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Friday, 20 April 2012

RIP - Jacques Martin, Canada mourns loss of Paralympic icon

Jim Armstrong, Jacques Martin and Chris Daw at 2009 Nationals

September 28, 1960 - April 19, 2012
It is with great sadness that Canada says goodbye to Paralympic icon Jacques Martin. A long time friend of mine that I knew for some 30 years. Jacques passed away suddenly of a heart attack yesterday (April 19 2012). Born in St-Denis-Brampton, Que., Jacques competed in six Paralympic Games between 1984 and 2004. He officially retired from athletics in 2010. In 2008 he took up wheelchair curling and was a member of Team Lessard for a few years before retiring in 2011.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jacques Martin” said Martin Goulet, Chief High Performance Officer. “His passion, dedication and contagious energy always made for a positive and motivating environment, our thoughts and prayers are with the Martin family and entire para-athletics community.”
A versatile athlete, Martin excelled in throwing events, especially so in the discus, shot put and javelin. Martin is a four time Paralympic Games gold medallist (1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996), silver medallist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and gold medalist at the 2005 IAAF World Championships in the demonstration javelin. He also held world records in the F55 classification shot put and javelin. Keep up the party Jacques.

Our sincere condlonces to the Martin family.

See in center

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Strategy & Tactics – Part Deux

So remembering; that Strategy represents your team’s basic means of achieving its intended outcomes in any given end, and provides direct tangible guidance as to the various shots that you should select.

We have developed the 4 steps of the strategic planning process – Strategic profile, Game Plan, End Plan and Shot Selection, right?
As we discussed; an End Plan represents your team’s specific blueprint for the current end, clearly defining your intended objective(s), along with particular strategy that you will use to achieve them. We need now to clear up what realistic objectives with and without last rock will be.

Realistic Objectives With last Rock
We must break the objectives into our 4 stages of an end while understanding that the objective is good there can be inherent risks to each selection.


Strategy Type
Realistic Objective
Inherent Risk
Protecting
Blank End/Score 1
Lowest Odds of Scoring 2
Probing (-)
Score 1 or Score 2
Limited odds of scoring more than 2
Probing (+)
Score 2/Score 1
Decent Odds of stealing against
Pursuing
Score 2/ Score 3 or more
Highest Odd of stealing against


Realistic Objectives Without last Rock

Strategy Type
Realistic Objective
Inherent Risk
Protecting
1 against/Blank end
Lowest Odds of stealing end
Probing (-)
1 against/steal 1
Limited odds of stealing end
Probing (+)
Steal 1/1 against
Decent Odds of Multiple against
Pursuing
Steal 1/Steal 2 or more
Highest Odds of Multiple against

So to better understand the strategy type we need to use a bit clearer language which might better explain the type. In the simplest terms we can put it together like this;



Protecting – STOP

Probing (-) – Be prepared to stop

Probing (+) – Be prepared to GO

Pursuing – GO


Simple right!
Your Game Plan identifies a ‘probable range’ of strategic options for each stage of the game. It applies until one team is able to build what you would consider to be a ‘sustainable lead’.  What a “sustainable lead” means to your team is up to your team, be it up 2 or be it up 3 or more is for you to discover. Your End Plan allows you to identify the ‘particular strategy’, that is most suitable at that time. In a relatively close game this will come from the ‘range’ of strategies built in to your Game Plan.



So what is the best way to decide on an End Plan? Well, there are a few steps you need to review. First you MUST evaluate the scoreboard, understanding the scoreboard will set the tone for the end plan and in some cases even decided the game plan. Second, you need to revisit the key moderators and thirdly you need to consider the momentum of the game. If you can continue the momentum you can take a team out of there game and on the other hand if you can break a team’s momentum you can kill not only an end for them but often a whole game.

As stated the Scoreboard is obviously the dominant factor to consider when deciding on a particular End Plan. In those cases when you do not consider a ‘sustainable lead’ to exist, you will need to consider other factors. The realities of the playing conditions and/or your opponent will often play a role in your decision. These factors will sometimes suggest the more aggressive option, and other times will suggest the safer one. With that momentum is a huge contributing factor. By definition, Momentum is the ‘positive flow’ that results from an edge in performance, or from a favorable break. So in curling if it’s on your side considers the more aggressive option; if it’s on their side consider the safer one. In other words; USE COMMON SENSE!

The scoreboard plays the major role throughout the game but generally it should be your only consideration once the games reaches stage 4 and 5. Teams that are serious about winning plan in advance for ALL potential scoreboard situations.

Does your team?


So in our next article we will be dealing with Shot Selection – however before we go there and in relation we need to review the “GREAT DEBATE” in curling.

In the 8th end of a theoretical tied game which can include 1 point behind with or 1 point ahead without; what does your TEAM typically prefer?

Have you discussed it with your team? Have you come to a consensus of what the TEAM likes? Better yet do you know why? Does the why play to your teams strengths?

Ask your TEAM these questions; I think you may be surprised.

Oh and by the way, here is a hint regarding down one with or up one with out – there is NO right answer!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Paisley pupils get sports therapy

by Jeff Holmes, Paisley Daily Express



EXCITED schoolkids welcomed a top sportswoman to their school – and even Elvis Presley popped in to hear her speak.

Aileen Neilson, a champion wheelchair curler, was at Bushes Primary, in Paisley, to talk to kids about her sport – and she left a lasting impression.

More than 100 pupils heard Aileen chat about her training, conditioning and what it takes to become a champion competitor.

And Elvis impersonator Ben Doyle dropped by to hear Aileen’s talk and also chat to kids about the king of rock.
A spokeswoman for Bushes Primary told the Paisley Daily Express: “It was a fantastic visit and you could have heard a pin drop when Aileen was speaking.

“She had them hanging on her every word.

“Aileen brought along a slide presentation to illustrate her talk. It taught our pupils all about curling and then the kids were allowed to take part in a special indoor game of the growing sport.

“It was fantastic because the curling stones had special wheels on them to help them roll along the wooden gym floor.

“It was very inspiring to hear Aileen talk about her career to date – and what she hopes to achieve in the future.”

Through hard work and dedication, Aileen gained selection to the Great Britain team for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.

It was during these Games that she became the first female to skip a curling team in either the Paralympics or World Championships.

Aileen, from Strathaven, Lanarkshire, first watched curling at Braehead Arena, in Renfrew, back in 2004 and joined their wheelchair curling club soon after.

She was present at the World Championships which took place at Braehead the following year and was inspired by what she saw.

Aileen said: “The Scottish team that year was fantastic – I was smitten.

“I watched them retain their gold medal and decided there and then that I would far rather be taking part than sitting watching.”

Aileen was true to her word and quickly developed into one of the best players in Scotland.
She was selected for the 2007 Scottish side that competed in the World Championships in Sweden and gained a well-deserved bronze medal.

And she has continued that meteoric rise to the top ever since – with pupils at Bushes Primary the latest to benefit from Aileen’s incredible passion for curling.

She said: “The kids were fantastic and seemed genuinely interested in what was going on.
“Who knows, we could have been sitting in the presence of some stars of the future.”

Bushes Primary was All Shook Up when Elvis impersonator Ben Doyle popped in too.

The spokeswoman for the school added: “It was a big thrill to have ‘Elvis’ at the school.

“Ben has been impersonating Mr Presley for some years now and the pupils just loved his act.

“He is one of our lollipop men and the kids never tire of seeing his brilliant impersonations.”

Article 1 – Part 3 - Strategy & Tactics


PART 3
As discussed, there are 5 basic stages to properly staging an 8 end game. Stage 1 occurs in end 1-2 and as we move though the ends 3-4 and so on, so do the stages.
So how do we relate these to our 3 types of game plans, Defense, Offense and Blended attack? To make is a little simpler I have created a table which may help you understand it.



DEFENCE FIRST

Stage
Scoreboard Target
Without Last Rock
With Last Rock
Stage 1
(Ends 1-2)
Avoid Opposition
Control Game
Protect
or
Probe (-)
Probe (-)
Or
Probe (+)
Stage 2
(Ends 3-4)
Gain at least
Potential Control
Protect
or
Probe (-)
Probe (+)
Or
Probe (-)
Stage 3
(Ends 4-5)
Gain at Least
Limited Control
Probe (-)
or
Protect
Probe (+)
Or
Probe (-)
Stage 4
(Ends 6-7)
Maintain Control
Position for Stage 5
Protect
TO
Probe (+)
Probe (+)
TO
Pursue
Stage 5
(End 8)

Win the Game!
Protect
TO
Pursue
Protect
TO
Pursue


OFFENCE FIRST

Stage
Scoreboard Target
Without Last Rock
With Last Rock
Stage 1
(Ends 1-2)
Push to Gain
Limited Control
 Probe(-)
or
Probe (+)
Pursue
Or
Probe (+)
Stage 2
(Ends 3-4)
Push to Gain
Definite Control
Probe (+)
or
Probe (-)
Pursue
Or
Probe (+)
Stage 3
(Ends 4-5)
Gain/Maintain
Definite Control
Probe (+)
or
Probe (-)
Pursue
Or
Probe (+)
Stage 4
(Ends 6-7)
Maintain Control
Position for Stage 5
Protect
TO
Probe (+)
Probe (-)
TO
Pursue
Stage 5
(End 8)

Win the Game!
Protect
TO
Pursue
Protect
TO
Pursue



Balanced/Blended

Stage
Scoreboard Target
Without Last Rock
With Last Rock
Stage 1
(Ends 1-2)
Gain at least
Potential Control
Probe (-)
or
Probe (+)
Probe (+)
Or
Pursue
Stage 2
(Ends 3-4)
Gain at least
Limited  Control
Probe (-)
or
Probe (+)
Probe (+)
Or
Pursue
Stage 3
(Ends 4-5)
Move Toward
Definite Control
Probe (-)
or
Probe (+)
Probe (+)
Or
Pursue
Stage 4
(Ends 6-7)
Maintain Control
Position for Stage 5
Protect
TO
Probe (+)
Probe (-)
TO
Pursue
Stage 5
(End 8)

Win the Game!
Protect
TO
Pursue
Protect
TO
Pursue


Now that we have the basic understanding of what we need to do we need to remember 2 key moderators to any game plan; Playing conditions and the Opponent. I mean these are simple right?

You MUST consider the quality and consistency of the ice and for that matter the rocks. If you don’t and don’t know how to adjust the plan to these conditions then maybe you should just go home. Not trying to be mean but if your team can not adjust to heavy ice or quick ice, swingy or straight then real there is not much hope for a win that game.

The other MAJOR component which is truer in wheelchair curling than able-bodied curling understands the opponent. Not only understanding what they can or cannot do on the ice or during the game but also to understand the disability that each player has. Each type of disability and player is going to be able to do thing the other may not. I mean tolerance to cold, spasms, ever the difference between a para and a quad can give you the advantage over the other team. You must consider their performance and capabilities along with their strategic preferences.  In the early days of Wheelchair curling most women (no offence) played lead and could not throw take out weight. So strategy was simple and direct has to how to take that to your advantage. Today the grounds have leveled out and we must look closer at what a player can or cannot do. We saw examples or this at Nationals. I was surprised to see many teams not take advantage of some player’s inability to throw certain types of turns. In most games teams would though 1 turn way more than another and the stats showed this. 80% of the time an IN turn was selected over and over again. Why did teams not pick up on this and make IN turn preference teams throw the other turn?

Also;  in those players who are Quads; their disability often determines what type of turn they can throw often with those players being only able to throw that turn. Again; we saw this at nationals and few teams picked up on it. In one game, if the team playing had forced the lead to throw the other turn and the same for the skip then that team would have won ease. We need to look at the big picture and that requires research.

So we need to ask; How would you modify your ‘typical’ Game Plan, if at all, when faced with each of the following realities: Poor Playing Conditions, Good Playing Conditions,   a Stronger Opponent, a Weaker Opponent? 

This ends article 1 and in the next series we move on to strategy and tactics part 2. We will get much more specific regarding strategy including some scenarios. Please leave us a comment on what you thought of parts 1-3.