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If you could ask us two darting related question what would they be? We think they would be about nerves and practice!

Coaching Clinic 12

Posted: 18.06.12 in Coaching Clinic Blog category

If you could ask us two darting related question what would they be? We think they would be about nerves and practice!


There is an old joke about a client asking his solicitor how much it is going to cost him to have two questions answered. £50 each, now what’s the second one comes the reply?

If we were to give dart players the opportunity to ask me and my colleague Andrew Humphrey two questions about what mystifies them about darts we have a hunch as to what they may be.

The first question we are regularly asked is how to control nerves and the like before a game (shaky hands, sweaty palms, negative thoughts all amount to roughly the same thing). In fact an anxious player contacted me before he was due to play in a Rileys UK Open qualifier seeking some assistance with his nerves and shaky hands.

We scoured through our research and found this idea:

Close your eyes and put a couple of fingers on your pulse. Then start thinking about the stress and anxiety you feel when you are playing-the shaky hands the lot. You should feel your pulse rising!

Then, still with your eyes closed start, one by one to replace all the stressful thoughts with things that help you to relax. Out for a walk, in the pub with friends, maybe a certain piece of music, use whatever it is that makes you feel calm.


As you immerse your thoughts with relaxing images you should feel your pulse slowing down. With practice, reversing the pulse racing can be quick-it may not happen first time but keep at it. Once it starts working you will have a strategy you can use just before and whilst you are playing.

At the Rileys qualifier there were some surprising results reported from our “shaky hands man”! We will follow his progress and update you next month!



And the Second Question?

Most probably this would be about practice-and most probably it would be “why can’t I replicate my form on the practice board on the match board”?

The first reason (of many but we only have room for two) and no doubt  our “shaky hands man” would testify this is true, is when you are practising in a relaxed environment at home or at the club or pub with your team mates, it is a completely different experience to a league match or tournament. Unless you can exactly replicate the “state” your mind and body are in during practice time then the results are going to be different.


The second main reason is that some dart players pass their practice games or regime as “fit for purpose” when in fact they do not actually address the areas they should be working on. We have just started an 8 week practice programme for our members on the website. We have introduced several ideas, most likely not tried before by most of the dart players taking part, one of which is to ensure every session comes under the banner of “conscious practice”.


By “conscious practice” we mean practice games that can have targets set to beat each time, games that focus on a particular aspect of winning darts matches and games that can help you identify areas of improvement and focus on them rather than practising areas you are already good at! Lastly, we don’t mean endless games of 501, with or without an opponent.

Thanks for asking!



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 and Andrew Humphrey ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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