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The sports psychology lecturer gives Team Kasbah the heads up on their darts play! Will they "shrink" or rise to the challenge?

The Darts Experiment - Night 3 (The detailed version)

Posted: 16.03.11 in Darts Experiment Blog category

The sports psychology lecturer gives Team Kasbah the heads up on their darts play! Will they "shrink" or rise to the challenge?


For the analysis of week 3 and the video explaining the four mental skills all dart players should know click here


Jamie Sims has an impressive CV and a wealth of experience and knowledge of sports psychology and coaching, but how would he fare with his first experience of coaching dart players in the mental skills that are required in darts?  We set up a “lecture” area at the back of the Kasbah club, which is also home to four dart boards, it could not have been better.

Jamie started his workshop by telling Team Kasbah what every dart player has always suspected, that the development of mental skills is the difference between success and failure in all sports, let alone darts. The group discussion initially focused on what thoughts help or hinder a player during a darts match. kevin and Lennon described how two profoundly tragic events helped galvanise them in the week after the death of family members to play the best darts they had ever played. 

One of these players has for the last 15 months been trying to recreate the “anger” he felt during the week following the death of his Uncle to try and mimic the form he displayed on the night he played immediately after his Uncle`s death. Other examples included a player who some weeks will let everything distract him, the board is not straight, the oche is too short and they hear coughs and splutters coming from their opponent, real or imaginary. Most players I suspect can relate to this scenario. On the other hand some weeks the opposite is true, nothing can put you off from playing the “perfect game”.

The common denominator of all these scenarios where a player is performing well is that their minds are elsewhere, it was not the anger or feelings of sadness that helped out our Team Kasbah player’s to perform better than usual, it was the fact they were in the zone, in flow, whatever you want to call it, in other words they were not thinking about throwing their darts. They had no fear, no nerves. The opposite in fact of the player over analysing all that is wrong, the board the oche the cough! That`s the simple bit out the way, the theory, so how can you put into practice the feeling of being on “automatic pilot” and throw without fear?  Well some bad news, it isn`t going to be during one two hour session with Jamie, although his session will be a huge clue for Team Kasbah to start doing all the right things to assist in reaching the “ideal state” to play in.

The main focus of the first practical session was a challenge match between Lennon and Tim. Without their knowledge the rest of Team Kasbah were asked to analyse certain aspects of how both players set about winning a darts match, the focus was not on their scoring! The areas of interest were:

  • What sequence of event did they go through before each throw (pre-throw routine)
  • Their body language when collecting their darts
  • Their body language whilst waiting for their opponent to throw
  • What were they doing whilst their opponent was throwing
  • What their reaction was and how they handled an interruption (did they carry on or stop and start again)?
  • Their self-talk – is it positive or negative?

Jamie then explained the necessity and reasons behind why body language is so crucial and we did some work on the correct posture.

The practical session was a great success and Jamie shifted his planned routine slightly to continue with getting each player to throw and then slowly introducing different skills that with practice are fundamental to getting dart players “in the zone” on a regular basis. These areas included:

  • Using a breathing technique as some stage before throwing
  • Imaging your dart landing in the dartboard you are playing on before you throw
  • Arousal levels, yes arousal levels, what to do when the heart starts beating  and the anxiety starts kicking in
  • Talking positive
  • Goal setting

All these areas can help you to build a shield around yourself, safe from any outside or inside your head distractions to ensure you are totally focused each time you throw. Or, an analogy from Jamie that was greeted with great amusement, skills that act as mental “uppers and downers” to get you in the zone!

 This is a snap shot of what was covered last night. Jamie and I left at 11.15pm, our two hour session started at 7.30! A fascinating night for Team Kasbah and for me! Thanks Jamie.


A more detailed explanation of all the techniques used, how to perform them and extended video footage from last night is available to all members of  The Darts Performance Centre,. 12 months membership and access to all our ideas, articles and practice games is just £25.00.


You can also register for free and receive our newsletter and a free poster.


If you would be interested in your team being coached by the Darts Performance Centre Team  or taking part in a Darts Experiment  please get in touch: paul@dartsperformancecentre.com

Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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