a smooth slide than to hit the house with a huge push. As they get older, they will start to develop more power.
Break 10 Minutes Elapsed time after break 1:10
Fun Activity 20 Minutes
See the below list of fun games for Little Rockers
Total Time 1:30

Fun Games for Little Rockers

Little Rockers don't play any regular games. They need a variety of activities to keep them interested. The same old delivery and sweeping drill get old fast. Below are a few examples of fun games and activities. Try your own as long as they stress the delivery and sweeping mechanics.

Bowling pins - Set up a few plastic bowling pins between the house and the hog line. Let the kids knock them down. This helps them with the concept of throwing the rocks in the right direction. Keep the pins close to the hog line to ensure proper delivery mechanics.

Short game - Have the kids play a game from the hack to the closest house. Split them up into teams and coach them through an end or two. This teaches them the basics of shot calling. They may be able to use the adult rocks. This is not a delivery drill.

Figure 13-3. The "Short Game" can help younger kids learn about shots and basic strategy.

Closest to the Hog - As mentioned earlier, the little kids can't properly throw the full length. With a sliding device, they can demonstrate a proper deliver (without the balance) if they throw to the hog line. Play a game where the winner is the closest to the hog line without going over. Any rock that is over is out of play similar to a real game.

This game stressed the importance of the draw concept. Rocks should be removed from play if they cross the hog line, just like in a game. Remind them that curling is a finesse game.

Youth Curlers (grades 2-6)

The Youth age group is the most dynamic group because, during their time as Youth curlers, they are transitioning from small rocks to the regulation size rocks. Because of this, we further define the category by skill. This age group begins to properly develop curling skills and like all sports, develop at different rates. As they move from Little Rockers to Youth (2nd grade) some will grasp the delivery mechanics and others will not. In the Youth category, we split the kids into two groups, the Green and the Blue. The Youth-Green curlers (grades 2-4) are younger, smaller and less skilled. They will use the junior rocks. The Youth-Blue (approx. grades 4-6) group throws the regulation size rocks.

Since the two groups use different rocks, they must have dedicated sheets.

The Youth-Green Group (grades 2-4)

Youth-Green Proficiency Standards

Before a Youth Green advances to the next category (Youth Blue), they should be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Three pre-game stretching exercises
  • A proper setup position
  • A 1-2-3 delivery with a full slider, a sliding device and NO rock. The sliding foot should be underneath the body with the hack foot trailing straight behind.
  • Upright sweeping with no slider on a draw weight and takeout weight rock
  • Throw a small rock draw into play on a full sheet
  • Throw a small rock takeout on a full sheet (3.20 split)
  • An in-turn and out-turn from the skip's signal
  • A release to the hand shake position
  • Basic shot calling with and without the hammer (center or sides)
  • Determine and properly post the score

They should also have the following curling knowledge:

  • Two safety items to consider while curling
  • In-turn and out-turn rotation (clockwise, counter clockwise)
  • Shot types draw, takeout and guard

Figure 13-4. This 2nd grader can slide out of the hack with a junior rock. She is in her first year of the Youth Green category. A sliding device is needed to help her slide and stay upright.

Teaching to the Youth Green Standards

Like the Little Rockers, the goal of the program is to have the kids have fun AND learn the proper skills at the same time.

One third of the session should be dedicated to skill training. The other two thirds should be used for some type of game. For the first third of each session, have the kids perform the skill training drills for each standard. Each week use the stretching, setup, delivery and sweeping drills. Alternate each week with the remaining drills. The following is an example of a session lasting approximately two hours. An instructor must be present to correct problems during the drills. Just a few poor technique repetitions will cause lasting problems. Once the game starts, an instructor is need at each end of the sheet.

Testing for Learning

As with the Little Rockers you should occasionally test them against the standard. This can be casual and discrete. About every month, have the kids demonstrate a skill or ask them a curling question. If they can do it, your teaching is working. If they can't, either your teaching is failing or their not ready yet. In most cases, the child is simply not ready to demonstrate the skill properly and more repetition is needed. This is the case in the beginning of each category when the kids transition from a lower group. Remember, they have two or three more years to practice. As they get closer to the transitioning to a higher group, note any deficiencies and concentrate on them. Create a more formal test to judge whether they're ready to transition to another group.

Green Group Expectations

This group can begin to properly deliver a junior size rock, although they won't have full control of the delivery yet. They may or may not be able to throw normal weight takeouts. Like all categories, some kids will be able to slide over their slider foot without much weight on the sliding device. At grades 3 and 4, transition them from a sliding device to a broom. If they can't slide with reasonable balance, keep them on the sliding device.

Youth Green Sample Session #1
Stretching 5 minutes Off ice
Use two or three stretching exercises. Deep knee bends and the curling extension should be mandatory.
Setup 5 Minutes On Ice
Along the wall, have the kid's setup with their brooms (not with sliding devices). Check against the standard. The kids should be able to setup properly. If time permits, have the kids extend from wall by reaching out to the center line and shifting weight onto to the sliding foot. This extension drill teaches the kids to balance over the sliding foot. DO NOT SLIDE. Slides must be done from the hack to allow the weight shift and step back.
Repetitions: 4 times per player
Delivery 10 minutes
At the hack, have the kids take turns practicing the slide. Always use a sliding device and a small rock. The most important thing for this group is to shift weight back. They must step back onto the sliding foot then move the rock forward first. They will slide on the full slider with the sliding device and rock. DO NOT RELEASE. Shot throwing happens in the draw and takeout drill.
Repetitions: 6 times per player
Sweeping 5 Minutes

Take the sliders off and have the kid's line up to sweep the center line. Place half the kids on one side and half on the other. Sliders should be with them perhaps on their arm. The instructor should demonstrate each time until the kids don't need it any longer. Have each kid demonstrate the sweeping action. Look for the required components:

  • Stance is 45 degrees to the line of delivery
  • Inside arm down with hand half way down the handle
  • Down hand uses overhand grip to provide pressure
  • Up hand uses an underhand grip
  • Drive broom head with upper shoulder
  • Shuffle feet instead of walking (new skill not covered in Little Rockers)

Sweep the center line the entire length. Don't change sides and sweep back. The kids are forced to switch hands and sweep on both sides.

Repetitions: Twice up and back
Shots and Turns 5 Minutes
Prepare the kids to play a game by demonstrating the skip's shot calling procedure. Demonstrate draws and takeouts. In the hack area and without sliding, have the kids take turns cocking the handle in response to the instructor's hand signals. They can simulate a release to show understanding. Move around and use both turns.
Repetitions: 2 times per player
Draw 5 minutes
In the hack, have the kids throw a draw-weight rock to the instructor at the near hog line with a smooth slide and release. After one round, switch to the full sheet. The younger kids (grade 1) may not come close. It's important that the kids throw with a steady slide. It's better to throw a draw half way with a smooth slide than to hit the house with a huge push. For the younger kids expect a draw to stop short. As they get older (grades 3 and 4) they will start to develop more power.
Break 10 Minutes
Game 1 hour
Divide the kids by skill and age. Let the older kids play skip and vice. Instructors should be on the ice to manage positioning, readiness and game speed.
Youth Green Sample Session #2
Stretching 5 minutes Off ice
Use two or three stretching exercises. Deep knee bends and the curling extension should be mandatory.
Setup 5 Minutes On Ice
Along the wall, have the kid's setup with their brooms (not with sliding devices). Check against the standard. The kids should be able to setup properly. If time permits, have the kids extend from wall by reaching out to the center line and shifting weight onto to the sliding foot. This extension drill teaches the kids to balance over the sliding foot. DO NOT SLIDE. Slides must be done from the hack to allow the weight shift and step back.
Repetitions: 4 times per player
Delivery 10 minutes
At the hack, have the kids take turns practicing the slide. Always use a sliding device and a small rock. The most important thing for this group is to shift weight back. They must step back onto the sliding foot then move the rock forward first. They will slide on the full slider with the sliding device and rock. DO NOT RELEASE. Shot throwing happens in the draw and takeout drill.
Repetitions: 6 times per player
Sweeping 5 Minutes
Take the sliders off and have the kid's line up to sweep the center line. Place half the kids on one side and half on the other. Sliders should be with them perhaps on their arm. The instructor should demonstrate each time until the kids don't need it any longer. Have each kid demonstrate the sweeping action. Look for the required components:
  • Stance is 45 degrees to the line of delivery
  • Inside arm down with hand half way down the handle
  • Down hand uses overhand grip to provide pressure
  • Up hand uses an underhand grip
  • Drive broom head with upper shoulder
  • Shuffle feet instead of walking (new skill not covered in Little Rockers)

Sweep the center line the entire length. Don't change sides and sweep back. The kids are forced to switch hands and sweep on both sides.

Repetitions: Twice up and back
Shots and Turns 5 Minutes
Prepare the kids to play a game by demonstrating the skip's shot calling procedure. Demonstrate draws and takeouts. In the hack area and without sliding, have the kids take turns cocking the handle in response to the instructor's hand signals. They can simulate a release to show understanding. Move around and use both turns.
Repetitions: 2 times per player
Takeouts 5 minutes
In the hack, have the kids throw to the instructor at the near hog line with a smooth slide and release. Stress the importance of a good push from hack to throw the takeout weight. After two rounds, switch to the full sheet. The younger kids (grade 2) may not come close. It's important that the kids throw with a steady slide. It's better to throw a takeout light with a smooth slide than to throw big weight with a huge push. As they get older (grades 3 and 4) they will start to develop more power.
Repetitions: 4 per player
Release 5 minutes
In the hack, have the kids setup with the rock cocked at 45 degrees. Have them deliver the rock keeping the rock cocked until they release in a hand-shake position.
Repetitions: 4 per player
Break 10 Minutes
Game 1 hour
Divide the kids by skill and age. Let the older kids play skip and vice. Instructors should be on the ice to manage positioning, readiness and game speed.


The Youth-Blue Group (grades 4-6)

Youth-Blue Proficiency Standards

Youth-Blue curler advances to the Junior category for seventh grade regardless of skill. However, they should be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Several pre-game stretching exercises
  • A proper setup position
  • A 1-2-3 delivery with a full slider, a broom (no sliding device) and NO rock. The sliding foot should be underneath the body with the hack foot trailing straight behind and no weight on the broom or rock
  • Upright sweeping with no slider on takeout and peel weight rocks
  • Throw a regulation rock draw into play on a full sheet
  • Throw a regulation rock takeout on a full sheet (3.10 split)
  • A release from a constant 45 degree angle to the hand shake position
  • Judge the weight of a draw within 20 feet of its resting spot
  • Focus for an entire 8-end game
  • Put 1 of 4 draws in play
  • Make contact on 1 of 4 take-outs

They should also have the following curling knowledge:

  • Several safety items to consider while curling
  • In-turn and out-turn rotation
  • Free Guard Zone Rule
  • Shot types draw, takeout and guard, peel, freeze, come around
  • Basic shot-calling tactics with and without hammer
  • Teaching to the Youth Blue Standards

Again, the goal of the program is to have the kids have fun AND learn the proper skills at the same time.

One quarter of the scheduled time should be dedicated to skill training. The other three quarters should be used for a game. For the first half of each session, have the kids perform the skill training drills for each standard. Each week use the stretching, setup, delivery and sweeping drills. Alternate each week with the remaining drills. The following is an example of a two-hour session.

Testing for Learning

As with the Little Rockers and Youth Green groups, occasionally test them against the standard. This can be casual and discrete. About every month, have the kids demonstrate a skill or ask them a curling question. If they can do it, your teaching is working. If they can't, either your teaching is failing or their not ready yet. In most cases, the child is simply not ready to demonstrate the skill properly and more repetition is needed. This is the case in the beginning of each category when the kids transition from a lower group. Remember, they have two or three more years to practice. As they get closer to the transitioning to a higher group, note any deficiencies and concentrate on them. Create a more formal test to judge whether they're ready to transition to another group.

Blue Group Expectations

This group can begin to properly deliver a regulation size rock. They won't have full control of the delivery yet even though they think they should. They may or may not be able to throw normal weight takeouts. Like all categories, some kids will be able to slide over their slider foot without weight on the broom. This is the time to transition them from a sliding device to a broom. If they can't slide with reasonable balance, keep them on the sliding device.

Curling Shoes?

The Youth Blue curlers are encouraged to purchase curling shoes (or have a slider built into a pair of sneakers) although a full slider can still work well at these ages. The value of curling shoes is in the sliding platform. With curling shoes, the sliding platform is much more stable than the slip-on slider and will increase performance.

Figure 5. This sixth grader can balance over his sliding foot. He delivers a regulation size rock in the last year of the Youth Blue category. He slides with a regular broom without putting weight on it. He also slides with a 1/4 inch slider built into his sneakers.


Youth Blue Sample Session #1
Stretching 5 minutes Off ice
Use two or three stretching exercises. Deep knee bends and the curling extension should be mandatory.
Setup & Delivery 15 Minutes
At the hack, have the curlers take turns with two practice slides. They will rotate using two or three sliding devices. For each player, then have them demonstrate the proper setup first. Early in the season the instructor will demonstrate but as they get more comfortable with the drill they can do it own their own, with instructor feedback. The younger curlers (grade 4 may still need a sliding device if they can't balance over the foot). Check for the following "delivery critical" components:
  • Step back onto sliding foot with hips behind hack
  • Delay sliding foot as body starts forward
  • Place heel on line of delivery
  • Hold 45 degrees until release

The most important thing for this group is to step back onto the sliding foot then move the rock forward first. There should be no movement past back-dead-center of the draw step move. Remember, this is a delivery drill and NOT shot-making drill. Watch closely for problems with mechanics.

Stand at the hog line and have them throw draw-weight shots to you. Watch the deliveries and provide feedback.

Repetitions: 4 each
Sweeping 5 Minutes
Take the sliders off and have them line up to sweep live rocks. Place half of them on one side and half on the other. The instructor should push a rock for the two lead sweepers (the ones in line first, one on each side) to sweep. They must sweep the rock until it stops or is out of play. Watch the sweeping action. Look for the required components:
  • Step back onto sliding foot with hips behind hack
  • Delay sliding foot as body starts forward
  • Place heel on line of delivery
  • Hold 45 degrees until release

The most important thing for this group is to step back onto the sliding foot then move the rock forward first. There should be no movement past back-dead-center of the draw step move. Remember, this is a delivery drill and NOT shot-making drill. Watch closely for problems with mechanics.
Stand at the hog line and have them throw draw-weight shots to you. Watch the deliveries and provide feedback.

Repetitions: Twice up and back
Draw 5 minutes
In the hack, have the curlers throw draw shots full sheet. It's important that they throw with a steady slide. It's better to throw a draw half way with a smooth slide than to hit the house with a huge push.

Time the draws full sheet and have them understand the long time as the sheet speed. Have them measure the split times to get comfortable with splits being a sweeping tool.

Repetitions: 2 each
Break 10 Minutes
Game 1 hour
Divide the curlers by skill and age. Let the older kids play skip and vice. Instructors should be on the ice to manage positioning and game speed. At the middle or end of the season, the instructor can supervise from behind the glass.
Youth Blue Sample Session #2
Stretching 5 minutes – Off ice
Use two or three stretching exercises. Deep knee bends and the curling extension should be mandatory.
Drop Drill 10 Minutes
See the Practice Section for an explanation of the Drop Drill.

Before the curlers move into the delivery drill, have them take turns with the drop drill. Make sure the rock half way between the house and the hack before the sliding foot moves forward.

Repetitions: 2 each
Setup & Delivery 15 Minutes
Now that the curlers have done the drop drill, they can practice the full delivery. They will rotate using two or three sliding devices. For each player, then have them demonstrate the proper setup first. Early in the season the instructor will demonstrate but as they get more comfortable with the drill they can do it own their own, with instructor feedback. The younger curlers (grade 4 may still need a sliding device if they can't balance over the foot). Check for the following "delivery critical" components:
  • Step back onto sliding foot with hips behind hack
  • Delay sliding foot as body starts forward
    Place heel on line of delivery
  • Hold 45 degrees until release

The most important thing for this group is to step back onto the sliding foot then move the rock forward first. There should be no movement past back-dead-center of the draw step move. Remember, this is a delivery drill and NOT shot-making drill. Watch closely for problems with mechanics.

Stand at the hog line and have them throw draw-weight shots to you. Watch the deliveries and provide feedback.

Repetitions: 4 each
Sweeping 5 Minutes
Take the sliders off and have them line up to sweep live rocks. Place half of them on one side and half on the other. The instructor should push a rock for the two lead sweepers (the ones in line first, one on each side) to sweep. They must sweep the rock until it stops or is out of play. Watch the sweeping action. Look for the required components:
  • Stance is 45 degrees to the line of delivery
  • Inside arm down with hand half way down the handle
  • Down hand uses overhand grip to provide pressure
  • Up hand uses an underhand grip
  • Drive broom head with upper shoulder
  • Shuffle feet instead of walking

Repetitions: Twice up and back
Takeouts 5 minutes
In the hack, have them throw takeout weight shots to the instructor at the near hog line with a smooth slide and release. The "Drop" concept stressed earlier is helpful in generating more power on the takeouts. You can provide them with immediate feedback by split timing the takeout. The split should be between 3.00 and 3.20 seconds, back line to hog. The younger ones (grade 5) may not have the strength for full takeouts. It's important that the kids throw with a steady slide. It's better to throw a takeout light with a smooth slide than to throw big weight with a huge push. As they get older (grades 5 and 6) they will start to develop more power.
Repetitions: 3 each
Break 10 Minutes
Game 1 hour
Divide the curlers by skill and age. Let the older kids play skip and vice. Instructors should be on the ice to manage positioning and game speed. At the middle or end of the season, the instructor can supervise from behind the glass.


Junior (teenage) Curlers (grades 7-12)

As a rule, the Juniors should be delivering with the broom and not the sliding device. The sliding device may still be used by exception.

Expect this group to want more autonomy during the session due to more adult-like behavior (at least with the older kids). Socializing is an important part of this group's junior session. An instructor is still necessary to provide feedback during drills.

Junior Proficiency Standards

At the end of the Junior program, they should be able to demonstrate the following skills:

Several pre-game stretching exercises

  • A proper setup position
  • A balanced 1-2-3 delivery with a full slider, and a broom. The sliding foot should be underneath the body with the hack foot trailing straight behind and no weight on the broom or rock. A sliding device is acceptable* if the Junior curler cannot balance over the foot.
  • Upright sweeping with no slider on takeout and peel weight rocksWeight control on guards, house draws, hack weight, takeouts and peels.
  • A release from a constant 45 degree angle to the hand shake position
  • Proper weight judgment

*Like adults, there are junior age curlers that cannot balance over the sliding foot. Never force them to slide with a broom if they can't balance reasonably.

They should also have the following curling knowledge:

  • Several safety items to consider while curling
  • All shot types
  • Basic shot-calling tactics with and without hammer

Teaching to the Junior Standards

Again, the goal of the program is to have fun AND learn the proper skills at the same time. Playing games is a priority.

In the Junior category 1/4 of the scheduled time should be dedicated to skill training. The other 3/4 should be used for a game. For the first 1/4 of each session, have them perform the skill training drills for each standard. Each week use the stretching, setup, delivery and sweeping drills. Alternate each week with the remaining drills. The following is an example of a two-hour session.

Testing for Learning

As with the Little Rockers and Youth groups, occasionally test Juniors against the standard. This can be casual and discrete. About every month, have the kids demonstrate a skill or ask them a curling question. If they can do it, your teaching is working. If they can't, either your teaching is failing or their not ready yet. In most cases, the child is simply not ready to demonstrate the skill properly and more repetition is needed. This is the case in the beginning of each category when the kids transition from a lower group. Remember, they have two or three more years to practice. As they get closer to the transitioning to a higher group, note any deficiencies and concentrate on them. Create a more formal test to judge whether they're ready to transition to another group.

Junior Group Expectations

The Junior group should be treated like adults as far as skills and mechanics. There is a remarkable change in the ability to properly deliver a rock during the growth of the early teen years. We've seen twelve year-olds that can barely balance turn into thirteen year olds with perfect balance.

There will always be differences based on athleticism. Some juniors will be more proficient at the skills than others.

As the body begins to be more adult-like, the Junior curler can begin to slide and balance without problems. As for the delivery, you can expect as much from them as you could from adults. The younger ones that are just transitioning to Juniors may still have difficulty with takeout weight.

Sample Junior Session
The Junior group, like all curlers, needs repetition to engrain the proper delivery skills. Every Junior session should include delivery work. Instructors must be present to provide immediate feedback. The following drills MUST be done at every session:
  1. Stretching
  2. Comprehensive Delivery
  3. Sweeping

Each week, add a non-compulsory drill to further strengthen a given skill set. The following delivery drills can help the group focus on a particular detail of the delivery.

  • Balance Drill
  • Drop Drill
  • Release Drill
  • Take-out Drill (split-timed)
  • Draw Drill
Stretching 5 Minutes
By now they know the stretching exercises and can be stretched prior to the start time.
Comprehensive Delivery 15 Minutes
This drill involves properly demonstrating the entire delivery from set up to follow-through.

At the hack, have them take a few practice slides. There may be some that still need a sliding device if they can't balance over the foot. Watch for the following:

  • Proper setup
  • Use a 1-2-3 tempo in the delivery
  • Delay the sliding foot at draw back
  • No backward movement of the hips after stepping back onto sliding foot
  • Delay the sliding foot until the rock is half way.
  • By the tee line, slide with the broom 1 inch from the ice
  • Hold cocked handle until proper release
Repetitions: 3 each
Sweeping 5 Minutes
Take the sliders off and have them line up to sweep live rocks. Place half of them on one side and half on the other. The instructor should push a rock for the two lead sweepers (the ones in line first, one on each side) to sweep. They must sweep the rock until it stops or is out of play. Watch the sweeping action. Look for the required components:
  • Stance is 45 degrees to the line of delivery
  • Inside arm down with hand half way down the handle
  • Down hand uses overhand grip to provide pressure
  • Up hand uses an underhand grip
  • Drive broom head with upper shoulder
  • Shuffle feet instead of walking

At the far end, don't change sides but sweep back with switched arms.

Repetitions: Once up and back
Additional Drill 10 Minutes
Add an appropriate additional drill here.
Break 10 minutes
The older kids may prefer to take a break after the game.
Game 1 hour 15 minutes
Divide the Juniors into teams. Let the older ones play skip and vice while the younger ones play front-end. Early in the season, the instructors should be on the ice to manage positioning and game speed. Once they understand the routine, the instructor can monitor from behind the glass.
Elapsed Time: 2 Hours
Additional Drills
Drop Drill & Balance
Before they move into the delivery drill, have them take turns with the drop drill. Expect them to delay the foot until the rock is half way between the hack and the back of the house. After the transition period, they should slide with the broom 1 inch off the ice.
Repetitions: 3 each
Takeouts 5 minutes
In the hack, have the kids throw to the instructor at the near hog line with a smooth slide and release. Have them use the Drop Drill concept to generate more power on the takeouts. After one round, switch to the full sheet. The younger ones (grade 7 and 8) may not have the strength for full takeouts. It's important that the kids throw with a steady slide. It's better to throw a takeout light with a smooth slide than to throw big weight with a huge push. As they get older (grades 10 - 12) they will start to develop more power.

Split-time the takeouts. After each throw, the thrower takes the stopwatch and clocks the next delivery. The target takeout should be between 3.00 and 3.20 with a smooth delivery.

Junior Category Social Component

This is the age where social interaction becomes much more a part of curling. We recommend that all junior age curlers play on mixed teams (two girls, two boys, alternating positions) when part of your normal junior program. Junior age teams that want more competition may elect to form all boys and all girls teams to enter the national playdown process. Keep these teams and programs separate from you club junior program.

There will most likely be a huge difference in physical and social maturity in this age group since it spans from age 13 to 18. Try to place similar ages on teams and have them play each other.

Accepting New Kids in Your Program

Each year, your club accepts new young members. Some will have parents that curl. It's important that they enter the program properly. First, place the new curler into the appropriate grade category. An instructor will need to work individually with the inexperienced curler by acclimating them to the club and ice. For the next few sessions, the newer curler should receive individual attention until they are ready to work the drills and exercises with the experienced ones.

For example, a new 4th grader will join the Youth Green group and receive special attention for the first few sessions. A fifth grader is harder to place. You can place them in the Youth Green for a few sessions or place them directly into the Youth Blue.

New sixth and seventh graders should always be placed in the Youth Blue category due to the age differences between the Blue and Green. Again, special attention is needed to bring the new curler up to speed.

Seventh graders can start in the Youth-Blue if they don't have friends in the Junior category. They can also start in the Junior category. If starting in the Youth-Blue, move them up as soon as possible. Eighth graders should be placed into the Junior group.

In all cases, the new curler should come through the same development process that your existing players did. Start them with a sliding device and not a broom. Depending on their skill level, transition them onto a broom when they can properly use it.

Aging Out of the Program

The World Curling Federation age limit for the Junior Championships is 21. However, your local Junior program should only include junior high (middle school) and high school age curlers. Allowing the 19 through 21 year old group into your normal program and bonspiels could be a problem. Consider them adults (as they are since they're over 18) and encourage them to curl in the College Curling program, adult leagues and bonspiels.

Competitive Junior Programs at the Club

Your junior curling program at the club should be focused on the social aspects of the game. The social curler is the backbone of most clubs. Inevitably, some of your young curlers will seek a more competitive environment. We encourage clubs to develop programs for the more competitive as well. Keep them separate! Allowing your competitive teams to curl together in the social program and junior bonspiels will alienate the less competitive kids and your program will suffer. It's also simply not fair to allow your best players to play together in a social setting.

Set up another program at your club with different, more competitive goals and objectives. Give them a separate time slot. This program should include:

  • Team development
  • A commitment to proper delivery mechanics
  • Advanced equipment (shoes and brooms)
  • Effective and efficient sweeping
  • Game planning and strategy
  • Team communication
  • Mental toughness
  • Fitness and nutrition
  • Higher goals and objectives

Section Summary

  • Juniors must have FUN FIRST
  • Categorize your young curlers by grade
  • Teach to the proficiency standard for each group
  • Teach proper mechanics early
  • Use proper training techniques when teaching kids
  • Grades K-3/4 (and all brand new curlers, regardless of age) should use a sliding device and not a broom
  • For social and maturity reasons your junior program should end after high school
  • Develop a competitive program for the playdown curlers