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"What can possibly go wrong"? How to avoid some of the pitfalls of tournament play!

Coaching Clinic 28

Posted: 23.11.13 in Coaching Clinic Blog category

"What can possibly go wrong"? How to avoid some of the pitfalls of tournament play!



Last month we discussed preparing properly for tournaments and in particular suggesting that the preparation countdown for players for our tournament The New Forest Masters in November should have started already.

We then posed the question for any player that had prepared properly -“what can possibly go wrong”?

Where do we start?

Anxiety and Nerves! In Kremer& Moran’s excellent book Pure Sport they have some thoughts all dart players will respect. First of all nerves can hit you only in specific circumstances, for example when someone shouts “game on” or just before or perhaps a long time before the game starts. But for others nerves are a common part of their life, each day they are confronted with nerves whilst undertaking “everyday life”. Can you distinguish yourself from one type or the other?

There are also two distinct aspects of anxiety. There are worries that are in the mind that bring doubts and pessimistic predictions of the future for example. There is also bodily anxiety, rapid heartbeat and feeling highly charged or over excited. Each of these brings their own issues for dart players. It can bring on tightening of the muscles in the throwing arm, a negative response to poor shots and dwindling confidence..

The best way to deal with this is to have a relaxation strategy. A simple one is to close your eyes and put your thumb over your pulse on your wrist. Then, think about what stresses you out and feel your pulse rising.  Then think of something that relaxes you-a favourite holiday spot, your seat in your garden, whatever! You should then feel your pulse revert back to a more normal pace. Just like hitting your doubles though you need to practise this!

How Did I Lose That Leg?

One of my favourite “articles” that I have written was the Darts Performance Centre darting philosophy that was created right at the start of the website. I borrowed a lot of the ideas from a golf psychologist and expert coach Bob Rotella. Part of the Darts Performance Centre philosophy goes like this:

“I will refuse to allow anything that happens on the oche today bother me or upset me. I will accept bounce outs, misses and mistakes. I am going to be in a good mood and a great state of mind for the whole match. I will enjoy playing”.

Does that sound a little “tree hugging” to you? It shouldn’t! You cannot change what happened in the last leg! You can change what happens in the next if you forget about a daft mistake or a spot of bad luck and focus 100% on throwing your next dart!

You can download a copy of our philosophy for free by registering with us here!


There I said it! Alcohol! Let’s face it most dart players feel they need a beer or three to play better darts. Hmm, another argument is that it is an ingrained habit but we will discuss that another time. Too much alcohol will have a detrimental effect on your performance. It increases the risk of dehydration and it will be detrimental to your decision making process. If your game is on later in the afternoon, pace yourself!


How many of you have experienced getting through a few rounds and then seemingly losing strength? Look at what you are eating. You need food that will sustain you through the day. Weetabix or porridge, fruit and wholemeal bread rather than bacon and eggs for breakfast! Snack on flapjacks that are full of natural ingredients rather than processed chocolate bars. You have to keep your energy levels up and water rather than fizzy drinks will keep dehydration at bay.

See you at the New Forest Masters-what can possibly go wrong for you now?

The New Forest Masters is being held in New Milton in Hampshire on 23 November – Full details on our website-


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 )

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