It's time to dig deep and bury the misunderstanding that curlers aren't athletes. Even typing those words disgusts me right now. I've been a strength and conditioning coach for over 15 years and I've been fortunate enough to work with athletes of all sports and all levels from youth to Olympians. While they've all been amazing athletes each in their own way and at their own level, it's still the elite curlers who stand out. Maybe it's because they're in the gym more often than most other athletes and maybe it's because nobody else expected this level of physical greatness from them? Or, maybe it's their competitive nature and their commitment to excellence that stands out? Perhaps the best part is that I'm not the only one who notices this and literally every other individual that shares the gym with them and has seen them train has had to stop for a moment just to watch their work ethic, their dedication, their strength, their incredibly high anaerobic lactic capacity, and their fierce passion and desire to improve and achieve success!
The most evident example I see day in and day out is that of Team McEwen and of Dawn McEwen (of Team Jones, whom I should note ALL are amazing and work incredibly hard to be as successful as they are but it's Dawn that I work with on a continual basis). To be a part of the growth of Team McEwen in recent years and to see the impact strength and conditioning at an elite level has had on their performance, competitiveness, and confidence has been second to none. The gains made in a gym are not only physical but are so much more than that. On the surface, they improve the efficiency and effectiveness of sweeping, they allow for more pressure on the broom, faster sweeping, a better biomechanical position for sweeping with more weight on the broom, a more balanced and consistent delivery, stronger and more powerful leg drive out of the hack, and of course faster recovery between bouts of sweeping and between games. Behind all the muscle, athletes also gain a sense of preparedness which I would define as a feeling of confidence and knowing that you've done what you need to do to be the best athlete you can be, to be the best curler you can be, to be sure that you're more prepared than your opponent, and to know that at the end of the day that will give you a better chance to be successful. This feeling of accomplishment before you even step on the ice is an undeniable asset to performing with success.
Now, what about Dawn McEwen, as she prepares to lead her way through another World Championship beginning tomorrow along side the rest of Team Jones. First off, I need to point out that Dawn remains the longest running client I have ever worked with. She began training with me in 2007 when she joined Team Jennifer Jones, and, over 10 years later, she continues to break boundaries, set personal bests, become stronger, fitter, leaner, and more dominant in her sport. Dawn is nothing short of a phenom. She embraces strength and conditioning, she loves it, she looks forward to it, and in even in her silent way you can't help but feel the immense competitiveness inside her that drives her to be better , and better, and better. It's for this reason that Dawn is unstoppable! I encourage everyone to turn on some curling this weekend. Watch the World Championships for Women, or watch the Elite10 for Men and take note of some of the best athletes
who are scattered throughout these teams! Because these athletes are the future look of curling. The game has changed and it keeps changing.
Today I took some time to reflect on my last 11 years of curling strength and conditioning and it was amazing to realize that I've worked with over 130 different high performance curlers, some of whom were Juniors, some of whom are tour players, some in person, and some online across the country. But all of whom worked incredibly hard, loved to train, were amazing to work with and became better athletes. I've been lucky enough to run training sessions with teams like Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland and Team Muirhead of Scotland. In fact, I've had many many workouts with Eve Muirhead, skip of Team Scotland for the past 3 Olympic games and many World Championships, and she basically deserves a blog post of her own to express how hard she trains day in and day out! Working with Team Canada at the past several Olympic Games I've witnessed numerous curlers working out all around me in the athletes' village weight room. This past Olympics in Korea I couldn't keep up with Eve and her training regime (she certainly showed me up as I kept missing workouts and she did not). In 2014, Team Jacobs was the talk of the town in the athlete's village as they crushed the weights most days. It's all amazing to see, amazing to be in the center of and amazing to help try to grow the awareness and the appreciation for this sport and it's athletes. I look forward to where curling will continue to go. Stay tuned.
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