Darts - The mental side of the game
As a beginner, did you ever throw a dart off the board when trying to get that double to win the game? For the more experienced, have you ever thrown two perfect darts in the triple 20, only for the last one to hit a 1 or 5? Won the first leg but lost the next two to lose that match?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are not alone. It’s not the ability of the person throwing the dart, it’s the doubt, extra effort and seeds of doubt that runs through your mind that does the damage.
After many, many years playing this game I’ve found that it’s not just the skill of the dart player, it’s more the mental side of the game that matters most. In fact, I’d put it along the lines of 40% skill, 60% the mental side. Many people can throw a dart, hit a double or that all-important triple 20. Skill determines whether you can throw that dart and hit the target or at least get close to it. The mental side of the game determines whether you can do that consistently and more importantly in front of a crowd, on stage in a tournament or at least not back at home in the comfort of your garage. To hit that last dart without getting the yips or to hit that double to win the match.
A good friend of mine and I were in a tournament a while back. He was playing a very good player who was hitting 140’s followed by ton’s. I thought he had no chance, even though my friend is a very good player himself and has even played on stage in a televised tournament against Jelle Klaasen a few months after he played the 2016 world championships. Anyway, I said to him after he won weren’t you worried you would lose, that guy was shooting big scores with 140’s after 100’s etc. His answer to me was, “whatever he can get, I can get as well”.
His mind-set was clear of concern or fear that he would lose. He was confident in his own game and was looking only at his own game. Playing the board as many call it and he beat a very red hot darts player that day. I learned a lot from that moment that has since helped my game, especially when under pressure in a match.
Another very well-known player that has taught himself the mind control or ability to use mental skills to earn wins at the oche is darts legend, Phil Taylor. Love him or hate him, his mind games became legend on the pro circuit. But one thing stands out for me. When he was down in a match, he found a way to dig deep, focus more and on more times than not, it helped him to win the match. Some of his best wins came after being down 2, or even 3 or more legs. But he would use that same mind control and also put it into practise when winning or leading a match. He would add an extra focus to put the other player away, not relent and effectively turn the screws on his opponent. You could see the body language of his opponent’s slump as his would just take over.
Self-belief is also massive. MVG has it in spades. Hence why many suggest he will win multiple world titles in his career. Desire, focus and of course confidence goes a long way to winning games.
Next time you practise, remember it’s not just the skills you need to throw the dart, it’s the mental game that will turn your game from good to exceptional.
Good luck and good darting all.
Owner – Bullseye Darts