As the curling season gets underway with teams in action in Europe and Canada, Sport First caught up with British Curling’s new national coach, 2014 Olympic silver medallist Dave Murdoch.
Player to coach
A three-time Olympian with world and European titles to his name as a player, Dave Murdoch is no stranger to the rigours of curling at the highest level, but how is he adjusting to the switch from player to coach?
He said: “It’s obviously exciting to be going to your first Europeans as national coach but in some ways, it feels routine. I’ve attended so many Europeans as a player that I know the event very well, so I feel quite comfortable knowing what I’m going to, how the weeks tend to run. However, as a coach, you’re there in that overseeing role with both teams rather than just focusing on one, so from that point of view it is a little bit different.
“You also have very different conversations now with the people around you. Some of the things you’ve learned as an athlete you can take into your coaching, or something that you’ve probably taken from other coaches you find that you’re now applying it yourself. For me it’s a lot to do with relationships.
"If you develop strong relationships with all your staff you can make good things happen, and that’s where we want to go.
“Probably the most different part of it all is that our notational analyst, Kenny More, and I will be at every single draw which makes for a very long week."
In great shape
As a new Olympic cycle begins there are new-look teams and players returning from injury, but Dave is confident that they are shaping up well.
He said: “It’s looking good. In the men’s game Bruce Mouat’s team is a young team who had an incredible year finishing as world bronze medallists.
"They’ve started this year maybe not having the same incredible success they had on tour last year, but still playing very good curling. I think that’s the important part, it’s not always about winning every event, sometimes it’s about consistency and making those key shots.
"I think they’re in great shape. They’ve been training hard, recently had a good result in one of the grand slams and were very unlucky not to be in the final, so they are running well.
“There’s a bit more of a change with the women’s team as we’ve changed the line-up and Eve [Muirhead] is returning from major surgery so it’s been a different build-up for those guys.
"They are on the journey to developing their team, whereas the men have got a full season in so there’s a real contrast there with regards to where they are at, but I certainly like the progress they are making.
“It’s always difficult to come off the back of a four-year cycle. For Eve she’s been on several Olympic cycles now, and Vicki [Chalmers] as well, so you’ve got to understand that it’s OK to start a little bit slower and build up towards another four years. From that point of view, they’re in a good place."
Team behind the team
The sportscotland institute of sport runs an in-house coaching programme that supports curling through collaboration with experts from various institute disciplines including sport medicine and physiotherapy.
This 'team behind the team' structure has been key in the recent recovery from surgery of women's skip Eve Muirhead.
Dave said: “It’s obviously been quite a challenge for Eve, I know from having surgery myself it’s not easy to come back, it’s a constant daily struggle, but she’s had great support from the sportscotland institute of sport.
“Where all the sports that are part of the institute are really lucky is that we have some of the best people in the world working there.
"The programme that we have, the access to the staff, what they bring to our environment, and what we can tap into, is second to none."
“We’re extremely lucky in some ways, in a lot of sports, and certainly in our sport, countries just don’t have that support.
"They may have a little of we have access to, but we really can engage fully with all the support services. And for us, and especially for myself going forward, it’s about trying to tie in the integration of all that expertise and see where it can really help us make some gains. And if it’s just extremely minimal gains, then sometimes that’s all it needs to be, but the fact that we have access to, and can harness that level of support, is great for us.
“All in all, we’re in good shape and I’m certainly looking forward to an exciting season.”