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What does it take to be a champion? natural talent or commitment and the right practice?

The Ten Thousand Hours Man

Posted: 23.06.11 in Darts Performance Centre Blog category

What does it take to be a champion? natural talent or commitment and the right practice?

       

Welcome to The Darts Performance Centre Darts Blog

So what do you reckon, what do you think it takes to emulate The Power, Jackpot, The Crafty Cockney and Wolfie and be a World Champion in darts?

Natural talent, do you think you may need that? We often hear commentators claim Jackpot is the “most naturally gifted” dart player in the World – I usually lob something at the TV at that point. It is more likely that Adrian has been playing darts since he was a kid; he once won the British Teenage Open and it is years and years of hurling darts in practice and competition that has turned him into a “natural” talent.

There is in fact an overwhelming body of evidence building up from scientists that ordinary people can become experts in sports and the arts by practising in such a way that learning is accelerated. So whether you are playing darts or playing Mozart the necessary skill can be learnt and mastered.

Before you get too excited, the term accelerated may have misled you. Scientist also quote the “ten thousand hour rule”. This  is the estimate scientist have suggested is the length of time it takes to master whatever it is you are attempting to achieve, darts champion, professional footballer or virtuoso musician. I was reminded of this when I was directed to the website of Dan-The Ten Thousand Hour Man.

Dan has a plan! He wants to be a champion golfer. Before the Dan Plan came into being he had hardly ever hit a golf ball, he was not particularly sporty –he didn’t even know if he was going to whack the ball using his left hand or right to hold the club when he started out! However, Dan has also heard of the ten thousand hour rule and he is trying it out for himself. He is 1600 hours into his quest to be a champion at golf, so we will have to wait (4 years by Dan’s estimation) and see if Dan is indeed the man!

So what about all the dart players out there who have been frantically tapping on their calculators and found they are close, are on or have surpassed the ten thousand hour rule and are yet to win a place in the pub team let alone the Premier League?  One reason for this may be their commitment to darts. Scientists investigated a group of children of equal musical abilities who were all about to start lessons at the same time. They were astounded to discover it was the children that had stated their long term commitment to the instrument they were playing that were the ones that learnt the fastest.

It does sound plausible if you take time to consider this. One of my favourite coaching quotes is to ask players “can you play darts”? This is usually when they have the double to hit, one dart in their hand, this is usually about the time you find out if you can really play darts. It is the players who, when they picked up a set of darts for the first time and realised this was it,  they really, really wanted to be a dart player and that this idea stayed with them through thick and thin are the ones that will not hesitate to prove that “yes, they can play darts”.

Why? Because that long term commitment to the sport of darts will probably mean the player has a built in motivation to play darts. They will practise longer, harder and hopefully more effectively (if they get the right advice). They will learn from the mistakes they have made and not keep repeating them. They will prepare themselves properly for every game and every practice session, they will set goals, you cannot improve without setting challenging goals and their motivation will rarely wane.

If you have passed ten thousand hours and believe that yes you fit the profile of our “perfect player” above but are still struggling to master the game then you are a scientific phenomenon! Either that or you just weren’t a natural!

 

Paul Gillings - The Darts Performance Centre was developed to train dart players in a "different way" We strive to offer the best and most contemporary coaching advice for darts. We now have a range of clients who would testify our methods work. You can support our work by becoming a member-memebrship is £25 per annum

 

Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )