I’m a golfer, I love to play, and teach the game, I’ve been obsessed with it since I was 13 years old. But this winter I was convinced to try something new. Curling!
This week, I had my first session of the Learn to Curl Program at the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club. I have always been reasonably athletic, never the fastest or strongest, but always very quick to learn and apply the skillsets of sports pretty well. As a junior playing tennis, I learned to hit all the shots; drop shots, a good and fast first serve, a nice curving second serve, solid forehands and backhands but I was too slow to advance up the chain into the higher levels. This was sort of a theme for my sporting development until I hit golf, where how fast you run really has nothing to do with your ability…. It’s a sport where skillfulness is king.
But now I’m trying curling and quickly realising there is nothing in my sports background that transfers well for curling technique. After playing tennis, racquet sports come to me quickly as the basics are essentially the same. There was no transference of skills happening in learning to slide and throw a rock. I am sort of useless at it… for now.
In that first session, I was both fascinated with being totally new and awful at something, and intimidated since nobody likes to feel like they are crap at something and have to show a room full of people how crap they really are. Luckily, since it was a Learn to Curl program, everyone else is crap too!
I was set in my mind that I wanted to improve, and that’s where the good stuff is in this post is contained. I was committed to getting into the state of a “Super Learner”. (If you want to look more into the idea of a super learner, I recommend this great article from a coaches perspective by Corey Lundberg & Matt Wilson – https://www.curiouscoaches.com/2016/04/25/coachability-traits-and-tactics-of-super-learning-students/ )
What I committed myself to:
I was determined to eventually learn to slide out and look similar to the demonstrations the instructors were giving me.
- Real learning takes time, and diligent practice. You shouldn’t expect to pick something up immediately.
I was totally accepting I was going to fall, that falling was KEY to improving, and if I wasn’t falling, I probably wasn’t pushing myself hard enough.
- I noticed halfway that I had been the only person to fall, but then I also looked around and saw people so intent on staying in balance, that they were barely even sliding out from the hack. If you are trying to learn a skill, you should embrace failure when you are trying new things, it might not turn out the best the first time, but with practice you will get better.
I was going to listen intently to my instructors, I know nothing about curling, the pros are the source of expertise in this relationship.
- I’m wasn’t going to tell my curling instructor that I need to work on my driver, …… The instructor tells me what I need to do to be better, not the other way around.
I was going to continuously seek out relevant feedback to what my instructor had me practicing.
- Practice does not become perfect, it becomes permanent, good feedback allows us to get as close to perfect as we can. The instructors gave me some verbal cues and methods to get feedback that would improve the technique faults they were seeing.
I was going to seek out time to practice on my own.
- After our first session curling, our head golf professional Dylan Welsh who is into his second year of curling (a seasoned veteran in my eyes), came out on the ice with me and we ended up just practicing for another two hours. Practice is essential to improving at anything. Make it fun and do it often.
Hopefully by now, you are starting to see how these apply to golf.
Here’s a competition, guess how many times I have fell so far, in 6 hours of practice. Leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers, and tell me a story about when you tried to learn something new as an adult. I’d love to hear some good stories!