New Brunswick’s Curling Centre of Excellence in Moncton is taking a sweep at becoming a national leader in training up-and-coming athletes through a new program aimed at improving fundamental sports skills.
Curl Moncton has launched a pilot program that takes their young curlers off the ice for some out-of-the-box physical training using a new “physical literacy program.”
“We are basically allowing kids to be more confident within themselves physically by running, jumping, catching, coordination, and agility and balance,” said Rick Perron of Curl Moncton.
Perron said they developed the program with the help of Michel Johnson, who is a professor of kinesiology at the Université de Moncton.
“We know now that children spend a large part of the day sitting, so some of those muscles that are made for moving are not quite as active anymore,” Johnson said.
To increase activity, the organization has taken curlers between the ages of six and 11 away from the ice for fundamental movement training. They run, jump, throw balls, and do balance training to develop their physical movement skills.
By developing those core fundamental movements while also working on perfecting their curling skills, Johnson said the kids will become strong athletes overall.
“If we understand how the children develop we have a much better chance of keeping them active and ultimately to have high level athletes even in small provinces.”
The physical literacy program, Johnson said, is similar to the ones used at more advanced training centres in European countries.
The goal he said is also to build confidence in children who may not see themselves as potential competitors.
“We know in particular that after the age of 11 or 12 that kids turns away from sports because they see themselves as not being competent and when you are not good at something it is very difficult to stay motivated,” Johnson said.
Perron added confidence can lead to longevity.
“If a child is more confident within themselves they are going to continue with some sport or some sports,” Perron said.
He said he hopes the new program will also help encourage more kids to try curling, which he said has seen declining interest across the country for the past 10 years.
“I think it will turn out more skilled people and more skilled athletes in general,” he said.
The New Brunswick Curling Association has applied for a $25,000 provincial grant to fund the program and hopes to eventually expand the physical literary program to 27 curling clubs across the province.