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“Gooner” recounted his epic journey over land and sea to qualify for the UK Open.Today Darren discusses how he is preparing for his encounter with William O’Connor

Be Prepared! UK Open Darts Blog - Part 2

Posted: 29.05.11 in Tournament Analysis Blog category

“Gooner” recounted his epic journey over land and sea to qualify for the UK Open.Today Darren discusses how he is preparing for his encounter with William O’Connor


Since qualifying for the Speedy Hire UK Open, both I and Tony Broughton have had a great write up in the Local Press, everyone at work keeps asking when I am on Sky Sports and my local sides are made up that one of theirs is at Bolton. I have had loads of good luck messages from everywhere which has been great.

Obviously I have had to practise and instead of practising against other players I have decided to stay in and play against the Darts for Windows. I have been playing against the PDC World Champs 2011 and the Grand Slam of Darts 2010. I first started playing best of 11 legs, until I realised the format has been changed to best of 7 and I have been playing 3 times a week 

I noticed that playing against the computer with the averages showing, I was actually spending more time watching my average go up and down and to be honest not playing that great and losing with around a 25 average. To combat this I turned the averages off, so that it only gives you a summary at the end and since then, and even this has shocked me, I have only hit one average under 30 and more importantly the fight and focus is really there even when playing against the computer.

Darts Performance Centre – Sorry to interrupt! That is a very interesting point Darren makes and raises two issues. We do emphasise the importance of taking your practice seriously-not having one eye on the TV or texting during practice (you are not going to be doing that during a game are you?) and Darren has explained exactly why. The second point is something we noticed recently at The Petersfield Open. This is the amount of players that waste valuable relaxation/strategy time when their opponent is throwing. Instead of taking a mental break for a few seconds or perhaps visualising their next throw or planning exactly what route they are going to take they distract themselves by worrying about what their opponent is doing. The “tips” blog isn’t until tomorrow so that one is a bonus!

Back to “Gooner”

However, whilst it is great to go into the tournament with a 30 (90) average I am a firm believer that if you feel good on the night then the darts will follow suit. I have been concentrating more on the mental side and have scaled down the practice to find the time for this.  I have been trying to downplay the importance of the Event as well, which is pretty hard when people at work keep asking questions about it, especially which big name I would like to play if I get through to the Friday!

I am not letting this distract me. All my focus is on playing William O'Connor on Board Seven on Thursday June 2nd. I know he is a good player and I could have had a kinder draw, but he doesn't know me and I am sure he will also be worrying a little as he has everything to lose and nothing to gain. He won’t get headlines for winning, it is what he expects, but he certainly will if he loses!

Darts Performance Centre – It may be a cliché but Darren is spot on and we believe it is a point that all the qualifiers can draw some motivation and encouragement from. As Darren points out he has nothing to lose, just like all the qualifiers, they can all come off the oche, no matter what the result, feeling great pride in being there in the first place and knowing that tens of thousands of grass roots players would love to swap places with them. What about the “Goliaths”? Well they have everything to lose; their reputation is on the line in a race to just four legs. The only surprise on Thursday night will be if there are no surprises- watch this space!



Back to Darren:

I have booked the hotel until Sunday, so that's confidence for you! Seriously though, I am going to go to Bolton with the full intention of enjoying myself and soaking up the atmosphere of the event. I am not walking into this blind either, as I was fortunate to qualify for the Winmau World Masters two years ago and managed to win my 1st game against a top Dutch player which was a brilliant experience. Tony has also relived his experience from last year and that has given me a taste of what to expect.

Since the Masters two years ago I have been playing Hampshire Super League Darts which has made me a better player in my mind and if the focus and confidence is there on Thursday, then I will be fine. 

Catch up with our other UK Open Blogs here: The Preview and Darren Part 1

Tomorrow we have some tips for all the qualifiers on how to ensure they are as well prepared as they can be to topple one of the "big names"! We promise we wont mention "play the board"!

The Darts Performance Centre is an independant resource for all standard of dart players. We have advice and suggestions that can help you play better darts! 

Author: Darren Hawken and Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )