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Aidan has been hit by an attack of darting nerves, how can he manage them?

Are we more afraid of winning than losing?

Posted: 07.03.13 in Throw Like A Pro Blog category

Aidan has been hit by an attack of darting nerves, how can he manage them?

Practice is going well... for all budding darts players, it usually does. That is because practice isn’t the hard part. Standing in the living room, beating the proverbial out of our own dart board isn’t necessarily all that tricky. We are safe, in our own environment. There is no one watching us, there is no one trying to beat us. It’s just me, my darts and I.

In two consecutive practice sessions, I have finished up with an average of 64. At this point, I am very happy with that. I have implemented a relatively straight forward routine now that seems to be working;

1.       Around the board hitting fat numbers. Twice.

2.       Around the board hitting doubles. Twice.

3.       Around the board hitting trebles. Twice.

4.       Bob’s 27. Three times.

5.       Bull Up: Go for the bull, then take out the remaining score e.g. hit 7, then try to take out             43 with two darts. Could do this 25/30 times.

6.       N01 Level 5: First to 10.

This will average at 80-100 minutes of practice. I can’t do this every day, but usually manage three times per week. Add to this two league nights, and I am throwing darts five days a week. Signs of improvement are there for all to see... at home.

Had my chances...

Last weekend was an interesting one. On Friday night our league doubles competition took place. Format is simple, first to two 501 wins. My partner and I had been placed against tough opposition in the opening round. Once we battled through opening leg nerves, we settled ourselves, taking the second. In the third and final leg, we had scored consistently well, and both had chances to win the match. We walked away with a smile on our face, knowing we should have won. Knowing such trivia helps no one!

On Saturday, I participated in a singles tournament. I had been working all day and rushed to the venue to find I was straight in to my first game of a round robin board. Without any warm up time, I failed to get going and lost three nil. I was disappointed, because in the second game I won a leg against one of the best in the county. This meant that if I won my last game, and managed to do better than the 3-0 drubbing I had suffered in the first, I would have made it off the board.

In a previous blog, I eluded to the fact that sometimes a warm up may not be that crucial. To anyone who may have taken that advice on board, I apologise. It’s utter nonsense. (DPC_Aidan is right, it was utter nonsense -check out this blog when you have finished reading this). Preparation is key in darts, and without the time to spend at least an hour on the board before a competitive leg, you are not in your best condition to play.

I am nervous about my nerves!

Writing this the morning after the night before might not be the best idea, but the frustration is beginning to take over. Bringing my darts from the practice board to a competition is proving near impossible. It’s just not translating.

My most recent outing was in a doubles league game. We were 4-3 up in games, so my partner and I knew if we won the doubles game we secured the victory. I had a little warm up, and felt relatively comfortable. Until the game began, and I might as well have been throwing a strangers’ darts.

There was no rhythm, comfort, style, accuracy... nothing. It was all wrong. I was a style of nervous I hadn’t experienced on the oche before. When playing the likes of Barney and Priestley, you are expected to lose, so what’s the worst that can happen? On this occasion, I knew I was better than my opponents.

But of course, this only matters if you throw what you believe are your ‘normal’ darts on the night. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I stepped to the oche the same way I always do. Having eyed up the target, I sprayed three darts across the board, none closer than 5cm in proximity.

It was all down to nerves. But I wasn’t worried about losing. Certainly I didn’t think I was. I was nervous of winning. How often have we seen players steam their way to a double, before tripping themselves up to get over the winning line. The thoughts of losing the game weren’t at the forefront of my mind. But I couldn’t handle the pressure of winning.... Confusing eh?

What can I do to counter act this?

Having a couple of pints isn’t an option I want to entertain. I have tried breathing exercises, they are somewhat helpful, but there has to be more. A positive in this dismal performance is that I won’t be changing my darts, stems, flights etc. I know this isn’t the problem. If I am throwing well at home, I can throw well away. But my approach needs to be the same, because the darts don’t change during travel!

So for me, area’s to work on will include:

·         Pre-throw Routine (Do the same thing every time... EVERY time!)

·         Positive Self-Talk (Saying something in my head to keep me focussed and calm)

·         Imagery (Seeing the dart go in before I throw it)

·         Breathing exercises (In...Out...In...Out J)

·         Speed (Slow down, slower...slower....slower...) 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Meet Aidan

Aidan has been a fan of darts since a young age, although he didn't pick up his first set if arrows until he was 23. In that time, Aidan has been dedicated to finding out what it takes to become a professional. He plays with two club teams in his County in Ireland.

Aidan documents his ups and downs of improving his game, and explores some of the unknown, yet crucial elements of darts such as nerves, confidence and much much more.


Aidan teamed up with the Darts Performance Centre ahead of his battle with Raymond van Barneveld 12 months ago, a relationship which he admits has "helped me to focus on certain areas that needed improvement, and the support from Paul and Andy guarantees will make you a better dart player".

Aidan throws a 21g DPC dart. He loves to tell people that he has now lost count of the amount of 180s he has thrown. His highest checkout in a competitive leg is 130, and the closest he has come to a perfect leg was two maximums before crippling under pressure to finish out with a 15 dart leg.


His plan is simple: to be a Pro! Follow his journey right here!

Aidan welcomes any feedback, advice or questions. You can find him on twitter:

@A_Farrelly or email: throwlikeaprodarts@gmail.com

Author: Aidan Farrelly ( throwlikeaprodarts@gmail.com )

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