Category Archives: Conversations in Flight School

Flight Schooler’s last step

To a Flight Schooler Sent January 14, 2013

Comments from a Flight Schooler

“Here recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been playing the 10-ton drill so much that sometimes it’s just no problem. I was just curious if you had other drills at that difficulty level that you would recommend? “but I’ve started incorporating other games as well for the pressure side.”

Response from George S.

I’ve attached ‘C-9 Competing with yourself’ just to be sure you don’t start competing with yourself.

Comments from the Flight Schooler after his first win agains a ranked player

“have since started to play him regularly during the week which has really helped me with focus; I’m unable to replicate that
intensity (big surprise) and I was wondering if that’s usually the case with dart shooters or if that’s a sign of my sloppy practice. or just go back to the basics and it will come back real soon?”

Comments by George S.

Both of these indicate that what you need is more ranked players in your dart life, and more often. This is the third type of practice:
‘competition is practice for competition.’ You are beginning to experience a great thing in your dart life: you are running out of players who are good enough to make you sweat out a win. I suggest you consider playing challenge matches where you play someone a best of 51 (first to win 26). It looks as though you are ready, physically at least. Now you want to get your belief in your ability to outplay those who think they are better than you are, to be as good and reliable as your belief in your physical game. And the best way to do that is to compete.
And compete against the best you can find. I’m thinking that looking on the list of ranked players to find someone to play must allow you to feel very good about your game and the work you’ve put into it. I’m repeating myself with the ‘vB7 How good can you be’ attachment(I sent it to you before) but you may be ready to hear something in it that you weren’t ready for earlier. Same thing for ‘S4 The next level,’
attached. Flight School drills A1,A2,A3 are meant for perfecting your stroke, not for practice, and it sounds as though you have done that. A4 is meant for practice using your perfected stroke, and it sounds as though you are doing that too. It is now time for competing to perfect competing and it sounds as though you have begun that. From here out the sky is the limit and how well you control and maintain your focus is the thing at this point on. I have every confidence you will soon be on that list of ranked players.

Your cheerleader, George S.

A conversation with a new Flight Schooler-Improving

I have a couple of thoughts on your comments.

First one on “I’m having a hard time figuring out what I need to do. “  is that what you are experiencing is just normal. Your control of your stroke is erratic, as is to be expected, and one of the reasons is that you haven’t yet learned control of your focus, which is also to be expected. The physical part of delivering a dart to a dart board is not all that difficult but the part about span of attention is difficult. I’m guessing that for a couple of turns you have full focus, then after you’ve stuck a few darts where you want them, you shift into auto pilot. When you see the results of that – darts sprayed around – back comes your focus and the darts go back to behaving themselves. Your physical coordination does not leave you, it stays as it is, but your mind wanders without you knowing it. One of the things you are about with your practice is lengthening your span of attention. This is a critical thing about improving at darts. At first it is not so demanding because of the relatively big margin for error and that is what A1 is meant to help with.
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“Granted, I’ve only done this two nights so far, but I’m not sure that I can see it improving much on the accuracy, when the consistency is obviously not there.” This is you recognizing what I’ve said above and it brings me to my second thought. I mentioned before that you are on a journey; this is part of that. Expecting improvement in two days, at least improvement you can see, is a bit ambitious. You are improving with every dart you shoot but the increment of improvement is very small. Be patient with your self and after a few weeks of A1 you will find it easier to run through the drill. Don’t stress over not improving because you are improving. Usually the visable improvement shows up in what seems like all of a sudden but has been happening all along. An analogy I like is with children, those you don’t see regularly.  They walk in the door, you see the growth and are surprised by it. If you are around them every day you don’t notice the every day changes so what has been going on all along hits you all at once.
>
Perfecting your dart stroke will continue to be a long slow journey with what seems like binary spikes, or jumps, in improvement but is in reality something which is going on during every one of your practice sessions.
>
You are improving, you are getting better.

An exchange with a Flight Schooler

Hi George,
Well it’s been another 2 weeks and I’ve been working on A2. I picked  this routine up very quickly (1st attempt only took 44mins to complete) and have been adding numbers on mainly 25, T16, D12, D6 as these 4 numbers seem to come up regularly in games and I’m down to the 30mins mark even with the extra numbers.

My routine now consists of A1 (keeping with this one as it helps the big numbers), A7, A2 and then a few games against the PC opponent.

My Grouping and Accuracy are beyond belief now, so much so that I can almost visualize where the dart going is going to land in the board before I throw it. My 3 darts when thrown are almost in the same hole each time or if not 1 of the 3 is no more than 3mm away from the other 2. I’ve tried to introduce the rest of the team to Flight School as
well as they are amazed at how far my game has come over the last 4 – 6 weeks, so hopefully you’ll be getting some new customers very soon.:)
I never thought that a practice regime could improve my game by this much and we’re talking a good 20 points on what I was throwing at before. I’ve been consistently throwing above the 80 mark and last night in my singles after 24 darts (1001 game) had 96 left. Unfortunately the other guy took out 100 in 2 darts to finish with a 26 darter. However, that gave me a 113 average for the singles last night and both our team and theirs were amazed by both of us since he finished with a 115.5 average as well.

Thank you so much George, I’m enjoying my darts even more than I use to.
Yours, Chris.

On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 1:08 PM, challengegeo

I’m thrilled at your success. These kinds of successes really make Flight School so satisfying for me.
I’d like to ask a favor. May I publish what you’ve said here? I will not use your name, unless you want me to, it’s just that others can gain encouragement from your experience and I’d like to share it with the world.
Your happy friend in darts, George S.
ps – I find that darts is so personal, so private, in the practice part of it, that each person needs to make the commitment on their own, as you have.
Enjoyment comes from showing in public, as well as in private, what has been learned in private. Your enjoyment doubles when you enjoy solitary practice.

About how this works

A conversation with a Flight Schooler included this.

When you work with Flight School drills you will by necessity correct any flaws in your stroke simply by having to do that in order to finish the drills. If you are twisting your wrist enough to affect the flight path of the dart you will stop the twisting without paying much attention to the effort. This is how FS drills work. You correct flaws in order to finish the drill and you make the corrections without over analyzing everything. Over time your stroke becomes perfected without paying very much attention to the minutia involved. 

 

I think you may be getting the gist of what I suggest by this time. You have apparently been focusing on all the things which are distractions instead of the goal of your practice which is to finish the drill by sticking the darts in the targets. Just let yourself be yourself. There is no right way; there is no wrong way, only the way you do it. Read the basics part of A02 introduction again.
Same goes for how you grip the dart.  Don’t make the mistake of making this more difficult than it has to be. The best foundation is how you do it without thinking about it. Just “shoot the dart.”

A conversation about old dogs and new tricks

Improving your game after years of playing.

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010 5:35 AM
To: Gary Subject: Thanks for asking about FS
 

Thank you for your interest in Flight School. Please read the attached.

 

—– Original Message —–

From: Gary  

To: ‘George’

Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010, 3:18 PM Subject: RE: Thanks for asking about FS

Hi George;

Thanks for your prompt reply. I have purchased, but not yet received, Darts: Beginning to End. Are the practice drills mentioned in your e-mail attachment set out in the book?

I have been playing for over 20 years in leagues and tournaments. I am interested in learning how to improve my competition performance, particularly in tournaments against top level players.

Thanks, Gary

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent:
Saturday, September 11, 2010 5:02 PM

To: Gary Subject: Re: Thanks for asking about FS

Hi Gary, yes there is a chapter “DIY Flight School” and the drills and techniques are all there also, along with a whole bunch of other stuff I hope you find of interest. I’m around too; if you have specific somethings you think I may be able to help with.

I’ll wait until you get to go through B2E (my nickname) to see if you come up with anything.

And thank you for your interest in B2E, George S.

 

—– Original Message —–

From: Gary  

To: ‘George’

Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:43 PM Subject: RE: Thanks for asking about FS

 

Hi George; 

I received B2E today and began with the accuracy drill. I believe this will be very helpful to me and I thank you for your book and advice. I started out with 6 numbers and finished in 15 minuets. Therefore I will begin adding numbers as you suggest, aiming toward your standard of 14 numbers in 40 minuets.

 

Prior to B2E I used other practice methods I still find useful. I particularly like going around the clock on doubles, double down (sometimes called half-it and a variety of other names) and “29” developed by Bob Anderson (according to John Lowe). In your opinion is it harmful for me to use these other methods along with accuracy or should I keep at accuracy until I progress to the 10 ton drill? 

Thanks, Gary

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent:
Friday, September 17, 2010 6:57 AM

To: Gary Subject: Re: Thanks for asking about FS

 

I wouldn’t say your practice methods are ‘harmful’ but instead, un-necessary. In Chapter six of B2E I talk about distractions and competing with your self, and have Flight Schoolers comments on these things. I think this is really important as you will see.

Chapters five and six are meant to head off mistakes I’ve seen so many make and improve a person’s prowess at the game.

The tendency of many, if not most dart players is to jump right in and start practicing. Diving into chapter seven stuff is what quite a few do. That can lead to missing the prowess growth knowledge and understanding stuff which is beyond the physical act of shooting a dart. The chapters other than seven are where all that ‘stuff’ is written.

Let me know what you discover and what else I may help with.

George S.

 

—– Original Message —–

From: Gary

To: ‘George’

Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:00 PM

Subject: RE: Thanks for asking about FS

George,

I have now read ch. 1-9 of B2E and am practicing the grouping and accuracy drills. I find both helpful and am trying my best to adjust to the new practice routine. The most difficult challenges I am facing relate to competing with my self and focus/concentration. Sometimes during the accuracy drill I find my mind drifting to distractions involving the mechanics of my stance, grip and stoke instead of simply spot shooting and feeling my stroke.

Also I occasionally want to check my progress by playing 501 several times and checking my PPD average, playing SEWA practice games, etc.  When I do this it is difficult to resist trying to beat my personal best. I guess improvement in these areas will come with time.

Part of my challenge is associated with the fact I have been playing competitively for over 20 years and am already one of the better players in my 3 county area (e.g. I have represented my league in regional ADO 501 & Cricket events, won league titles and MVPs, local stuff like that).  I have been working on my grip, stance and stroke for many years in a continuing effort to improve. However, I know, from competing at tournaments against top level players and then watching those players advance to the later rounds of the tournament, that I am far from “good”. Accordingly I will keep at the drills suggested in B2E and see if I can make a break through to the next level.

Thanks again, Gary

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent:
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:02 PM

To: Gary Subject: Re: Thanks for asking about FS

Hi Gary, I know this is a new twist to the kind of practice most people are used to but in its simplicity lays its effectiveness.

A1 and A2 will smooth out your stroke and spot shooting will become a natural part of your focus of concentration as you continue to use them.

You may find that A4 is no longer necessary except as a warm up exercise before beginning A2. When you’re at A2 your darts will group as part of that practice regimen.

As you become used to not testing your self against your self and begin simply sticking a dart in a target you will gain an absolute knowledge that you will stick ‘this dart into that target’ or come bloody close, simply because you’ve done it so repetitively.

This phase of practice is quietly letting you know that shooting every dart the same is something you do and when you take this practice knowledge into competition (the third phase of practice) you will experience the results. 

I find no difficulty with playing a few games of 501 or SEWA practice games now and then since you understand what competing with your self is and how detrimental it is to your improvement. 

Also, recognizing how your stroke and dart delivery feels is not a bad thing, so long as you don’t dwell on it, since I believe that will be how you will ‘get it back’ when you go a bit off and that will get you through to the next round in competition.

Welcome to Flight School Gary, I know the next level is well within your reach. Please keep me in the loop; I’d like to be the first person to recognize there is a rising star on the PDC scene.

Your friend in darts, George S.

 

 

—– Original Message —–

From: Gary

To: ‘George’

Sent: Monday, September 27, 2010 1:29 PM

Subject: RE: Thanks for asking about FS

Hi George; 

I am continuing to follow the accuracy drill with success. I am doing 12 numbers (all doubles and triples as instructed) in about 35 to 40 minuets. I plan on continuing this practice routine, increasing to 14 or 15 numbers as I progress. 

In the foreseeable future I may move on to the ten ton drill. When I am ready do you recommend adding the ten ton drill to my accuracy routine, replacing accuracy with ten ton, or alternating these drills on different days? Considering the fact I do not have unlimited time to devote to practice, should I simply stick with accuracy for now and leave the ten ton drill alone? 

One of the constraints I face is the amount of time I can devote to practice. I read the section in B2E regarding sacrifice. I understand that the level of proficiency I achieve is directly related to the amount of practice I put in. I also recognize that there is a balance to be achieved between darts and the other things I want to do and have to do. With that in mind, I appreciate accuracy because I can predict the amount of time I will need to devote to practice and then allocate the time in my day. With the ten ton drill the amount of time needed to complete the drill is somewhat unpredictable (I tried the drill using only one number to get a feel for it).  

Thanks for your assistance, Gary

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent:
Monday, September 27, 2010 1:43 PM

To: Gary Subject: Re: Thanks for asking about FS

Great news, Gary, your progress with A2. I think A2 can forever be part of your practice since once you have your stroke perfected it will allow you to keep it sharp.

 A3, as you already found out, is a different animal. You can use this to raise your level of competence you have with your perfected stroke while you continue to keep it sharp with A2. You can still control the amount of time you spend at darts only now you’ll do it with how many numbers you set up. You’ll learn how long one number will take and will be able to work from there. A practice regimen that has the amount of A2 and A3 which you can finish within your available time should work out just fine.

Keep my in the loop please.

Your friend in darts, George S.

 

—– Original Message —–

From: Gary

To: ‘George’

Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 8:31 PM

Subject: RE: Thanks for asking about FS

 

Hi George;

Thanks again for flight school. I am now consistently doing 14 numbers on A2 (all double, triples and bull) in 30 to 35 minuets. I am really starting to feel improvement in my ability to hit a desired double or triple on demand. In fact, I expect to hit the required target as needed. I have been seeing improvement during league play, especially on out shots. Soon I will start incorporating A3 at some level into my practice routine.

What is your opinion of a champion’s choice board (1/2 wide doubles and triples) as a practice tool? Gary

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent:
Thursday, October 07, 2010 5:40 AM

To: Gary
Subject: Re: Thanks for asking about FS

I am not a fan of spending money which doesn’t need to be spent and that is how I feel about “practice” dart boards. If you are using the ‘spot shooting’ technique your target is already as small as you can make it. I don’t see an advantage to a smaller double/triple bed since the hole is the same size. Some believe it helps them see a larger target when they switch from the “practice” board to regulation but I’m of the opinion you should practice the way you’ll play.

Thanks for the update. Congratulations on your progress. I’m particularly pleased that you are enjoying competition more as a result of your practice work. Some struggle a bit taking practice habits into competition (emotional practice).

George S.

 

—– Original Message —–

From: Gary

To: ‘George’

Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 7:41 PM Subject: RE: Thanks for asking about FS

 

Hi George;

Well, I am still enjoying flight school and continue to progress with A2. I typically complete 15 numbers in 27 to 35 minuets.  I believe the most difficult challenge in achieving my goal is emotional practice. I live in a somewhat rural area and seldom get to play against good ADO tournament level competition.

In my prior communication to you I stated I have realized improvement during league play. However, although I am improving and winning, I notice that nerves during competition sometimes cause me not to play as well as I practice, particularly when my opponent is skilled and/or the stakes are high. It is more difficult for me to “put the dart in the hole” under such circumstances despite being able to do so in practice. Of course, I am aware this phenomenon is common. My opponents also have the same difficulty. And I have observed “wobbly knees syndrome” in some world class level players, especially when they play on stage against the likes of Phil Taylor, James Wade or Raymond Van Barneveld.

In your opinion, is consistent solitary practice the best way to improve at the emotional aspect of competition?

Thanks, Gary

 

From: George [mailto:challengegeo@comcast.net]
Sent:
Thursday, October 19, 2010 5:40 AM

To: Gary
Subject: Re: Thanks for asking about FS

Your control of your stroke is a very good thing, and I believe it comes from your work with A2. 

In response to your question “is consistent solitary practice the best way to improve at the emotional aspect of competition?”: You seem to have achieved the goal for A2: perfecting control of the flight path of your dart; so now A2 becomes a tool for maintaining your edge and you should be ready for A3.

The prerequisite for A3 is a perfected stroke and the goal of A3 is confidence in your ability to use your perfected stroke under pressure. I suggest you stay with A2 as you ease into A3. This is the best path to overcoming “wobbly knees syndrome” and being able to “put the dart in the hole” against the toughest competitors you can find.

As for shooting pressure darts, “I notice that nerves during competition sometimes cause me not to play as well as I practice, particularly when my opponent is skilled and/or the stakes are high.” What do you think causes you to miss: (1) is it because you are over excited? Or (2) is it because you are afraid of choking?

If it is due to (1): Being excited is why we play the game, isn’t it? Enjoy the tingling, the rush! I hope you never lose it! If it is (2): It would seem that you have a confidence problem. If that is the case, A3 along with A2, should let you work on fixing that. Take your practice attitude with you to the oche and shoot the shot just as you do every practice session. Your A2 and A3 practice will pull you through.

From “Beginning to End” of Flight School you are learning confidence in yourself in all aspects of the game. You gain confidence that you can score heavily and hit any out as well. Flight School will not take away from knowing you have a pressure shot to make but your work with it will give you the knowledge that you can hit that out, or triple, at any given time, taking away any fear you may have.

The more you play against better competition the more confidence you will gain in these pressure shots. Competition is practice for competition.

Your cheer leader and fan, George S.

 

 

A conversation with David Haines

From: David Haines

To: ‘George Silberzahn’

Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 11:43 AM

 

“Sorry, a couple of minor notes that will (possibly) be helpful in fixing me. J

 

When I’m on I feel that I have good follow through, when I’m off, I don’t.

When I’m off I miss low and lunge.

When I’m on, I am conscious of keeping my elbow up through the throw.”

 

From: George Silberzahn  
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 2:32 PM

On the 8th I sent you a message with attachments. I’m re-sending that Part 1 now, with the attachments.

 

From: George Silberzahn
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 7:28 PM
When you read Session 1 you will get my general belief as far as multiple sets of darts is concerned, and I’ll take a shot at what you’ve told me below.

 

Here’s what I hear you saying in your message of June 12, 11:43 AM and your response to Part 1: you are trying to compensate for inconsistency. Instead of concentrating on where you want to put a dart you might be spending too much energy thinking about how you are delivering the dart.  You may already be able to “feel” your stroke; and “know” your stroke. If so, you should be able to get it in line. I think you already have the dedication since you know you: have good follow through, miss low and lunge, am conscious of keeping my elbow up!”

 

I think it’s a discipline thing. When you are off there are two choices as I see it: accept it’s going to be a bad night or get your stroke back in line. 

I suspect your inconsistency can be fixed with the right practice routines, which I believe is “Group Darts” and “Accuracy.” Once you get into the “Accuracy” routine you will find that in order to complete a session you will have to correct what ever flaw you’re struggling with or you will be in front of the dart board when the funeral director comes for you. Over time this will diminish the periods when you are “off” by perfecting your stroke so it’s as natural as breathing.

It only took you nine months to learn how to breath in the beginning of you, but of course you didn’t have your concentration interrupted very much during that time.

“After 4 years of shooting with ‘magic’ darts, (literally bought them off a guy I was playing because from the first time I threw them I was noticeably better than I had been before) I decided, somehow, that I needed an equipment change. 5 sets later, I’m changing all over the place.

Two weeks ago I had Jeff Pickup make me a set that are the same basic shape (pencil) and weight (roughly 23.5) as my old darts, but DEAD smooth and with a small notch where my finger and thumb go toward the back of the dart.  These may end up just being my practice darts – here’s what I like about them – If I do not cock my wrist on the throw, I cannot hit the board with them. As long as my form is on, they are on the money – no compromises”.

It’s like I said above: another nine months may be called for. But pick the dart that you’re taking with you and stick with it. That thought: “I wonder if I’d be playing better if I had that other set of darts” will kill you! Get rid of it, it’s a distraction of the biggest kind.

“Conversely, I can throw my 25 g John Parts and always be close, but never feel like I’m having the highs and lows I get with these.

I leave myself in your hands, sorry for going on.”

As I wrote in Session 1, and everywhere else, a dart combination is just an object and it does not change. Once you have a combination which allows the dart to stick straight out of the dart board you are done experimenting with darts and combinations except in very rare situations like life changing events, this includes the march of time, or you just want new darts. Baring those exceptions it is time to either accept your inconsistency, or do something about it. So the things you are describing may not be dart related, they may be David related. When you pick up a new set of darts you center your focus on all the right things as you “test drive” the darts, but as you get used to them you revert to your old self, with an inconsistent stroke.

I hope I’m not being too harsh. Your friend in darts, George S

 

From: David Haines

To: ‘George Silberzahn’

Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 4:59 PM

Thanks George,

No, you’re not being too harsh, I can handle it.

Let me know what I have to do next…

David

 

From: David Haines

To: ‘George Silberzahn’

Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2007 9:23 AM

 

Thanks George,

Yes, I’ve read through those sections and they are both helpful and reinforcing.  

David

 

From: George Silberzahn

Sent: June-13-07 8:42 PM
Hey, it’s me again. This time with some drills.

 

From: David Haines

To: ‘George Silberzahn’

Sent: 2009

George, Hi.

It’s me, David Haines again.  I attached our previous conversation, from like 2 years ago, for reference.

 

The purpose of this note is just to thank you for all your help. I’ve implemented many of your recommendations regarding release and stroke, got off my issues (for the most part) with equipment experimentation and knuckled down with a slightly modified version of the Accuracy drill at the centre of my dart training.

 

While I hadn’t had as much time as I would have liked to practice over the past year, I did continue to work on things, with a special focus on “spot shooting” and accuracy, as well as a determined effort of self-analysis when it comes to winning, losing, and handling pressure.

 

While my progress was gradual for much of this time, with the usual fits and starts that can be expected, I did achieve a very real breakthrough a couple of months ago, and this has been massively evident in my play, my confidence, my ability to perform under pressure, and my league and tournament results.

 

I’ve gone from being a good A player to being somewhat more than that. Certainly not a Provincial threat at this point, but good enough to knock off seriously talented players in short format games.  In long format matches, players who would consistently win 70 percent or more against me are often left packing their darts and wondering what the heck happened.

 

In tournament play, I am finding myself reasonably relaxed, as opposed to a bundle of nerves. This is because I KNOW I can hit that target if I just focus on it.  When I get my mechanics out of my head, look at the target and just let fly, the results are there, more or less.

 

At this point I’ve been invited into super level leagues and higher level local tournaments. This is a real achievement for me and is opening the door for further improvement. I would not have been a candidate for this a few years ago.  The challenge now will be upping my practice level, and my game, without getting stale or discouraged.

 

I don’t say these things to brag, George, just to say “thanks.”

 

Hey, I know I was the one who did the work, but you provided me with some excellent direction, and I appreciate it.

Thanks again, David

 

From: David Haines 
Sent:
To: ‘George Silberzahn’

July-09-2010 9:14 AM

For an update,

My game is continuing to progress. I continue to use the accuracy drill(A2) and the 10 ton drill(A3), and it has helped my concentration and game ability. My results in practice and in competitive situations continue to improve as I’ve moved past being self conscious and overly analytical at the line into really believing that I’m going to hit the target, then going ahead and hitting it.

 

Now that I don’t compete with myself, my ppd’s and winning percentages continue to improve because my practice is pretty much ALWAYS productive.  My concentration on doubles in the accuracy drill is paying massive dividends in match play, and I look forward to seeing how far FS and my own work can take me.

Thanks again, David