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Monday, December 14, 2015

Screw You Charlie Brown - (aka Charlevoix)

So here we are at Christmas.
You will perhaps notice that I have not written a blog in over a month. It is not from lack of potential content!
Since my last blog – we have had:
  • More broomgate. With statements from Curling Canada and the WCF seemingly putting a wet blanket over the yelling and vitriolic that was being thrown around. (I got called a liar by a World Champion! Fun.)
  • Charlevoix: Screw you again Charlevoix. Played awful, had a crappy draw, and was done Friday night. Here is a pictorial representation of every year I play in Charlevoix: 

Image result for charlie brown and lucy football scene

Good Grief.(not sure if Charlevoix is Lucy, or the football, but I am definitely Charlie Brown in this example)
  • Gushue doing his best impression of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex's have really short arms, so I imagine when they fell they landed on their faces). And then he manages to return to finish the game with stitches (like some sort of demented Hansen brother)! It was awesome TV!
  • John Epping suddenly became the wizard of curling, winning a slam this weekend and once again looking like one of the top teams in the world (it had been a while).
  • Rachel Homan looks like she will win every single game she plays until the Olympics.
  • All kinds of great stories in Quebec curling to talk about – from the resurrection of Guy Hemmings, to Desjardins winning Baie d’Urfe while playing with 37 different brooms, to less teams signed-up for Women's Provincials then the Glenmore Day ladder.

All of this going on, and I could not manage a blog until now. All of this prime material just sitting there – and radio silence from this blogger. It was killing me.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog: Curler Burn-Out.

I am seriously burned out this year. My team played a semi-aggressive schedule this season: if memory serves it was 7 spiels together, and my guys played a couple more up in the Saguenay with a spare.
The idea, as is the case every year, is if we play more, we will play better. More spiels = More experience = more money = better shot at going to the Brier = We are Awesome! So we signed up for a lot of spiels. we filled every weekend we could. 

But here is the challenge. Life gets in the way of our best curling intentions. We have families. We have kids. We have girlfriends. We have jobs. We have wives with jobs. We have kids activities. We have travel for work. In short, we have LIFE!

The fact is, this year I have not had a quiet weekend or weekday since the summer. The choice to curl competitively while trying to manage the other stuff just felt harder this year than usual. Throw in a couple of personal issues here and there, and you have the recipe for CURLING burnout.
Here is what is looks like:
  • You feel like you are throwing the rock perfectly, yet you miss a lot.
  • You feel like you should win every game, but you don’t.
  • You lose to some teams you should never lose to.
  • You get angrier than you should.
  • You come home from spiels feeling more tired and more angry than when you left.

If you suffer from these symptoms, ask your doctor: Is Curling All the Time right for you?

I have a feeling that I was not alone on my team in suffering from this ailment. In Baie d’UrfĂ© I tried to cure us of this with one of the known cures for curling burnout: Tequila. I think it worked.

But I think the best thing for us will be some rest. I think watching the Slam teams every weekend on TV makes it worse. Because we know they are curling every weekend and practicing every day, the Tier 2 (or 3 or 4) teams like us feel like we need to curl our asses off to keep up.  We need to add more spiels. We need to always be out there.

But here is the rub; for most of us there is a law of diminishing returns on curling more. And I think we definitely hit the top of that curve this year. It seemed like the more we played, the worse we got.

The truth is that there is no way to keep up with the top teams in the country anymore while holding down a real job and taking care of a real family. Fortunately for the guys on tour today, there is now significantly more money and sponsorship on the table, so that being a full-time curler for at least part of the year is an option. I don’t remember having that choice when I was 25! It has made the great teams that much better. And it has widened the gulf with the rest of us. For sure I can still play against the top teams and – on a good day – even beat them. (In Gatineau, we went 4-3, along the way beating a couple of teams who list their careers as “Full-time Curler”) But to beat these guys consistently, you need to be out there every weekend. And you also need to be not burning yourself out the rest of the time!  

I think I have suffered from this before without being able to recognize it. I think it is not a coincidence that I usually do poorly in Charlevoix: it is at the tail end of a period where I am usually in shit at work, in shit with my wife and in shit with my kids (this one hurts a lot).

So my new motto heading into provincials this year is BALANCE.  A lot of practice. But not so much that it gets in the way of other things. I know this is not the recipe to get me to the Olympics or the top 10 on the CTRS, but maybe it can get me to a Brier...

6 comments:

  1. playing more events does not necessarily help -some of the top teams learned that the hard way last year. Check Rachael's schedule to see what they are doing this year. They do practice a lot but they are playing a very careful schedule. The balance between events and practice and family does need to planned.

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  2. Hi Mike - A fellow blogger here. I definitely agree with the comment above. When I conduct high performance camps for teams interested in making the leap over that ever widening gulf to which you very accurately refer, I caution them about playing too much, not to be confused with being in the ice (and off the ice dealing with team dynamics, mental skills etc.) in training session (both as a team and on one's own).
    I realize it's an entirely new generation of elite athletes in curling now but some things don't change. I often cite the example of Russ Howard's original team in Penetang before anyone outside that area even knew about Russ, Glenn, Tim & Kent. The team didn't play weekend-after-weekend like their contemporaries. Their yearly training plan was, wait for it, BALANCED. When provincials rolled around so many of their opponents had done just what you suggested. They had burned out, or as I sometimes say, they plateaued!
    Excellent blog Mike!
    - Bill Tschirhart

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  3. I think you hit the nail on the head. Or better yet, you correctly answered the question...Why do Canadian teams generally underperform at the worlds?

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  6. Hey Mike, how about some provincial predictions?? What are your thoughts on Mark Homan's try getting through Quebec??

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