Australia and New Zealand team up for Stepping Stones development

  • Photo: © NZCA / Jo Dowling

The World Curling Federation’s most recently introduced development programme – Stepping Stones – has made its second stop in Naseby, New Zealand.

The New Zealand Curling Association and Australian Curling Federation teamed-up to deliver the programme to its junior, men’s, mixed doubles and women’s teams - 45 athletes and nine coaches. This follows the successful delivery of the programme to the Estonian Curling Association in August 2016.

The Stepping Stones programme is for Member Associations’ international athletes and introduces them to tools that will help them with performance and mental analysis. The course also goes into detail about how best to plan out the season so that the athletes can aim to reach their peaks at the right moments.

Matt Millikin from the Australian junior men’s team found Stepping Stones an extremely valuable exercise. He said: “Stepping Stones provided such a wonderful opportunity to be given the tools to move to the next level individually and with our team.

“The insight, information and ability of the coaches provided was incredible. As part of an Australian team, we don’t have the facilities to be on the ice regularly and this camp was such a good way to find out how our team can find success.

“Personally, I benefitted immensely from being in an environment where every person is focussed and determined all working towards a common goal. All in all, the experience was one that I will be benefitting from for many years to come.”

Ian Pallangio, a member of the Australian men’s team and who has represented his country 22 times found the camp beneficial too. He said: “Being a high performance training camp, the programme was extremely valuable to our team for a number of reasons. The key outcome for our team was a more deliberate focus on the plan and activities leading up to, and during important competitions.

“As a team of five, but who live in three different cities, it was a precious opportunity to get together as a team to mature our on-ice and off-ice preparation. Even though we are an experienced team who have played together for a number of years, the programme provided time and space, facilitated by very knowledgeable coaches, to focus on many aspects of our team that we don’t always have the skill, or opportunity, to work through. [This ranged] from tweaking our technical deliveries, how to leverage video analysis better, team dynamics and mental toughness exercises.”

Stepping Stones is delivered by World Curling Federation Competitions and Development Officer, Scott Arnold, as well as sport planning specialist and mental training coach Ken Bagnell and high performance athlete Julie McMullin.

The World Curling Federation facilitates the growth and development of curling worldwide. It works closely with and mentors established, new and prospective Member Associations and employs a team of Competitions and Development Officers (CDOs) to run quality programmes, camps, courses and produce resources to aid the growth of the sport.

You can also look back at the Stepping Stones programme on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and by searching the hashtags: #wcfssp #curling