Darts Buddy

Overcoming nerves on the oche: My take on it!
So me, like a lot of people suffer with a tendency to get nervous and tighten up during high pressure moments of a match. I found that I was tightening up to a point where I had no confidence at all that the dart was about to land where I intended it to and something had to be done.

As you will read in most places, the only way to overcome this is to embrace it, and learn how to play with the nerves;

Here's how I went about it:

I honestly believe that there is 2 massive stages involved in getting nervous on match night; Pre-match nerves & match nerves.

Match nerves (getting nervous at the point of throwing in the match) is the part we are all familiar with. It's the part we are most conscious about, and also the part that we actively try to fix in our game.

Pre-match nerves, simply put, is getting nervous about getting nervous. For the majority this is likely sub-conscious, you don't even realise it. You feel calm and relaxed, but sub-consciously, there is a massive wide open flood gate, inviting the nerves to come flooding in as soon as the match begins.
This, I found to be the most important part that needed changing. And it's the sun-conscious part about it that's the problem.

Think of your nerves as if it was like building a house. Your sub-conscious pre-match nerves are the foundations. As soon as they are laid, your mind has the means of building a big fat house of nerves as soon as the game begins. But what if the foundations weren't there? Your nerve house, wouldn't likely stand a chance in the long run. the impact would of vanished.

Before a game, if you actively trick your mind into wanting to get nervous during the game, you are no longer nervous about getting nervous. You are inviting them in, not trying to shut them out. The foundations for your nerves will not be there.
You can do this by outright lying to yourself, "I hope I get nervous during my match, I play a lot better when I'm nervous". Or if you want to be a bit more truthful to yourself you can think, "I hope I get nervous during my match, it gives me a chance to learn to play with the nerves".

In a nutshell, what I'm trying to say is, if you eliminate the state of worry before a match, it will be easier to control the state of worry during a match. It will provide you with a clearer head to be able to rationally work out how you are going to embrace the nerves, and make them be your female dog.
You eliminate it by actively wanting it to happen. If you want it to happen, you no longer worry that it happens.

Although I'm not completely there, I think this has helped me. I walk into a match now, and I gear myself up for a fight with my nerves, not my opponent. If my nerves don't turn up, awesome, I can just play my game. If my nerves do turn up, and I can't beat them. I sure as hell won't be able to beat my opponent.
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First,
Hi and welcome - I think you have made a great post!

I want to try and expound on it a bit.

I kind of disagree with your premise that you should encourage nervousness before a match.  I think rather than encourage you need to accept that nerves is a part of the game and come up with a plan in advance on how you will deal with those nerves should they happen.

Pre match nerves -
I can point to one thing that definitely is the cause of pre match nerves for a lot of players and that is setting an expectation on the outcome of a match - and it doesn't really matter what that outcome is- If you go into a match thinking you should definitely crush your opponent and you start to falter you will bring upon nerves - If you go into a match thinking you are going to get crushed then you have already set yourself up for failure and induced negative nerves when you need not.  Go in with the expectation that you are going to do the best you can on any given turn/dart and you can help quell some of those nerves.

Techniques to avoid pre match nerves -
Preparation - Practice -
Quite simply if you haven't been practicing prior to the match you are not going to feel comfortable or confident no matter what you do -

Routine -
Have something that you ALWAYS do as part of your pre match routine - It doesn't really matter what it is only that it is something you always do - it will give you a sense of comfort and normalcy - practice your pre match routing in your practice sessions -
The routine shouldn't necessarily be goal oriented more completion oriented

Have plan if the nerves kick in on how you want to overcome them in advance of the onset

Match nerves - techniques for pulling it back -

So you went into the match you practiced prior and you did your routine and things aren't going your way - your starting to seize up the nerves are kicking in -

Lower your expectations instead of raising them -

you can see this in all sports really and darts is no different -  a baseball team is behind 5 runs and instead of trying to grind out some runs everyone on the team starts swinging for the fences and striking out - or American Football the quarterback just starts to thrown bombs down the field to no avail - these strategies tend to lead to implosion of self confidence in a downward spiral further exasperating the nervousness they already are feeling

In darts people start saying to themselves well now I need to hit a 140 or 180, or I have to checkout this 147, or whatever - the moment you place a need as an expectation on a shot your starting to reinforce your nerves instead of alleviating them

Even if it's just for one throw focus on something you know you can do - For me it's resisting the temptation of throwing for triples and just focusing on throwing a solid shot - or focusing on bringing my score down to a reasonable out instead of trying to hammer home that glory finish - once I've accomplished that my confidence starts to come back and it makes it more probable I will hit the harder shots when aiming for them or taking out a simpler out rather than completing muffing a big one

Change your focus -

Another technique is to aim for another number - if you are just not hitting 20's for any reason there's nothing wrong with switching to 19s for a throw or two as a means to reset yourself and regain that confidence -
If you normally a tops guy to finish but have missed several opportunities during the match try setting up 32 of 24 - or something else -

Try to forget the past -

It's easy to get lost in what has already happened in this match or a prior match, but you need to make your best effort to forget what has happened and focus on what you can do going forward -

I know a lot of this is easier said than done and it's easy to get caught up in it in the old heat of battle but having a plan at the onset is a good foot forward in my opinion.
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id like to weigh in on this too, based on own personal experience and the things ive learned from it.

when i first started playing league about 2 years ago i was a total noob. and i was playing people that i had never played before or ever even met before. so there was definitely some nervousness because i didnt want to fail in front of people i didnt know and i didnt want to let my team down because i knew a lot of eyes were going to be on my matches because i was the new guy. that was just general match nerves. the one thing i had in my favor is that i didnt who i was supposed to be scared of. since i had never played these people before i didnt have the "man this guy is good hes gonna crush me if i dont throw a perfect game" nerves. so once i played a few games a lot of the nervousness wore off and i ended up doing pretty well that season for a total beginner.

after that season ended the team i was on dissolved so me and the remaining players decided to start our own team. that season was probably the worst that ive ever played. not only did i now know who to be afraid of, but i was also carrying a team on my back. it was awful. there were nights where i just couldnt hit anything. we got destroyed that season. in our league you can get a max of 23 points per match. after our first 3 matches we had 3 points.......we finished dead last by quite a large margin.

so the next season was a little better. we changed up the team a little bit and this was right around the time i started doing flight school. so i was gaining confidence by the day. the only problem was that everyone else saw how much i was improving. i was quickly becoming one of the best players and everyone knew it. so what happened was that i started getting matched up with the best player on each team. so every week i had to play the best. but it was about halfway through that season that everything just started clicking and i was shredding it. i won a bunch of games, lost quite a few as well. in my league they give all star points for certain things like tons, 5 marks, 3 bulls, high ins, high outs, etc. well i dethroned the guy who had been all star champ every year for like 10 years. and it wasnt even close. unfortunately this didnt always lead to wins. once i hit my groove i was good, but i still had issues with starting off too slowly or not being able to finish when i should have. we finished next to last, which was an improvement at least!

so the next season is/was the current season i am in now. now i am the one that is feared, instead of the one fearing. which has probably won me a few games by itself. but now i have a huge target on my back. now all of a sudden im that guy that when he gets beat people start yelling and fist pumping. they probably pat themselves on the back and talk about how they owned the great Michael on the car ride home. this does put some added pressure on me. but i believed in my skills, and still do. the biggest problem i have had this season is overconfidence. i believe lurker mentioned it in a post above only my problem was the opposite. i would practice at home before the match and i would just kill it. there were times where i just couldnt miss. so i knew i was going to dominate that night. unfortunately i figured out the hard way that you still have to play the match. just about every time i crushed it in practice just an hour before, i ended up stinking up the place that night. it happened so many times i lost count. about 3 or 4 weeks ago my wife and i were practicing before a match and i just stunk. everything was just off. it was that frustrating thing where you are hitting the inside wire of 5 or 1. i was pretty upset because the team we were playing that night had brought in a new player the last time we played them. he was in a league in a nearby city but the league folded. anyway, that night (which was about a month earlier) i played him in the first match of the night and he whooped me pretty good. he also wasnt shy about talking smack. so knowing i was probably going to have to play him that night on top of having an awful practice my confidence level just sunk. as we were walking to car to go to the pub my wife said "youll probably crush it tonight. every time youve had a great practice you havent done well and every time you have a horrible practice it always seems to bring out the best in you". well needless to say that dude started talking smack as soon as i walked in. his night ended after i beat him so bad in cricket that he rage threw all 3 darts at the board at the same time then just walked out. in the middle of the match. i mean our game was over but we still had like 3 more matches to play that night. so that was the first time i made someone rage quit in the middle of a match.

in my opinion its healthy to have a little nervousness. i think its worse to not get nervous at all. however, the more you practice and the more you start believing in yourself the less you will even notice the nervousness. honestly, after like the second season i wasnt nervous playing the good players anymore, i was more nervous when i was playing my really good friends. i lost so many games that i should have won just because i didnt want to play badly in front of my friend. eventually i think you will come to realize that winning or losing doesnt really matter all that much. now i pretty much look at it as an extension of practice, only its against real people. you want to make sure that you put effort, focus, and concentration on every single dart, always....but you also need to have a small bit of "i dont care" attitude.

what clicked for me was when i came to the realization that it didnt matter if i missed because i felt supremely confident that i was going to make it up with the next dart. and if i missed with all 3 then that was ok too because on my next turn im going to turn it around. it was right then and there i realized that somehow, and at some time i had gotten to the point where i wasnt afraid. i wasnt afraid of missing, i wasnt afraid of losing, i wasnt afraid of messing up and leaving myself 10 or 7 or 15 or whatever. and that, my friend is why you are practicing. to get to that place. you are going to be amazed by how many games you win and how many awesome shots you will make when you arent afraid of failing.

theres been a few times where ive been destroyed despite all my confidence but i just look at it as figuring out something else i need to work on. dont get me wrong, i dont like losing. i hate it in fact. but i know that there are only 2 reasons why i ever lose. 1) i just didnt do as good as i could/should have, or 2) the other guy just outplayed me and was better. either way chances are i probably learned something that i needed to improve on and that gives me a goal to focus on. either way, ill be back and ill make sure the guys that beat me today wont have it so easy next time.

Hooah!
MC

PS: i like being able to post things like this because it gets me fired up and wanting to practice!
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Mental combat by Phil pierce is an audio book that is really helping my nerves. There are some really good techniques for a quick fix to cheat your nerves.

Supercharge your sports performance by glenn harold is a meditation audio that I listen to before I leave the house on match nights and I recommend it very highly.

Since this combo of audiobooks I've not suffered from nerves. I was at one point visible shaking on the oche.
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I think Lurker and MC have pretty much nailed it.

For me the two things that helped with my considerable in-game nerves were (1) familiarity and (2) self-belief through practice.

(1) Familiarity.
For me there was no substitute to playing every week.  

Firstly there's the logistical side... Getting a feel for the rhythm of the game, when you need to arrive to warm up, what time you need to leave the house, when to chalk in relation to your game.  The boring but important stuff which means you're not driving into the carpark at Five-to-gametime with no chance to have a throw.  This all helps to make sure you get to the line without being flustered or rushed.

Secondly there's the familiarity of playing under the pressure of league.  This does get easier over time even if you do nothing else to combat nerves or improve your situation.  You also build up a store of good experiences to draw on...  The time you hit a ton plus finish to steal the win.  Hitting 15 tons in one night.  The night you went unbeaten.  Whatever it is for you but you have that history.

(2) Self-belief through practice
When you practice well it gives you confidence that you can throw well.  Maybe you won't throw as well in the league as at home but I don't think anyone from MvG down does that all the time.  But as your practice level rises, so does your competitive level.

I know I can throw a good dart.  I know what a well thrown dart feels like and that what's I want on league night.  I don't get tied up in the visits where I wire 2 on the T20 and the third goes into the corner of T1 if they were well thrown.  I'd rather have a well thrown 43 than a twitchy/snatchy ton.  I don't get into the "I need a 140" mind games, I just concentrate on going to the line and trying to throw well, like I have in practice hundreds (if not thousands) of times.

I'm not trying to do something I know I cannot (like score a ton every visit) but I'm just trying to do what I know I can, which is put my good throw on every dart.

For me the foundation of managing the nerves comes from the hours I have spent developing a reliable throw that I can access both in practice and on league night.

Darts: Harrows Glen Durrant Duzza Series 2 24g, short Harrows Supergrip shafts, Harrows flights (Marathon/Retina/Optix/Rapide) 


Best 501: 13 darts (League), 14 darts (Pro Darter)

Best Checkout: 154 (League), 160 (Pro Darter)
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Wow mc that was inspirational. One of my favourite all time post. Good work.
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Thanks for the replies, and now looking at it, I agree it's probably not best to try and make yourself nervous, but that was my way of not getting nervous about being nervous.

Last night was my league night, and before the game I was just telling myself that there is nothing I can do about getting nervous, it's gonna happen, so just get on with it. This helped greatly because it no longer caught me by surprise, I was expecting it. So during a game, as soon as i see signs of the nerves creeping in, I just took a step back, massive deep breath and concentrated on a relaxed throw, last night was probably the most mentally in control game I've had in long while.

My problem still is though that I'm now in such a slump, with every passing week that I'm not hitting doubles at crucial moments, it's getting harder and harder to win. In all 3 legs I was down to a double with 6 darts at it. It seemed every single throw I took was just the wrong side of the wire, and that makes it even more infuriating. I know I can throw well, but I just can't seem to close out a match at the moment.. I've been playing in the same league for 3 years now, and I never used to have this problem..
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(11-03-2016, 10:50 AM)Titchayers Wrote: My problem still is though that I'm now in such a slump, with every passing week that I'm not hitting doubles at crucial moments, it's getting harder and harder to win. In all 3 legs I was down to a double with 6 darts at it. It seemed every single throw I took was just the wrong side of the wire, and that makes it even more infuriating. I know I can throw well, but I just can't seem to close out a match at the moment.. I've been playing in the same league for 3 years now, and I never used to have this problem..

If you're throwing good darts and they're the wrong side of the wire you probably shouldn't beat yourself up about it.  I know that's not what you want to hear but I believe it to be true.  If you keep throwing good darts they'll start going in.

If on the other hand you feel like you're not throwing well at the doubles then there's stuff you can do about it in practice.

I'm not sure what doubles practice you do but I found this drill really help me throw better at doubles.  Instead of throwing a D20 I try to take out 40.  The distinction here is that if I miss low I have to switch to D10.  It more accurately mimics trying to finish a game of 501 than most drills like Round The Clock or Bob's 27.  My normal drill is to take out 40, 32, 36, 16, 20, 24, 8 and 10.  I have three attempts maximum before moving to the next number.

The closest I have found to simulating the pressure of league is playing against the computer on Pro-Darter.

Darts: Harrows Glen Durrant Duzza Series 2 24g, short Harrows Supergrip shafts, Harrows flights (Marathon/Retina/Optix/Rapide) 


Best 501: 13 darts (League), 14 darts (Pro Darter)

Best Checkout: 154 (League), 160 (Pro Darter)
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Yeah I know, I was happy with how I played. It's just a disappointing result at the end. For instance, last night, I was on last. Going into the game it was 4-4. When you get yourself into a position to have so many cracks at a double and don't hit them becomes a little frustrating. because it's the difference between your team winning, and losing..
I know at some point in the future I'll have the opposite and will be in the form of my life, but I just gotta break the string of losses and confidence will take care of the rest. Easier said than done though haha.

I try to do that a little bit in practice, but gonna add some proper structure to a proper practice routine from now on. This drill will be going in Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
I'll get myself on ProDarter, it sounds like a handy program.
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i agree with Banz 100%. as long as i know i threw it right then i dont get mad much at near misses. they really shouldnt even call them near misses. they should be called near hits hahahah.

one thing ive been trying to work on is not being quite so aggressive on the doubles. when i first started playing i was a bit scared of missing inside so i threw very conservatively. over time my confidence grew and i wasnt really scared of throwing right at that D10 because i dont have any fear of D5. but....there is definitely a balance. just like with nerves. you want a little, but as long as you know that its normal it should make it better.

as far as the slump, i can totally sympathize with you. the weakest part of my game by far is just not closing when i have the chance. ive gotten a lot better at it recently but for a while it frustrated me to no end. getting 2 or 3 tons in a game and throwing at 32 while your opponent is on 200+ and still losing sucks monkey fingers. especially when muck it up so bad that you took 3 turns at D1. or having someone get 8 bulls on you in cricket before you get 3. ugh!

honestly just talking about it and getting it off your chest will probably do more good than you know.

MC
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(11-03-2016, 02:38 PM)mcockrell Wrote: i agree with Banz 100%. as long as i know i threw it right then i dont get mad much at near misses. they really shouldnt even call them near misses. they should be called near hits hahahah.

one thing ive been trying to work on is not being quite so aggressive on the doubles. when i first started playing i was a bit scared of missing inside so i threw very conservatively. over time my confidence grew and i wasnt really scared of throwing right at that D10 because i dont have any fear of D5. but....there is definitely a balance. just like with nerves. you want a little, but as long as you know that its normal it should make it better.

as far as the slump, i can totally sympathize with you. the weakest part of my game by far is just not closing when i have the chance. ive gotten a lot better at it recently but for a while it frustrated me to no end. getting 2 or 3 tons in a game and throwing at 32 while your opponent is on 200+ and still losing sucks monkey fingers. especially when muck it up so bad that you took 3 turns at D1. or having someone get 8 bulls on you in cricket before you get 3. ugh!

honestly just talking about it and getting it off your chest  will probably do more good than you know.

MC

All 3 of my legs last night I ended up on D1. I hit one of them haha. I think you just hit the nail on the head there though. I think my issue is attacking the double too aggressively. I'm going to try from now on too either hit the double with the first dart, or make sure it's outside. That way I should have a feel for what the throw just felt like and gauge the next off of that.

My trouble is, I'll come just inside with the first dart, and then the second dart is completely different throw. I never get a sense of rhythm going when throwing at a double.
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same here! ive found that D10 is a killer for me. i would almost rather go S4 D8 sometimes. most of the time i either spray way out to the right or hit the inside wire, or hit the freaking S15, which i haaaaate.

its funny that i read this post this morning because last night when i was practicing i did something a little different. i was doing bobs 27 and if i missed and hit inside then i counted the turn as being over. ill probably do the same thing the next time i do the A3 drill.

i dont want to be scared to throw at it, but i definitely need to tune down my aggressiveness just a tad.
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(11-03-2016, 04:33 PM)mcockrell Wrote: same here! ive found that D10 is a killer for me. i would almost rather go S4 D8 sometimes. most of the time i either spray way out to the right or hit the inside wire, or hit the freaking S15, which i haaaaate.

its funny that i read this post this morning because last night when i was practicing i did something a little different. i was doing bobs 27 and if i missed and hit inside then i counted the turn as being over. ill probably do the same thing the next time i do the A3 drill.

i dont want to be scared to throw at it, but i definitely need to tune down my aggressiveness just a tad.

That is a clever way of implementing a match style scenario. I'll have to try that.
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Would it be a viable idea when you have 3 darts in hand to aim for the outside wire with the 1st dart then adjust? I've always been told to attack a double that breaks down and aim outside with an odd double.
On D1 my dad always says " stare at the figure 1 with your 1st dart". I kinda look for a hole that's sits just outside of the outside wire. But always attack ever other double.
Food for thought.
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yes, thats the preferred way to go. conventional wisdom says to start outside and just work your way in. unfortunately between nerves, excitement, fear, being liquored up, etc. i dont always follow conventional wisdom hahahaha.

so yeah i knew i had been being too aggressive for a while now, but it was just last night that i decided to work on that and see if i could get better at it.
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