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Slow play.

February 3rd, 2009

Now that we’re just past mid-season, I thought I’d mention something that all of us can work to prevent. Slow play.

Few  things are more discouraging than not being able to complete the full eight ends because the teams on the ice have exceeded the time allotted for the game. Whether you’re ahead or behind, it just feels wrong. It’s also frustrating if you’re waiting for two teams to finish a game so you can start yours.  

Barring unforeseen circumstances, we should be able to complete every game in the amount of time that is scheduled. So why do we see games that extend beyond it? How does it happen?

Well, we’ve all seen the skip who agonizes over every decision. I’m sure there are games when I’ve taken too long to make a call or spent a lot of time figuring out a complicated end. Some decisions are more difficult than others. But if you think your skip is taking a long time to make every call or there is team consultation on every shot, find a tactful way to tell him or her to speed up. I tend to go with something like, “C’mon, call  something already!” You might have something better. 

But skips aren’t always the culprits. Sometimes, the problem lies with the other players on the team being slow to get ready to deliver their own stones. When it’s your turn to throw, make sure you’re getting in the hack while the opposition stone is on its way to towards the other end. Clean your rock and be ready to go when things come to rest. If you’re playing front end, you probably have a good idea of the shot you’re going to be asked to make. It saves time if you think about making that shot before it’s even called. If every player on the ice gets things in motion just five or ten seconds quicker, you can be sure that there will be plenty of time to complete the game.

There’s also an ebb and flow to every curling game. At competitive events, there are clocks that give each team a certain amount of time to complete their shots. If there are a couple of ends that take a bit longer because they’re complicated, you’ll see front ends pick up the pace. So if you’re on the ice and you realize your team just took a long time to complete an end, make an extra effort to be quick in the next one. 

That said, there’s no need to rush. This is curling, after all, a game that demands patience and thinking. But when games move quickly, the sport is more fun to play.

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