Quality Knowledge + Quality Equipment + Quality Conditioning – Increases Performance at the optimum rate. This is the section where a person can quickly, learn to throw a dart consistently, and accurately if they follow the procedures stated below!
Conditioning is the method by which excellence is regulated. The presence of both quality knowledge and quality equipment, must pre-exist with a shooter in order to achieve the optimum rate of increasing ones performance. As the quality of conditioning increases, so does the rate at which a shooter will become more consistent and then confident! If you don’t put sufficient time into excellence driven conditioning (goal oriented designed practice and playing regularly against competitors that have a higher consistency/performance level than yours), then, your end result is going to be inconsistency in your dart performance, which will thus, consequentially, produce an unstable confidence level as well. This is the period of time where shooters, with obvious signs of talent, need to be nurtured during this process so that they are not overwhelmed to the point where their spirit is diminished. We as individuals, cannot be objective, when it comes to judging our abilities, weaknesses, performance, or our future goals, and then on top of all of that, then be expected to know what direction to take there after, and the manner in which to take it. I am truly surprised that more professional darts shooters don’t have personal coaches. Even the best chess players today, have not only personal chess coaches, but they also have physical trainers as well.
In darts, you need to make every dart count as if it were your last. In most situations where you are losing considerably, three well placed darts could certainly almost help you catch up and definitely obtain a decisive psychological advantage. You don’t actually want to experience this situation habitually, but if it does occur often, it is a tell tale sign that you need more quality practice time. Psychological advantages are most beneficial because they inspire shooters, both good and bad, and at the same time, they stir up their opponent’s underlying fears and doubts that linger just below the surface of their conscious mind.
By staying well conditioned and ahead in scoring, through out the course of your games, your opponents will feel your perseverance much in the same way a boa constrictor exerts his method of operation (M. O.). Bobby Fisher use to pride himself of being able to actually hear the sound of his opponent’s ego breaking. Strangely, there are a lot of people out there that think chess is a game for the weak. On the contrary, chess is the most brutal game today because it’s sole purpose is to crush their opponents, both physically and mentally.
Starting in Darts
If you have never played, or if you have played for a while but never put some steady time into the sport, then your problem is going to be your arm initially. You could take the old approach and just play and practice, but there is an alternative solution that would greatly shorten your “down time.” When I refer to down time, I am referring to the point in time when you are in performance purgatory. During this time, you might be either not learning anything, not practicing (goal oriented), not playing (hopefully not) and worst of all, not caring! It is this down time that will destroy players that might perhaps, have some talent. If you are serious about advancing as a darts shooter, avoid this down time like the plague, because if you don’t the plague will definitely kill your spirit and then your game in that order!
To have any success in darts, one first, needs to “develop” their throw. DartSmarts.com currently has three training devices in our catalog that will speed up this development stage while maintaining consistency and quality.
The first device to use should be the Grouping Trainer. Whether you are male or female, your arm is not going to be “educated” as to the style of throw that should be used. Initially, you don’t want to put a lot of force into the throw, although you might see some strong shooters using that style. You must realize that you are as not ready for something like that just as 13 year olds aren’t ready, physically, for pitching serious curve balls. What you want to do, is to condition your arm to making similar repetitive throwing motions. In using the Grouping Trainer, it isn’t the force that is important as it is the relaxed, controlled motion that you want to develop and then increase the speed of that arm motion. Please note here that you should angle the ring so that the bottom of it is pointing at your feet. This is so that it will accommodate the natural angle of the darts trajectory and actually allow you to relax more which is one of the main goals of this exercise! Another thing that you should do is start using the ring on the bottom half of the board. The higher the shot, the more difficult it is! When using the rings, never use the rings in the same place twice in a row!
By using the Grouping Trainer, the importance of hitting small targets is ignored for the sake of throwing 30 consecutive darts through a ring. If for some reason you should miss the ring, even if it is on your last dart, then you need to go back to square one and keep throwing until you get all thirty through the ring. The keys to success in this will come from relaxing and duplicating the same grip each time! If you have had some experience in basketball at the free-throw line, you might want to draw from that experience, because it is very similar!
Once you have accomplished throwing all thirty darts through the ring, you then, want to grow into the next smaller ring. If you find yourself getting a little tired and can’t seem to accomplish the goal in the same session, just throw three sets of darts through the ring leaving on a positive note and then come back to it in two days! Don’t make the mistake everyone does and try to practice every day. You need to let your muscles repair themselves!
The whole idea of the Grouping Trainer is to develop your dart’s trajectory from a high arch, to one that is considerably flatter. You at first will be throwing about 10 to 14 inches above your target. The second ring will bring you into a 7 to 10 inch range. The last ring will land you between a three and 7 inch range. Please note here that the arch is measured by where the dart leaves your fingers and where it lands in the board. In shooting at targets that are high on the board, such as the double 20, your dart will leave your hand very close to your body, and targets that are low on the board, such as the double 3, your dart will leave your hand closer to full extension!
Once you have thrown the thirty darts through the large ring, you then want to start with the training device called The Arm Master. As you put some time into the Grouping Trainers, you will notice that as you hold your dart hand in front of your eyes, your hand will feel unsteady as well as your entire arm will feel “shaky” as you are following through with your throw. By using the Arm Master, you will notice that your unsteady feeling will begin to disappear quickly, and what you then will notice is that your arm will begin to feel strong and you will have much more control with your throw’s follow through. It is then that you will get a good feeling of what it is like to have a well tuned arm! You can almost taste the consistency along with the accuracy. This is a sign that you are getting close to some proficiency!
Here’s some caution about using the Arm Master. The goal in darts is to stay fluid and not too strong. Accuracy will come from a controlled fluid movement and not strength! Don’t do more than one set of 15 extensions at a time. By doing this many, you will be able to do a maximum of two sets per day. I recommend, on non-dart days, one set in the morning and one at night. On competition days, I recommend that you do one set in the morning, then just before you do your pre-match practice, do your Darts Yoga, and the do a set of 15 extensions with the Arm Master, making sure that you do not have the elastic so stretched out that you have to literally strain yourself.
In doing the Arm Master extensions, you need to know three very important things. The first one is that extensions needs to be done as slow as possible, the second is that it is just as important that you retract the elastic slowly, and three, when you are extending the Arm Master’s dart, you should visualize a target in the distance as if you are actually throwing a dart at it. The best location for the Arm Master is directly behind the throwing line of your dart court. I have mine tied to the clothes bar in my closet. This is actually convenient for my morning set, but I also have a second one that is behind my throwing line also. The confident feeling it gives you is very nice!
Do not proceed with throwing at the board until you have gotten to the third ring. You don’t necessarily have had to complete the thirty darts through the third ring!
Perspective is everything! Looking at the dartboard with all the different targets and imagining the complexity of the many different “throws” there are, in order to be able to consistently hit all of them could certainly be overwhelming. However, if a person takes each step at a time and breaks the situation down, it might not be so difficult. If you first learn to throw a “straight” dart, you have just overcome half of your battle! After that, one would just need to be sensitive to the different levels of targets that would be required throughout the course of a typical game.
Getting it Straight!
Your next stage of training involves using a device that you have around your house and have not considered using, I’m sure! I’m talking about a piece of white string! Take about two feet of it and first tie one end to the numbers ring directly at the top of the board and then tie the other end to the bottom of the numbers ring so that the string is straight. This exercise involves shooting at the string. Stand directly in front of it, try and hit the string at any height, with your darts. The best thing you could do here is shoot the darts at different areas of the string, in other words, mix it up! If your point doesn’t hit it but the nose of the barrel would have, then give yourself one point! The next set of three darts should be shot at it from the right side, about a foot from where you stood initially. If you hit the string there, then give yourself two points for each hit. Now do the same from the left spot, or one foot to the left of the center spot. Out of one round, you could get a maximum of 15 points. Keep doing this until you obtain an average of 10, for ten sets of nine darts. This drill will have you throwing a dart straight quickly and from all angles!
In developing your throw for the last Grouping Trainer’s ring, you will find that you, by now, will start to get the feel for making it through the ring the harder that you throw, however, if you rush it without relaxing, the control will immediately disappear and you’ll miss. What we have been trying to accomplish here is a relaxed, controlled BUT strong throw! If you have gotten this far, you can feel it coming! Stay with it, don’t give up, but don’t over do it either! Be sensitive to what you are doing and what is happening. Become your own pupil, teacher, and above all learn to be “coachable” to yourself. Don’t listen to a bunch of “they says,” just listen to yourself!
The next stage of developing is becoming familiar with both the targets and the numbers that they represent! Just as rhythm is important in throwing, you also have a rhythm that pertains to the time it takes to throw all three of your darts. If you, stop and or pause in between darts because you are unsure of where to shoot next, then you are in trouble, just like the person standing on the line that looks at their first or second dart that has just fallen on the ground! Knowing what to shoot at is imperative to your overall rhythm. This is where darts becomes magical! If you put the thought in your head, it has a tendency to come true! If you think you won’t hit your target, you probably won’t! But, if you think to yourself, trip 18, double 18, double 16, then you will be pleasantly surprised that it does have a tendency to happen and often! It’s magic!