Picking a Broom
Picking a Pair of Shoes
A broom is one of the first purchases for many new curlers. And why not; the novice can sweep way better then deliver a stone. Even though they might not accomplish that mighty double take out every time, they can sweep their guts out, drag the rock and make a contribution to the team. Looking to purchase a broom actually is a two part decision, the type of handle and the type of head.
Picking a Head
First let’s talk about the head of the brush. Basically, there are two options: hair and synthetic. Keep in mind that the overwhelming consensus is that you can drag a rock further with a synthetic head.
Hair brushes have been around for a long time and are usually in a fixed stationary position. The main advantage of hair is for frosty ice conditions. The hair is able to clean around the pebble better. This is why you see competitive teams on arena ice utilizing the hair head in front of the synthetic. The same reason some skips will use hair because the house tends to frost up faster than the center runway because there is less traffic. Hair brushes also have less resistance and are easier to push.
What are the disadvantages of hair heads? They lose their hair. A frustrating but not uncommon situation for hair head users is where a perfectly thrown stone suddenly takes a wrong turn as a result of a “pick”. After turning over the stone, you find a piece of horsehair on the running surface.
Synthetic heads are made from treated nylon cordura. This product has remained unchanged for years and is used by approximately 80% of everyday curlers. Recently there have been modifications to the synthetic but the cost of those developments probably make them not worth considering for a novice curler.
One disadvantage of synthetic is that on frosty ice they will get “soggy” and become more difficult to push. Most clubs have good dehumidifier systems that minimize frost. The other problem with synthetic is that the surface area in contact with the ice wears out and loses its effectiveness. The most common question we get in the store is “how long should the head last”? The answer depends upon how much effort you put into the brush, and how fast you move the head. Generally if you play a couple of times a week you should replace your head every year. If you do not replace your head, all of your extra effort while sweeping will be wasted. The cost is definitely a lot less than what the average golfer spends on golf balls every season.
The final part of the brush is the handle. The older brooms were made with wood and were eventually replaced with fiberglass. Today fiberglass is slowly being replaced with carbon fiber. The cost of a carbon fiber handle has declined and in some cases can cost less than fiberglass. The handles come in various composites and a plethora of colors. That is 30/70, 50/50 fiberglass to carbon fiber ratio or 100% carbon fiber. Cost and weight is directly related to the amount of carbon fiber in the handle. The lighter the brush the easier it is to push it. If you spend 8 ends pushing a nylon head attached to a wooden base on a fixed wooden handle, and then you do the same with a new heat creating, synthetic, articulating head on a mind blowing multicolored carbon fiber handle, your shoulder muscles will scream thank you! Most importantly your skip will hug you off of your feet for dragging that, obviously hogged rock, right to the button.
Where to buy:
There are many online sellers of curling supplies. One thing to be aware of; if you are buying from a Canadian company the shipping will likely be expensive and slow. Below are probably the two companies our club members most commonly order equipment from.
Brooms Up Curling Supplies
America's Largest Curling Company with your entire favorite brands… Asham, BalancePlus, Goldline, Olson, Tournament, & Ultima. Brooms Up Curling Supplies is a family owned business representing most major Canadian manufacturers. Whether you are just starting out in the sport and need advice for the right curling shoe, or an advanced curler who needs to tune up for a competition, we carry virtually everything in stock. We do our very best to get products from our door in Connecticut to your door in 2-5 days.
(877) WeCurl-2 (877) 932-8752
Steve's Curling Supplies
Steve's Curling Supplies is in their 40th year in the curling supply business. Steve started out by ordering a few items for himself and other members of the Madison Curling Club, then expanded around the area, the state, the country, and now even abroad. No matter where you live, your skill level, or budget, they will take the time to guide you to the best choice for your needs based on their experience.
Whether you’re a beginner, or a seasoned competitive curler, curling shoes are an extremely important part of the game. The curling shoes you wear will have a huge impact on your delivery and ultimately on your success and enjoyment of the sport. Curling shoes are an investment in your game.
The decision can be a little overwhelming. There are at least six different suppliers of curling shoes who have three to five different models each. Let’s consider what to look for in a good shoe.
Let’s start at the top, or the uppers-the part you put your foot into. The first priority is comfort and fit. Every style of shoe fits differently. It is to your advantage to try on several different shoes to ensure the best comfort and fit.
Next is warmth. The game is played on ice and a pair of cold feet will result in a long couple of hours of kicking your feet together to keep the blood flowing. Curling shoes are insulated, one of the best and most comfortable insulators is Thinsulate. The material used to produce the shoe will also make a difference. We are great believers in leather uppers both for comfort and warmth.
Another critical function of an upper is durability. As mentioned before, curling shoes are an investment in your game, so you want the quality of the upper to reflect this. The slider or gripper may wear out, but these can be easily replaced, so take your time to investigate the quality of the shoe.
By our count, there are at least twenty-one various slider options, all of which can produce a different performance. By far the majority of sliders are made of Teflon.
The first consideration when choosing a slider is thickness. Sliders range from 1/32” to 1/4” thick. The thicker the slider the “faster” and the more slippery the shoe will be. A shoe with a 5/32” slider will result in more distance travelled than a 1/32” slider with the same amount of leg drive. This means that it takes less effort to deliver the rock the same distance resulting in less wear and tear and better control.
In the past a 3/32” slider was “average”, now it would be considered a starter slider for someone just taking up the sport .The advantage of a 3/32” slider for beginners is that, although you may find it a little tricky the first time you step on the ice, we have learned that it will make the game easier and more enjoyable for you in the long run. A 5/32” slider at one time was thought to be a fast slider; we now consider it basically average. There are coaches who insist that all of their players use a 5/32” slider minimum. We are finding more and more curlers are moving to either a 3/16” or even 1/4”.
Now we’ll look at the configuration of the slider. This is probably the most confusing part of your buying decision. Originally a piece of flat Teflon was attached to the bottom of the shoe and off we went. Then someone recognized that when we walk our weight is concentrated under the ball and heel of our feet, which is why the soles of our shoes tend to wear out in those two areas first. What this means for curlers is that the flat slider tends to “dish out” on these two spots resulting in a potential for rocking side to side. To solve this problem one manufacturer decided to indent a round portion of the slider right under the ball of the foot and also offered an option to do the same under the heel. Today there are shoes available with perimeter sliders and weight distribution system which address this issue in different ways.
Now, what about the other shoe? The drag or trailing shoe comes with a rubber gripper built into the sole. Some of these shoes tend to be “grippier” than others. The grippiness is achieved by utilizing a soft rubber which does tend to wear out. It is the same concept as summer and winter tires for your automobile.
Toe-coating is an option that can reduce some of the drag caused by the gripper foot on delivery. Some curlers find that this can result in a more efficient, straighter slide. Toe-coating can also reduce wear-and-tear on the toe of the shoe.
Anti-Slider (slip-on gripper)
Finally, you should have a slip-on gripper to cover your slider. Even if you slide when you sweep, the gripper will help to protect this expensive part of the shoe when you are walking around the rink. For those of us who walk and sweep, this slip on gripper goes on immediately after you have delivered your stones. This is a fairly inexpensive piece of equipment, and should be replaced when you see some wear on the bottom. Manufacturers try to balance the grip with durability.