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This month we discuss the benefits of taking to yourself during a game and how splitting a darts match into three parts can help your practice.

Coaching Clinic 5

Posted: 12.10.11 in Coaching Clinic Blog category

This month we discuss the benefits of taking to yourself during a game and how splitting a darts match into three parts can help your practice.


Over the past month my colleague Andrew Humphrey and I have been out and about meeting and coaching dart players. It has been fascinating. We started off with the pub team, The Kasbah a few months ago. We recently visited a group of county players in Nottingham as well as a player with aspirations to progress through the PDC via the Q School in January.  We learn a lot about dart players during these visits. However, the one thing that strikes us after each session we do, whatever level you are at, you can always still improve. That goes for us as coaches too!



What are you talking about?

The one area that fascinates the dart players we meet is the psychological side of the sport. The most visited area on our website is the sports science section and it is full of good advice. One of the most popular psychological skills to learn is positive self-talk.



Research shows that self-talk is a skill used by successful sports people as a way of coaching themselves during a performance and of motivating themselves too. We have worked with players who remind themselves vocally that it is the treble they want or give themselves a little reminder to help stay focused.

Regular readers of this article will have worked out by now that I do bang on about practice whenever I get the opportunity. Well here I go again. Research has also shown that self-talk works best if you use your key words during practice. Why? Because you start to form good habits; after a while the words you use will become a natural part of your preparation to throw. This way when you are in a match you will not have to think about this part of your game. There is enough going on in a match without having to think about talking to yourself!



Figure that out?

My colleague Andrew Humphrey demonstrated to some of our clients recently how misleading the 3 dart average can be. He gave examples of a player with an average of 83.50 winning the leg over a 93.93 average and a similar scenario of 100.2 beating 115.61. Of course who threw first was the answer to the riddle but how many times have you heard players say, “how did I lose with an average like that?” Plenty of times? Yes me too!

The 3 dart average is the darts statistic of choice but it’s not a friend of ours when we try to assess the true ability of a player. For example, even with our sports science qualifications behind us and a powerful computer we can’t tell which part of the game was the key reason for whatever average a player scored; was it high scoring but poor finishing or was it the other way around?

We break a game of darts into three phases to help us understand how a player has performed:

Phase 1 – The first 9 darts – This is the crucial scoring phase of the game.

Phase 2 – Reaching 170 or fewer. This is the phase of the game where a player uses their brain as well as their darts. A “clever player” will be planning their route to the checkout which will give them the best percentage chance of checking out.

Phase 3 -The checkout – hitting the double. This is the phase where the leg is literally won or lost.



There are numerous benefits to having this data on your performance. However, the most important is it can help you plan your practice schedule. Yes it is the P word again but how else are you going to play better darts without practising? More importantly how else are you going to improve unless you know what areas you need to focus on. If you don’t you will always remain an average player!   





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. 

We also offer group coaching days  and we will shortly be arriving at a darts centre near you for one on one video analysis sessions - please register for free to join our mailing list to find out when and where we will be.

Author: Paul Gillings and Andrew Humphrey ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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