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We have some common sense advice for the qualifiers of the UK Open, eat drink but don

Play the board? Play the man? Why not just play darts?

Posted: 30.05.11 in Tournament Analysis Blog category

We have some common sense advice for the qualifiers of the UK Open, eat drink but don't be too merry!


We Bet the Qualifiers Will Do Well

The Speedy Hire UK Open is nearly here! All the 64 qualifiers are preparing in their own way for what could be the biggest night of their darting lives. Players have the chance to pull off the impossible – they have already been written off by the bookies looking at Darts Beers and Cheers preview of the betting odds.

David Dodds 6/1 in a “two horse race” against The Machine. John Bowles is 7/4 to prevail against the wily Peter Manley. Wayne Mardle is 2/5 on to beat qualifier Darren Pugh, a racing cert isn’t he? I for one will not be having a penny on Hawaii 501 at those odds. One of our “adopted” players Darren Hawken is a 7/4 shot to win the race to four legs against William O’Connor. According to the bookies the qualifiers are wasting their time. We disagree, as we said yesterday the biggest surprise will be if there are no surprises!

Did You Hear the One About the Dart Player?

What is the difference between a PDC player and a UK Open qualifier? Sorry this isn’t a joke but a serious question. We reckon that ability wise there is little difference between the PDC players outside say the top thirty (the pack as we call them) and the qualifiers who play regularly and do well in BDO or independent floor tournaments. The key difference is perhaps that “the pack” have extra experience of playing in televised tournaments, perhaps are more used to the pressure and expectation of this type of event and most crucially of all are better in control of their nerves.

Shorten the odds

So for the qualifiers to defy the odds they need to ensure that they do everything within their control to narrow the gap between them and the member of “the pack”. Here is our common sense guide to some of what we would advise players:

1.            Don’t Change a Thing! Go through your normal routine. Don’t arrive hours earlier than you would normally, don’t over practise and keep your routine exactly the same as if it was a friendly game in your local against The Dog and Duck.

2              Eat, Drink but not too Merry! Get a decent meal in before you arrive at the venue; a slow-burn meal such as pasta to keep your energy levels up. Get plenty of water down you, sipping regularly rather than a pint straight down. If you usually take a different sort of liquid on board pre-match then I guess we stick to our original advice and go with it. Don’t do a Tony Fleet and try to drown your nerves in alcohol.

3              Body Language! The human mind can be fooled. Scientists proved that simply by smiling (no matter what emotional state the subject was in) the person felt happier. If you go up on the oche and “act” confident see what happens! First of all look like a dart player, iron your shirt and shine your shoes. Take a confident posture, straight back, no slouching, wry smile, a firm handshake and look at him straight in the eye. Most importantly get up there believing you are going to win!

4              Bull Hitters!  Darren is focusing on his mental game now, great idea, this is where a close game will be won or lost. However, one bit of darts practice is called for: start banging away at the bull! Win the throw on Thursday night and please remember you are not “The Power” so don’t give it away! If you can get yourself one up that will help settle the nerves!

5              Stay in the Present! Picture the scene, you are 3:0 up, you are on the verge of taking the “PDC scalp”-your mind drifts to Friday, I wonder if I will get Taylor or Anderson, I hope I get the brunette as my walk-on-girl-what shall I spend my winnings on? You glance at the score-board again, it’s 3:3 and “the scalp” is on a finish! Maybe an exaggeration but we have all let legs slip by day dreaming. Don’t think about the last missed double, or that you are two down or two up, stay focused on the here and now, one dart at a time!

So that’s it then, sounds pretty straight forward now doesn’t it! Unfortunately it won’t be but narrowing the odds in your favour will give you the best chance. One of the greatest coaches of American Football Vince Lombardi always had a poignant quote or two. So paraphrasing the great man we will conclude with one thought for all the qualifiers:

“Leave no regrets on the oche”


The Darts Performance Centre is a resource to assist dart players of all standards play better darts. The site is arranged as an on-line coaching manual. There is advice on technique, nerves, psychology, goal setting, practice games, an area to log your statistics and an interactive area where your darting questions are answered by two sports scientists, one with 30 years dart playing experience! Membership is just £25.00 per annum. 

Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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