Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fit to curl

One of the biggest changes I've seen on the competitive curling scene in the years I've been covering the sport has been the emphasis on general fitness. This is certainly one of the key factors which underpin the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Performance Pathway. From Regional Academy, through the National Academy squad, to the Scottish Institute supported teams and Team GB, physical fitness is emphasized. David Murdoch talked about it in his interview on Radio 5 Live last night, listen here.

Curlers in other countries are picking up on the importance of fitness. Canadian John Morris, who plays third stones for Kevin Martin, has written Fit to Curl: A Sport-Specific Guide to Training for the World’s Greatest Game.

Morris, who won back-to-back Canadian championships and the World title in 2008, said, “I’ve seen the game evolve - the old stereotypes about curlers just aren’t true anymore. If you look at the top players, nearly all of them are very fit athletes with Olympic aspirations who devote a great deal of time to physical conditioning.”

But elite-level curlers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the sport-specific training offered in this book. “The book is written so that curlers of all levels can follow a program that suits them,” added Morris. “Even the recreational player who curls once or twice a week and competes in a couple of bonspiels will enjoy the game more by working out just a few hours a week. They’ll be able to contribute more when they compete and feel better about their overall level of fitness.”

The book has color photographs of many of the world’s top curlers taken by Anil Mungal, Dallas Bittle and Jim Henderson. It details the physical demands of the sport and offers three levels of training programs with calendars to make it easy for people to incorporate a fitness routine into their life. Even the typical curler who juggles family, career and the sport can find time for the workouts as many can be completed in less than an hour.

Morris, whose teams won world junior titles in 1998 and 1999, says, “Whether you’re delivering a stone or sweeping from end to end, curling places unique demands on the body. It only makes sense to follow a training program that will help you feel fresh and perform better on the ice.”

Morris has written the book with Dean Gemmell, who produces The Curling Show podcasts (

Fit to Curl is available for purchase at Easy to do with PayPal, cost is just under $30 including shipping to the UK. One dollar from the sale of every book in Canada will go to the Canadian Curling Association to support junior curling programs throughout the country.