In curling, what if you could come up with some way for sweepers to improve their sweeping techniques and efficiency by 1%? Would that be enough to help your team defeat even the best curlers in the world?
Possibly, if your own team was world class already.
And in that case, it might be well worth your while to examine this approach, currently under development in Scotland. [thanks to Brian Ferguson for the pointer].
The “Sweep Ergometer” … measures the force and velocity of each upstroke and downstroke, using sensors embedded in the head of the brush that relay information by wireless technology to a computer, where it is processed and analysed.
The information gathered then shows team members how they can work to improve their technique, by revealing whether they have been brushing too hard, not hard enough or too much in the one direction.
How has the idea of using the scientific method in curling been accepted? Reluctantly by some but enthusiastically by others.
Brett Marmo, a post doctoral research fellow at the Edinburgh University centre, said: “Some of the athletes were initially a bit reluctant to embrace the new technology. But having seen that it can give that 1 per cent edge needed to win over the best in the world soon convinced people of its merits.
Olympic champion Martin did have initial doubts, but she has now been persuaded of the device’s merits. She said: “We’ve had the ergometer, we’ve had cameras filming us, we’ve looked at fitness, psychology, nutrition, you name it, and notational analysis has been fantastic. “
As soon as we come off the ice, we can call up every shot. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are now without the scientists.”
But in Canada, where old-time arrogance seems to rule the day too often,
“Our biggest rivals, the Canadians, are highly sceptical.”
My guess is that the Canadian teams will not be sceptical for long if this new technique really does add a 1% advantage to the Scottish teams. After all, the lessons of sabremetrics are finally spreading throughout baseball because of the success of teams using them, and this success has led others to start looking more carefully at the new technologies.
Look for the same thing to happen in curling.