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Phil Taylor is a great example of how a change (or two) can initially wreck your darts game!

Coaching Clinic 33

Posted: 24.04.14 in Coaching Clinic Blog category

Phil Taylor is a great example of how a change (or two) can initially wreck your darts game!

* This article was written a month or so ago when Phil Taylor was struggling to find his A game after losing a lot of weight and switching darts.*

Love him or loathe him Phil Taylor is the greatest dart player ever to step up to the oche. But not at the moment!  So what has caused his problems and how can understanding why he is having issues help dart players of all standards?

The two most popular theories (and I believe they are valid) are that Phil, it has been reported, has lost 4 stone in weight. This will affect the bio-mechanics of his throw, his arm is lighter and he needs to make adjustments for this. His centre of gravity would have shifted too, so again adjustments are needed to his posture and even maybe his oche position.

He has some rather nice shiny Target darts too! The Power elected to secure his financial future by switching darts suppliers although this has also contributed to his darting downfall. Taylor’s technique developed in unison with his Unicorn darts, they were a perfect partnership!

The third part of the puzzle is the most interesting bit. “It’s in his head” now is another theory that has been used to explain the diminishing power of Phil Taylor and this reminded me of a section in a book called Bounce.

Matthew Syed (the author) describes how when learning to master a sport your brain has two systems. One system is used as you try to master whatever technique you are trying to master, darts in our case of course. The second system kicks in when you throw a dart (with a near to perfect technique) without having to think about it.

Remember how you drove a car when you were learning and first on the road? Every action needed thought and if you were distracted in any way the gears would crunch! Compare that to now. You complete journeys and reach your destination and you often have no memory of changing gear, negotiating roundabouts or other road users! It is automatic.

Using Syed’s theory, what if Phil is now resorting to playing as he did when he first took up the sport of darts? The changes have, in his mind, sent him back to “over-thinking” and not playing automatically.

There are a number of lessons we can take from this. The first one is patience. If like Taylor you change things, then you have to give time to the changes so they can bed in and become automatic.

I would suggest also giving a lot of thought to a change of darts. You may like the look of what is on the other side of the river but it may be a rough journey getting across! If you truly believe a change will help, factor in that there will be a price to pay.

The last thing is what sports stars are advised to do when they go through a technique crisis and struggle to replicate the actions they have done automatically for years. They are trained to tell themselves that the contest doesn’t matter! It’s only a darts match; family, health and friends are what are important.

From the Dog and Duck to The Premier League players ambush themselves with thoughts of could, would, should have after every throw. They distract themselves from focusing on the task of winning a darts match by over analysing their every throw. Analysis of your game is crucial, but save it for your practice sessions and reflection after a match. Over thinking during the game is the opposite of what you should be doing and that is playing without fear and automatically.

Remember, it’s only a darts match! 


TheDarts Performance Centre is a resource to assist dart players of all standards play better darts. The site is arranged as an online 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. You also get an invite to our free but exclusive members only events and acess to our members only darts coaching app! Membership is £25 per year!


Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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