Harrows Darts.

Quietening the mind
One tip ive picked up over the years, whether it be a golf swing, throwing basketball hoops, kicking a footy, darts etc. is once your happy with stance, grips, etc is to hold a mental thought or say a word to yourself (the same one everytime), as you throw/swing.

I have found this not only helps with muscle memory and therefore consistancy, but also helps stop stray thoughts from entering the mind at crucial times, and " quietens the mind".

For example when drawing back and releasing the dart say something in your head to yourself every time like "nice n easy", thinking this stops a stray thought from entering like "I wonder whose watching" or "damn I need this double now".

It also helps me focus on a pin point or a board inconsistancy rather than say the whole triple/double area. Ive found that even if my eyes dont move, my mind will scan the whole triple area and I miss, by holding a thought image or words, my mind stays more focused on a tiny area of the triple and my mind is far less "scattered".

Does anybody else do this?
Sounds like a great tip and I think its good advice, +1 for that Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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Not much talk here on the Mental part of the game but it's a vital part to Master.

I do throw better when my thoughts are simple. Great advice.

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For me, that works in practice. At game time, not so much. The number of things that can be swirling around in your head are legion. If I say "nice and easy" I will be three inches below and to the side of the target.

Using words is just too strong a distraction. When I do choose to use words for internal coaching, they are for recovery purposes only. They distract from the distraction -- it's an industrial strength fix. I mean, I have totally blown a shot or the dart is sitting sideways in the board, I'll stop and think a bit, then readdress the board. If I have blown several in a row, then I'm just out of control. Using words might help then, though the result is not immediate. That's why I say it works in practice, and not so well in competition.

Look at it this way: No one hammers a nail saying "nice and easy", or "There! There! There!". Success happens when you stay calm, focus your attention on hitting the nail on the head and do it the same way you've done it countless times before.

So what works when you've got thoughts swirling in your head?

What has worked to counteract growing tension is opening my jaw a bit... watch Adrian Lewis. His jaw does the opposite of clenching(Hankey). He does not purse the lips (Bunting). Opening/relaxing the jaw helps the body relax, which helps clear the mind.

Ultimately though, this can only mitigate minor insecurities. There is no substitute for confidence -- that is what ultimately works.

If you're not confident, forget it. Confidence comes from practice. If all you do is play by yourself at home, then you may have trouble playing outside.... playing outside is practice for competing.

Please realize that competition is necessary for learning. It's not a pass/fail test of your skill -- you can win and throw poorly. Winning in itself tells you little. It is up to you to mind the pressure. How you do that tells you more. DO NOT yell at yourself to throw better. There is enough pressure in competition by itself. Tell yourself to forget instead, and move on.

The ideal darts player ( or any athlete ) has a very big ego and a very short memory. They are confident in their ability to perform and forget all failures -- including recent ones, like the last lousy shot. ( I have been studying Ted Hankey.... he's too hard on himself. He does not forget. He makes each shot a test.... that is a recipe for failure....)

So, my advice is to quiet the mind is to realize that what has passed cannot be fixed. Dwelling on the last 26, and how you now need to be a hero to pick up your average is not going to turn you into a hero. If it did, darts would be easy. Placing tough demands on your throw is a recipe for performance anxiety and an even worse result.

Try to be realistic with your expectations. Nothing is worse than berating yourself for not throwing a ton every turn when you don't even do that in practice. Try to forget about the last shot (or even the last dart!) and put the next dart in the board where you want it to go.

Your ability to stroke into the desired spot on the board should be established at practice time. The only thing that competition ought to bring is pressure. There are no technique issues to think about. There is only the stroke you've ingrained at practice time.

Take some courage and just do what you know you have done.
Very interesting advice Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images. +1
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I am enjoying this thread. I find it easy to have a clear mind free of distracting thoughts (unless I am trying to get to sleep). It must be a personal talent I have. Emptymindedness is a natural state for me.

I think BigE makes some good points and really liked his analysis of the pros mouths. I always thought A Lewis was trying to catch flies. That might work, but I am going to try not doing that just in the realistically impossible chance I ever play on TV. I do disagree with his assessment of a mantra being more distracting than helpful. I see how it could be, but not after it becomes grooved and natural. You develop a swing. It is a consistent groove that is right and your brain recognizes as right. I think a mantra could be useful to develop consistency of the mind. I liked BigE's analysis of Hankey. Whether accurate to Hankey or not, I don't know. But the idea is reasonable. Each shot is a test? You have to feel your groove. You can't think it. If you do, your brain subconsciously tries to make subtle corrections that disrupt the groove and darts go askew.

I will try this. I liked Goodspears analogies to different disciplines. I am a believer that even cross experience is informative. Everything is applicable to everything else at least in some small way and is often insightful in ways that others can't be. I have had brief moments of real confidence. My throw became grooved. I am having trouble remembering at the moment, but I do remember knowing that if I missed it wasn't going to be by much. A few tosses and I could take out anything. I want that all the time. If I train my brain in consistency, it could be possible that my arm will follow in suit?
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Thunk, thunk, thunk, walk, chalk, pull, turn, walk, turn, repeat...

Great thread and great info guys!!

I am a victim of overthinking things and adding unneeded pressure to myself. I always feel that I should be throwing my best but with the very limited time I get to play I know it's not possible. Even though I understand this it still sits on my mind while I'm playing.

I have a very hectic and busy life with working crazy amounts at times out of town and then while I'm at home I have my family life with my wife and kids. I spend so much time away from home that when I get back I feel guilty if I take time to play darts or anything for that matter that takes away from spending quality time with my family. It doesn't leave much time for darts.

I will work on some of the techniques in this thread. I'm an overthinking normally so it would be very hard to completely clear my mind but I do like the idea of using a simple phrase to try and calm myself and stay focused on the task at hand.
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I am finding that if I focus on a consistent throw ( in practice anyway ), I can practice longer, with less fatigue. If I focus on hammering each target, my arm gets jerky and while I might hit them a bit faster, I and my arm get quickly fatigued.

I was thinking about this thread while doing a round of A3.... Just ensuring each stroke was smooth, but not necessarily hitting. I leapt ahead faster than ever. However, once I started to get distracted (Thinking too much about mimicking Hankey) things went south.

It took a while to start to hit consistently again.

Focus is hard to turn on once you turn it off....
I try to use the trigger word as mush as possible when I step up to the oche. I use this to remind myself to be clam, relaxed, confident and have a smooth throw. It only needs to be 1-2 words, but when used over and over that simple 1-2 words can evoke a number of reminders. It is not coaching or berating (as that can be detrimental), it is merely a mental reminder and trigger that focuses the mind and relaxes the body as I set up ready to throw.
I do this in practice as well so that when it comes to matches it is natural to do and evokes the same behaviour as in practice. You rmatch play should be the same as your practice play as much as possible with the added pressure
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I think Dartbuggy and elusive double are getting what im getting at.
so heres another way of putting it. Take a cricket batsman, he has no time to think his shot he hits the ball or he gets bowled, its happening so fast, same with a basketball player dribbling down the court under pressure, no time to think, he just shoots the basket, but now give that basketball player a free throw and its completely different, he has time to think and time for stray thoughts to enter. Darts/golf/archery etc is like the free throw, where theres time to think to much.

Heres another one, if someone was to say 'whatever you do dont think about a pink elephant when you shoot' and was to keep saying it as you walk up and take your shot,guaranteed your going to think of a pink elephant. What im getting at is having your own trigger words or thought image will stop these nonsensical thoughts and will be a part of your focus. Its simply using a thought to block out other thoughts or noises and after a bit of practise it becomes exactly what elusive double 85 said.
I should also point out im not necessarily saying everyone should do it, its just something ive heard and read about over the years and its something im trying at the moment to apply to darts. It is certainly not easy to remember to do it all the time and I was more just wondering if many others out there do this kind of thing. Im sure the pros must have some mental technique tricks up there sleeves.

Im using the image of a mosquito in the middle of my triple/double or whatever target area, to aim at as its a tiny pin point image, along with the word " mosquito" spoken in my mind as I draw back and then release, to stop thoughts/doubts entering.
Maybe it will work, maybe it wont.
For me, mental control is impossible if I have had even a single cocktail. Focus just vanishes.
A friend thought me the same principle - but using color. To me I chose PINK. It's like self hypnosis or mental programming that signals me to stay calm and focused.
This is a very interesting thread to me because this is be part of the game that gives me the most trouble. It's impossible for me to step up to that oche (sober anyway) and not have a hundred thoughts about my throw, surroundings, etc go through my head. I have a real problem with self confidence when it comes to sports and always have. I've always been one of the more gifted athletes around but when I'm given the situation to stop and think about what I'm doing instead of just doing it without thinking, I fail more often than not. I've tried so many things and nothing seems to help. I've even tried self hypnosis for confidence boosting for sports. Unfortunately for me, the only thing that stops me from overthinking every darting situation is alcohol. Don't get me wrong, I like to drink a bit, but I really would like to be able to throw the quality of darts I do with a few drinks in me, when I'm spending hours at home sober and practicing. Hopefully I can find something else that helps and soon!
I just ordered a book, about how to find "the zone". I'll post if it is any good.

Have you done Flight School?

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