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Another fantastic night of darts last night! Today we look under the bonnet of "The Machine" to check his mind is on winning.

The World Grand Prix Night 3

Posted: 05.10.11 in Tournament Analysis Blog category

Another fantastic night of darts last night! Today we look under the bonnet of "The Machine" to check his mind is on winning.

On Tuesday night there were a few grumblings from darts fans that a interview with Phil Taylor and Peter Wright took precedent over the start of a match between Whitlock and Jenkins. It is a tough call for the producer with back to back games and a post midnight finish looming on the horizon.

For me though it's a “no brainer”. If you are interested in a player's character, how their mind works or what their reaction to winning or defeat is then a post match interview can be a mine of data. Data mining can, however, be a complex business. You do need to set aside the “post match hysteria” to source the nuggets of feedback that can help you understand the vital characteristics of their personality.

We won’t dwell too much on “The Power”, his interviews are always fascinating but we will reserve our thoughts on what they tell us lurks beneath the greatest player ever for some other time.

Listening to the interview with “The Machine” last night reminded me of some work I did on internal factors that can either have an adverse or positive effect on performance. Very often these factors present themselves straight after a match. For example, some players will “protect” themselves after defeat-they will come up with excuses for why they lost (the crowd, the opponent, illness). On the other hand, after a victory, the same players will not give themselves sufficient credit for winning (opponent missed doubles).

It may sometimes be out of respect for their opponent (I did say getting to the truth can be complex). The key point is though, players with this mindset may start to believe that winning and losing is not under their control. They explain winning and losing away as a force of external factors and nothing to do with their own performance.

A player possessing a winning mentality has a completely different mindset. They are convinced that their performance is governed entirely by them. The amount of skill, motivation, preparation and use of their honed technique are the deciding factors of winning a darts match.

What about when these type of players lose? They will not make excuses.  No, they will use a defeat as motivation, they will reflect on what went wrong and add whatever the factors were to their practice schedule. The last thing Taylor will say after a post match defeat is that he will be heading straight back to the practice board.

When James Wade was interviewed after the game last night his winning mentality shone through. He admitted he was miles away from his "A" game. But, he added, “even playing the way I am at the moment I know it's good enough to win darts matches!"  Compare the mindset of James up on the oche with that of Barney last night. Chalk and cheese! Wade has total belief in his ability. I believe he is convinced that when he plays a darts match, or at any stage of a darts match that he will win it. Barney most certainly doesn’t!

The laid back Peter Wright also demonstrated some of the traits we have discussed during his interview with The Power. Snakebite shrugged off his defeat as due to “playing the best player in the world”.  A little unfair on "Snakebite" you may argue-maybe? (There are plenty of other examples but interviews have been in short supply so far). But a good example nevertheless of the external factors that some players believe are the cause of a defeat.

The mind is a very powerful tool for a dart player, but like any valuable sporting skill it needs training. 


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Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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