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The ten  attributes a darts player needs for a high level of mental toughness.

If Only You Could Bottle Mental Toughness

Posted: 26.11.11 in Darts Performance Centre Blog category

The ten attributes a darts player needs for a high level of mental toughness.

A darts player can easily pick up one darts title he would rather not be awarded, that of a “bottler”. The term used in sports psychology to describe “bottling” or a sudden decrease in performance under stressful conditions, is “choking”. But what causes it? One theory is that the player gets so weighed down with worry and self-doubt about hitting the double or the treble as the finish line approaches, and as each dart misses the target their performance declines, rapidly. What is the cure for this unwanted accolade?

Researchers have suggested that players (in a range of sports) who suffered from choking were found to be lacking in “mental toughness”. A variety of top sports’ competitors were asked what they believed was the definition of mental toughness and the top ten answers were as follows:



Having an unshakeable self-belief in your ability to achieve competition goals



Having an unshakeable self belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponent



Having an insatiable desire to succeed



Bouncing back from performance setbacks as a result of increased determination to succeed



Thriving on the pressure of competition



Accepting that competition anxiety is inevitable and knowing that you can cope with it



Not being adversely affected by others’ good and bad performances



Remaining fully focused in the face of personal life distractions



Remaining fully focused on the task in the face of competition specific distractions



Regaining psychological control following unexpected and uncontrollable events (competition specific).


 We can probably all recognise players’ good points and probably some bad points in some of these statements. Would anyone dispute that ‘The Power’ ticks all or most of the boxes above? There are areas where players could perhaps learn from the list, for example, remaining fully focused in the face of competition specific distractions. The booing of ‘The King’ or ‘The Count’ arguably had a detrimental effect on their performances and the ‘creaky oche or floorboards’ also had an impact in a recent TV event.

The ‘accidental’ coughing and spluttering from the opponent of a player who is about to throw also springs to mind, or maybe they genuinely can`t help themselves? They could be `choking`?

 Jones, G., Hanton, S., and Connaughton, D. (2002). What is this thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology


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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