Homan gets an extra layer of coaching
BY JOE PAVIA, OTTAWA SUN Joe’s notes: At the end of this article are quotes from Adam that were too numerous to place in the article below. Adam Kingsbury, coach of Rachel Homan’s Ontario team, works with a computer as he monitors his team’s play during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont..(SEAN KILPATRICK/The Canadian Press) OTTAWA – Adam Kingsbury is living a new dream.
Kingsbury has watched curling since high school, but never has been in the thick of it until last summer. His background, though, gives him plenty of insight into competitive curling.
Kingsbury is the coach of Rachel Homan’s team, which is representing Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this week. He is a change agent, which suits Homan’s team.
”Some of the stuff we do work on goes above and beyond the simple mechanics or the simply analytics of techniques,” he said.
“One of the things I am trying to provide is a data-informed approach to practice and performance enhancement. I’m never prescriptive. My job isn’t to go in there and say you need to do this. My job is to instead say to the girls: ‘Here are some tendencies that we noticed. When we play these opponents, maybe the performance is here, however when we play this team, performance might dip a little bit.’ Or: ‘In later games we seem to start well and have a typical dip a little bit earlier, so what can we do about that?’ ”
Kingsbury, 33, is a resident at U of O in clinical psychology, where his research thrust is performance under pressure and how the body responds in a competitive environment. He has been a 13-year competitive amateur golfer before finding his new passion for curling. His wife Mila has a Ph.D. in psychology, and works in the Department of Medicine at the university. While at the Scotties, he is missing “the reason for existing,” his 18-month-old son Jude.
Some curlers have a pre-conceived idea of what a coach should do. Kingsbury puts it into perspective.
“If you think about someone as legendary as (former coach) Earle (Morris) and then even someone with as much curling knowledge and experience of the game like (former coach) Rich (Hart) or (another former coach) Marcel (Rocque), what value do you think I could add above and beyond those three individuals even if I was a competitive, experienced curler myself?
“The reality is amazing people have trained them. I feel like I can add an additional layer that allows them to access all of the stuff they have learned by playing the game all these years.”
Many people ask him why he doesn’t make the trek out to the ice during timeouts.
“The reality is that the work that we do would be about how to make better decisions in those moments anyway,” Kingsbury said. His work happens before the timeout. “Instead, what we talk about in those moments when you have one minute is how the four can come together and each offer your input and your perspectives and make sure all the options are considered and assess each other’s confidence and abilities in that moment to execute.
“It’s just like in golf where we say we would rather you make a confident swing towards a conservative target, than a shaky swing to an aggressive one.”
Kingsbury worked with the team, as well as other top-level curlers who are part of the national team program, for a couple of years. But last summer, Team Homan approached him about coaching the squad.
What impresses him about the rink? “I don’t even know where to begin,” Kingsbury said. “Skill level, athleticism, dedication to constant improvement. Even after the season they had last year, they still believe that can get better. I wake up each day and am happy just to be doing what I get to do.”
Howard Rajala’s team, which includes Rich Moffatt, Chris Fulton and Paul Madden, earned the Ontario men’s senior championship on the weekend … Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair skipped her U.S. rink to that country’s national women’s title.
On why he doesn’t go out at time out periods: “There is often this mindset that there is only one right shot to play when you watch on TV. But the reality is that when you as an individual on the ice playing you have much more info not only first hand because your experiencing it but you also have an understanding of your confidence level, your tendencies throughout the week, you also have rock info, maybe you have a mismatched set, so having additional person out there saying why not do this isn’t necessarily going to add much value. “
On how little time there is between draws: “It’s unbelievable how chaotic this environment is. It’s just very busy is all.”
Leave for rink at 1.
Game at 2:30
Off ice at 5:15
45 min of media requests for girls
Rushed for food and have a quick snack
Then 15 minute meeting about the game
Just before 7 stretching then meet the junior stars
Practice and then game
10:30 off ice
40 minutes of media then finished at 12:30 with a meeting about the day.
“There just aren’t any spare moments.”
On his job: “To put it in perspective I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I love the game so much. It’s such a treat for me to be out there. The opportunity to wake up and get to use the skills that I’ve learned with my research and my own experience and be a part of this game I’m not taking that for granted.”
On the Team Homan autograph session: “The line up didn’t stop for the entire hour. I actually sat down and had a beer and took the whole thing in.”
On practice: “Part of being on the ice is obviously to provide an eye if needed but the reality is they are so good. Rather than using our emotions to inform our decisions making this whole season has been about being very systematic in making sure whatever we are doing has a very well thought out reason behind it. So if it comes to strategy, if it comes to certain performance on certain turns they aren’t gong to be out there throwing rocks for the sake of throwing rocks.”
On sitting on the bench: “The reality is one of my jobs is for every single draw and every single sheet to look for changes. I have a rock book myself. We are logging everything. How many points are we giving up in the first half of the game versus the second half? How many stolen points have we taken, how many stolen points have we given up.
The girls themselves know how to play the game. The girls themselves know are we going tight and around. One of the things that is really important is to make sure they are talking. A long as they are out there constantly communicating those things that they know that are intuitive about the game aren’t going to be taken for ranted because you know they are talking about it.
On how good they are: “People see a version of that team that’s covered on TV but people don’t see how much work is put in behind the scenes. Playing through aches and pains, the sacrifices they put in. All four of them are on the same page. They want to win. The formula is in place and we just have to make sure it is followed.
Their dedication to this is impressive. I’m so proud on how hard those girls work.”
On curling: “The last two years have been spent being a full time student of curling. I now know that for the rest of my life I will be twiddling my thumbs waiting for the rinks to open.”
“If someone told me tomorrow that I could work the rest of my life in curling that would be great.”
“I wake up each day and am happy just to be doing what I get to do.”
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