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Practicing your "mental game" during solitary practice
I'm currently working my way through a book and online material on the concept of "Mental Management." That is, learning to create a constant mental performance regardless of surrounding environment. The argument being that you can't hope to perform consistently if what's going on in your head isn't the same for every shot.

One of the principles I am learning about at the moment is the concept of running a "mental program" during each trip to the oche. This is basically a pre-scripted series of thoughts that you would force yourself to think each time you set up to shoot. The purpose of this seems to be two-fold: to occupy the conscious mind before the shot (the principle being we only have the ability to consciously think about 1 thing at a time), and to transfer control to the sub-conscious mind at the moment of the throw - basically throwing without thinking.

Apparently this technique is commonly used by accomplished people in other highly "mental-driven" sports, such as golf, archery, and shooting.

So, all that said, here is what I've been wondering:
If you wanted to learn to use this concept of running a mental program, and become proficient at it, then you need to practice it. You need to be constantly running this mental program during solitary practice to the point where it becomes second nature.

BUT, it also seems that to develop your subconscious skill to the point where you can fully trust it, you need to be actually concentrating on your stroke and mechanics during practice. Sort of a paradox it seems.

I am wondering how to reconcile this? Would you just practice your "mental control" all the time, trying to always throw subconsciously? Therefore you are relying on your skill level to increase almost automatically by pure repetition.

Or do you need to actually NOT try to control your thoughts during solitary practice and spend you time analyzing your mechanics. And maybe just set some time aside every practice session to practice "throwing without thinking?" And if this is correct, what percentage of your practice time should you be practicing your mental program as compared to actively analyzing your stroke?

I'm not sure what kinds of answers I'm actually expecting here. I just think it would be an interesting discussion. I would just love to hear the opinions of you guys.
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Wow very Zen!

I can see what you mean about it been a paradox, so much relies on the mental side been right and I find it the hardest thing of all to just throw without thinking but I know for a fact that I have played my best on the few times I have been able to do it.

I also read something recently that advised using visualization and believing that every throw you do will hit its target. I guess somewhere some part of the sub concious eventually takes over the concious side and imparts its influence but I dont feel qualified enough to advise on the best way to practice it, I can only guess that at some point you will need to be concious of your technique in order to know what is right or wrong with it.
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(08-29-2013, 04:40 AM)JohnK Wrote: One of the principles I am learning about at the moment is the concept of running a "mental program" during each trip to the oche. This is basically a pre-scripted series of thoughts that you would force yourself to think each time you set up to shoot. The purpose of this seems to be two-fold: to occupy the conscious mind before the shot (the principle being we only have the ability to consciously think about 1 thing at a time), and to transfer control to the sub-conscious mind at the moment of the throw - basically throwing without thinking.

Apparently this technique is commonly used by accomplished people in other highly "mental-driven" sports, such as golf, archery, and shooting.

So, all that said, here is what I've been wondering:
If you wanted to learn to use this concept of running a mental program, and become proficient at it, then you need to practice it. You need to be constantly running this mental program during solitary practice to the point where it becomes second nature.

BUT, it also seems that to develop your subconscious skill to the point where you can fully trust it, you need to be actually concentrating on your stroke and mechanics during practice. Sort of a paradox it seems.

I am wondering how to reconcile this? Would you just practice your "mental control" all the time, trying to always throw subconsciously? Therefore you are relying on your skill level to increase almost automatically by pure repetition.

Or do you need to actually NOT try to control your thoughts during solitary practice and spend you time analyzing your mechanics. And maybe just set some time aside every practice session to practice "throwing without thinking?" And if this is correct, what percentage of your practice time should you be practicing your mental program as compared to actively analyzing your stroke?

I'm not sure what kinds of answers I'm actually expecting here. I just think it would be an interesting discussion. I would just love to hear the opinions of you guys.

Practice is a time to work hard on things. This means actively coaching yourself. Match play is a time to let the hard work shine. This means turning off the analytical switch and turning on the confidence switch.

Sometimes my entire practice session is spent actively working on little things in the grip, release, and stroke. Other times my practice session is a blend of refining my mechanics and practicing '01 or Cricket. The amount of time that I spend on these things during practice varies from day to day.

The key for me is to have an awareness of what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong. From this awareness, I know what I have to work on to get back on track and I adjust my practice time accordingly.

Learning how to control your mind prevents you from being controlled by your mind...if that makes any sense.
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(09-05-2013, 03:29 AM)habanerojooz Wrote: Learning how to control your mind prevents you from being controlled by your mind...if that makes any sense.

That makes perfect sense, and is the crux of my issue: to learn to control your mind, you have to practice controlling your mind. And if you are actively practicing mental control, then it seems like you may NOT be actively refining other aspects of your game (such as mechanics) during that time because you purposely AREN'T thinking about that stuff.

My question then is: how does "mental practice" fit into one's daily solitary practice routine without sacrificing the refinement of the physical skills?

And since it is said that 90-95% of the game is mental, it seems that it had better be fitting in somewhere!!
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I'd like to know if Taylor practices the mental side, he must be the most mentally strong player ever.
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think thats just a narcissistic personality disorder he has lol
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My best darts comes when I concentrate on that little tuff or spot or shadow - and I'm not thinking about my grip or anything else. Its amazing what you can do if you focus on a spot and shoot at it. I come to the oche - position myself - bring the dart up and then look for that shadow,spot, tuff, barrel of previous thrown dart, top of the wire on treble 20 or double 20 and throw for it. Thats me.
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(09-05-2013, 07:42 PM)*Saber* Wrote: My best darts comes when I concentrate on that little tuff or spot or shadow - and I'm not thinking about my grip or anything else. Its amazing what you can do if you focus on a spot and shoot at it. I come to the oche - position myself - bring the dart up and then look for that shadow,spot, tuff, barrel of previous thrown dart, top of the wire on treble 20 or double 20 and throw for it. Thats me.

Absolutely! I totally agree with this! Sometimes I add some mental imagery in there too - I'll imagine my yet-to-be-thown darts sticking out of the T20 bed, try to imagine the feel of a perfectly thown dart, imagine the emotions I feel when I hit that 180. All of that seems to be a trigger to my subconscious to do what it does best when I don't interfere with it - put the dart in the hole!

Easier said than done though, especially under a pressure situation like a match winning double or while being distracted (the bathroom door opening and closing within your line of sight or some such nonsense).

So do you focus like this all the time, even during solitary practice? Do you give any time over to actively working on your mechanics? Or - and this seems to be what George would agree with - do you focus on the target and only the target at all times and let the mechanics sort themselves out over countless repetition?
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I being a flight school student do as George suggests. If My darts start wondering or landing funny ,then and only then do I look at the mechanics culprit. And yes I focus like this all the time. Practice or game situation. In fact most errant darts I throw is because I'm not focused.
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Basically what we are saying then is be confident and believe you will hit your target at all times?
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(09-05-2013, 10:17 PM)Getagrip Wrote: Basically what we are saying then is be confident and believe you will hit your target at all times?

Almost, but not quite. I think it's more about not getting in your own way and letting your brain at a subconscious/automated level make the necessary adjustments.

As an analogy I dont have to think about mechanics when I walk, write my name, or pick my nose. The mechanics develop by doing these things.

Confidence and belief however I would say is an important reinforcement.
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Got ya, it makes sense.
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concentrate on the moment. Feel, don't think. Use your instincts. May the Force be with you. -Qui-Gon Jinn. more words or wisdom from a jedi lol
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dont think feeelll - Bruce Lee
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bump - good stuff here.
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