Harrows Darts.

5 Principles of a Strong Mental Game
Was cleaning up some old Hockey paraphernalia and came across this, thought I could put my spin on it for darts:

Your technical abilities are important aspects of your performance, but skill alone is not sufficient for consistent success at an elite level, where all competitors are highly skilled technically. When athletes are closely matched on other aspects of performance, the mental aspect in my opinion plays the most important role in determining success. To reach your goals and perform at your full potential, you must have a strong mental game.

A strong mental game is built on five overarching principles. Everything related to the mental game either affects one or more of the principles or is a by-product of one or more of them. 5 Principles of a Strong Mental Game are:

1. Take responsibility for your performance
2. Control your emotions
3. Control your thinking
4. Focus on the present
5. Commit yourself to constant learning

Principle 1 – Take responsibility for your performance

Athletes can identify many factors that affect their performance. Dart players point to such things as not enough practice, lighting, noise levels, their equipment, condition of the board and other dart players. It is true that all of these factors and more affect your performance. Nevertheless, you are the one who throws the dart, and you must take responsibility for this. Honesty and careful balance is needed because sometimes the problem really is some factor other than you – but, ultimately, it is your job to figure that out and determine how to respond appropriately. There is no way around this if you want to succeed. Although some mental game techniques can help you strengthen this principle, you primarily just have to recognize and accept that you must take responsibility for your performance. It is in your best interest to do this sooner rather than later because until you quit making excuses for your performance, you will never be able to fully control your performance.

Principle 2 – Control your emotions

It is very important to understand that emotions are not bad. Because you are human and because you are passionate about darts, you will have emotional responses to what happens on the competitive field. You will feel elated when you throw great darts, hit 180's, take out large numbers etc. You will feel disappointed, and maybe even angry, when you miss doubles, score poorly etc. That you have emotions is not the issue – what you do with your emotions is the issue. You cannot let your emotions negatively affect your performance, and you cannot keep dragging them with you from shot to shot. A wide variety of techniques, including many different relaxation methods, can help you gain control of your emotions. The key is to learn a range of techniques, try them for yourself to find ones that work for you, and then use them.

Principle 3 – Control your thinking

Thoughts, just like emotions, are not bad. You require problem-solving and decision-making under dynamic conditions. In darts, you must respond to whatever conditions and situations you encounter as you play through different boards, establishments and venues. Thinking effectively is a critical part of elite-level performance, and what you think about is very important. Your mind will be active while you are competing, and your thoughts must work for you rather than against you. Just as you can control your emotions, you can also control your thinking. In order to do so, however, you first must be aware of your thoughts. Once you have developed this awareness, you must then learn how to think effectively. You can use many techniques to control your thinking so that your thoughts become your allies rather than your enemies. Some of the better-known techniques include goal setting, self-talk, and imagery, but there are many others.

Principle 4 – Focus on the present

While you are competing, you must mentally stay in and focus on the present. You cannot keep thinking about other shots, games, tournaments or anything else in the past or future. The past and future are not to be forgotten or ignored, however. Indeed, you must learn from the past and know where you are headed in the future, but you must keep your focus on what is happening in the present shot. Depending upon what is happening to you both on and off the competitive field, it can sometimes be difficult to focus on the present – but you must do so if you want to be successful.

Principle 5 – Commit yourself to constant learning (This is where this amazing site - DNF comes into play!)

Each and every competitive experience, regardless of the results, is an opportunity to learn something – and it is especially important to learn from the experience when you do not get the results you expect. You probably already engage in some form of learning while your playing – perhaps without really thinking about it – but intentional and effective learning is needed for optimal performance. Committing yourself to constant learning requires all of the other four principles: in order to learn from your experiences, you have to take responsibility for your performance, control your emotions, control your thinking, and focus on the present. It is also a circular process: in addition to being better able to analyze and respond to your competitive situation, constant and active learning will help you to take responsibility for your performance, control your emotions, control your thinking, and focus on the present.
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Medicine Hat Darts League---------------------------------                 Darts Used: 22g One80 R2 Renegade's
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Good information
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Great post Leaky and thanks. Spot on +1
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Great post. I'm all for principle #5. I'm always open to learning new tricks that will help me improve my game. Just a couple months ago i was having a discussion with a friend about the best option for taking out 67. I've always been a "go 17's" guy. But after talking with my friend and discussing things we decided 9's was a much safer option. I had no issue's with changing how I play if I think it will improve my game. No ego got in the way, no stubbornness. Just the desire to be a better player. I always welcome any new information and I'm eager to learn new tricks. Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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Great contribution. Good reading for Novice & long timer alike.

One of my downfalls is the emotional side of it... Cursing, huffing & Puffing, tantrums... I was bad in the past. I've been called out on it before, taken to one side. I've developed a much better control of my emotions now... but some times it creeps back in, it did so this evening when throwing Sloppy Darts and nearly losing against some one I should not be losing to. I start Slapping my Thigh, the head drops, Tutting & Shaking my Head still whining to my self about the last throw while stepping up to the Oche for the next, cursing at the Oche. It isn't a good look.
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(08-26-2015, 11:59 PM)ReggaeDarts Wrote: Great contribution. Good reading for Novice & long timer alike.

One of my downfalls is the emotional side of it... Cursing, huffing & Puffing, tantrums... I was bad in the past. I've been called out on it before, taken to one side. I've developed a much better control of my emotions now... but some times it creeps back in, it did so this evening when throwing Sloppy Darts and nearly losing against some one I should not be losing to. I start Slapping my Thigh, the head drops, Tutting & Shaking my Head still whining to my self about the last throw while stepping up to the Oche for the next, cursing at the Oche. It isn't a good look.

I am curious what you did that helped you gain better control over your emotions. I have a player on my team that has a similar problem and i am really struggling to help him. He has potential but he needs to learn to put it in check. Not only does it not help you for your next shot it also shows your opponent and can give them more confidence for their throw. So how did you overcome it?
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excellent stuff Leaky Boots +1 from the Nuckster Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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Excellent!
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Great post, some great advice there that I will have to have a look at if I am to carry on playing +1 Leaky
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Member previously known as Daveheald

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nice post! +1

Good advice!
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(08-27-2015, 12:04 AM)Lurker1 Wrote:
(08-26-2015, 11:59 PM)ReggaeDarts Wrote: Great contribution. Good reading for Novice & long timer alike.

One of my downfalls is the emotional side of it... Cursing, huffing & Puffing, tantrums... I was bad in the past. I've been called out on it before, taken to one side. I've developed a much better control of my emotions now... but some times it creeps back in, it did so this evening when throwing Sloppy Darts and nearly losing against some one I should not be losing to. I start Slapping my Thigh, the head drops, Tutting & Shaking my Head still whining to my self about the last throw while stepping up to the Oche for the next, cursing at the Oche. It isn't a good look.

I am curious what you did that helped you gain better control over your emotions. I have a player on my team that has a similar problem and i am really struggling to help him. He has potential but he needs to learn to put it in check. Not only does it not help you for your next shot it also shows your opponent and can give them more confidence for their throw. So how did you overcome it?

The Guiding factor was people having a quite word with me about it, to basically say... stop the tantrums you make yer self look a fool.

Also it's important to realise that we're not Pro's... we will always throw a Rubbish Dart or Two. Now it does all depend on the level of your friend. Now see, I'm not a bad player, I have a good technique, but I also Understand my mechanics - see, cos some people don't. they can't quite figure out why their Darts are going astray. Does your friend understand his Body Mechanics, does he understand the Primary importance of total relaxation in the Arm/Hand Muscles, does he understand the concept of Using only necessary finite Muscles in the Arm/Hand to throw Dart...?

I know that if I stay calm, and hence stay relaxed in my Arm, I will throw decent enough Darts, some times Quality Darts... I will always get the Cob-on with a Crap Dart, but the Key is to only show it in your Face as you walk to the Board to collect your Darts - not to let them see yer frustration... so by all means get frustrated to a point, but don't let them see it...AND, do not let that mental frustration transfer down to your Arm/Hand Muscles and tighten them up.

Have you told him he makes himself look like a Pillock when gets a Strop-on...? Tell him this. But the caveat is, does he Understand his Body Mechanics..?

Fundamentally, for me this what helped me over-come my Oche Tantrums... my ability to over-come it with my Mind to Body awareness... does this make sense...?
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(08-27-2015, 11:27 PM)ReggaeDarts Wrote:
(08-27-2015, 12:04 AM)Lurker1 Wrote:
(08-26-2015, 11:59 PM)ReggaeDarts Wrote: Great contribution. Good reading for Novice & long timer alike.

One of my downfalls is the emotional side of it... Cursing, huffing & Puffing, tantrums... I was bad in the past. I've been called out on it before, taken to one side. I've developed a much better control of my emotions now... but some times it creeps back in, it did so this evening when throwing Sloppy Darts and nearly losing against some one I should not be losing to. I start Slapping my Thigh, the head drops, Tutting & Shaking my Head still whining to my self about the last throw while stepping up to the Oche for the next, cursing at the Oche. It isn't a good look.

I am curious what you did that helped you gain better control over your emotions. I have a player on my team that has a similar problem and i am really struggling to help him. He has potential but he needs to learn to put it in check. Not only does it not help you for your next shot it also shows your opponent and can give them more confidence for their throw. So how did you overcome it?

The Guiding factor was people having a quite word with me about it, to basically say... stop the tantrums you make yer self look a fool.

Also it's important to realise that we're not Pro's... we will always throw a Rubbish Dart or Two. Now it does all depend on the level of your friend. Now see, I'm not a bad player, I have a good technique, but I also Understand my mechanics - see, cos some people don't. they can't quite figure out why their Darts are going astray. Does your friend understand his Body Mechanics, does he understand the Primary importance of total relaxation in the Arm/Hand Muscles, does he understand the concept of Using only necessary finite Muscles in the Arm/Hand to throw Dart...?

I know that if I stay calm, and hence stay relaxed in my Arm, I will throw decent enough Darts, some times Quality Darts... I will always get the Cob-on with a Crap Dart, but the Key is to only show it in your Face as you walk to the Board to collect your Darts - not to let them see yer frustration... so by all means get frustrated to a point, but don't let them see it...AND, do not let that mental frustration transfer down to your Arm/Hand Muscles and tighten them up.

Have you told him he makes himself look like a Pillock when gets a Strop-on...? Tell him this. But the caveat is, does he Understand his Body Mechanics..?

Fundamentally, for me this what helped me over-come my Oche Tantrums... my ability to over-come it with my Mind to Body awareness... does this make sense...?

He does understand the mechanics. Sometimes I think he lets the opponent pressure him though and then it sort of becomes a self fulfilling prohecy - he's under pressure - loses his mechanics - throws a bad shot - and breaks down -

Everyone on the team has told him he needs to quit looking like a dufus.

He hasn't been throwing long so hopefully time and confidence will help him work it out.
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(08-31-2015, 03:37 PM)Lurker1 Wrote: He does understand the mechanics. Sometimes I think he lets the opponent pressure him though and then it sort of becomes a self fulfilling prohecy - he's under pressure - loses his mechanics - throws a bad shot - and breaks down -

Everyone on the team has told him he needs to quit looking like a dufus.

He hasn't been throwing long so hopefully time and confidence will help him work it out.


This is it.... Newcomers always think they should be better than they are, I did; especially those have a natural ability to understand the mechanics of it before they can apply it on the Oche.
People extremely underestimate how Bloody Hard it is to throw a projectile at a target from what is, ultimately, a short distance... They underestimate the Hours needed to be put in on the Practice board, then they underestimate how Hard it is to take the Practice game on to the Competition Oche. And get the Raging Hump when their Darts are inconsistent as Hell.
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Darts is no different than any professional sport. The elite basically all have equal skill, it's the mental game that separate the best of the best.
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Medicine Hat Darts League---------------------------------                 Darts Used: 22g One80 R2 Renegade's
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It's mental from the start. That is an aspect that is totally overlooked. I recall one coach saying that technique is maybe 10% of the game. The rest is mental.... the sheer ability to put the dart in the hole. I've been beaten plenty of times by folks whose technique is terrible. They just happen to think they can do it!

Working on your technique means you need certain things -- you need a way to get feedback on your stroke, not your results. If you do not video yourself, you won't have it.

How you feel the throw is probably the worst way to learn. It has been shown that feelings ( internal cues ) do not work as well as external cues. You may think you've made a huge change, but often no change at all is the reality.....especially if your shots start feeling good right away. Generally, a change feels awkward, and stays awkward for quite a while. If it starts feeling good, it is probable that you've stopped doing it.

OTOH, seeing the change on video is conclusive.

Having said that.... if you work on your technique and become confident in it, it becomes the foundation of your mental game. You have a great stroke, you're confident in the results. You can stop watching/second guessing yourself and play!
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