Category Archives: Ramblings

Practice how long??

A Flight Schooler was charged up since he found F.S. and wanted to know how to set up the routine so he could practice for four or five hours a day. I explained my take is that unlike other practice schemes where really lengthy sessions can end up with a person just throwing darts, not working on perfecting the stroke Flight School keeps your attention. I explained how a couple of one hour sessions with F.S. drills (forty to seventy minutes each) with a break between them are a good length of time and will give him the opportunity to learn recovery from loss of focus.

Down Flight Schooler

A Flight Schooler was dejected with a poor showing following a stellar performance at a previous event.  I said this: Performance is not linear because you are a human being and are filled with inconsistency. Doing better and then worse is normal.

The first two steps to becoming as good as can be is to perfect your stroke so you can put the dart in the hole (physical practice) and know into which hole you want to put the dart (mental practice). Then it becomes doing it in front of everybody which is a whole ‘nuther thing I call emotional practice.

You are doing what is best for getting your emotional practice to move upward along your scale of competence.  All you need to do is be patient, look at your progress not your setbacks.

Losing doesn’t always reflect how well you play

Talking to a Flight Schooler I learned he lost in the first round of an LOD and lost some confidence along with the match. My question: You know how well you can put the dart in the hole during solitary physical practice, right? OK, so – did you do that during the test flight of your game in competition? We agreed he did. I continued: Now comes the third part of your practice: emotion. Practice for this comes from competing and you have just invested some valuable time in taking your practice ability for a test flight. Don’t get down on yourself because one match, a LOD at that, did not have the results you would like. Look back at how well you played. Were you putting the dart in the hole, or coming mighty close? Of course you were, is what my guess is. We agreed again.

How important is how your wrist is cocked?

A question in Flight School: How important is how your wrist is cocked before you begin your draw? Whether your wrist is cocked at the beginning of the draw or at the point when you pause briefly should not be of concern unless you suddenly find all your darts sticking differently, and that wasn’t a problem before.

A belief of Flight School: Everything good comes from the forward stroke, everything prior to that has very little to do with accuracy, unless something suddenly changes.

Like beauty, the pause in your stroke is in the eye of the dart shooter. Hold it just long enough to focus on the hole you want to put the dart in. The length of time you hold the pause changes to fit different situations. When you’re really on and popping ’em it’s relatively short but in pressure situations it can get longer. The thing is – don’t think about it, just let it happen, unless your darts suddenly begin sticking at odd angles, or low.

If this occurs try consciously cranking your wrist back and in line with your target spot at the pause point to see if that fixes the problem.

Practice “Good” and competition “Good”

 I talked with a Flight Schooler about realizing his potential. How using winning as a measure of his potential for winning even more really only shows how well he uses his ‘good’ in practice. We put into perspective how F.S. solitary physical practice builds his confidence for being able to “put the dart in the hole” which helps in his Emotional Practice and becomes his “good” in competition.

Elbow hurt?

I received a complaint from a Flight Schooler that his elbow hurts following a practice session. Not being qualified in any way to comment on medical stuff I responded this way:

Here’s my guess at what is happening. I suggest to anyone looking to develop a long stroke is that a long stroke may not be feasible for some people. I see some who exaggerate their ‘reach’ trying to force a long stroke and that makes their elbow flatten out beyond where it normally goes so this could be why you are experiencing pain. You are trying to force your arm to do the work which should be done by your wrist and fingers. Remember: a long stroke only feels long; the release of the dart occurs long before the extension of your arm and it only feels as though it occurs at the end of your reach (follow through).

A handful rather than how many

 

Measuring skill level in darts is becoming standardized. The standard for how well you play in soft tip is points per dart (PPD) for 01 and marks per round (MPR) for cricket. The standard in steel tip for both 01 and Cricket is the number of darts used. Using these measures is a good thing – mostly. I say mostly it’s a good thing because both Points Per Dart and Number Of Darts sometimes get in the way of playing the 01 game with strategic out shot thinking. There is another way of thinking and that is simply to get the score as low as possible.

 

My take goes like this. The measures for how well a person plays the game are centered on how many darts are used to finish a game which is a good gauge for comparing skill levels of one shooter vs. another, but there is a problem when that mind set gets confused with the race to a double in an Oh 1 game. The game is played three darts per turn not one dart per turn and there are times when this needs to be remembered. When a person thinks in terms of PPD they may forget the handful fact with the third dart and continue attempting to set up a one dart out for the next handful.

 

This shows up when the remaining score is in the range where a preferred out shot double may be reached by sticking a triple with the third dart but one of the first two sticks in a single. Many people will then abandon the T20 and search for a “set up triple” instead of staying with the T20, which will not set up a double.

 

This search for a “set up triple” is advisable for those who know out shot combinations well enough that they can make the switch with their last dart of a turn without upsetting their rhythm but sometimes “get the score down,” even for those shooters, would be the best option. Certainly lesser skilled players need to consider having this approach built into their pattern of play.

 

Most of the time “get the score down” thinking will end in a score of a ton, ton forty or ton eighty rather than what ever score would have been made to leave a double. The advantages of this “get the score down” thinking is that there is no change of pattern required during a turn and the probability of hitting a triple with that third dart increases.

 

This “get the score down” approach springs from my belief in pattern play where a shooter has standard targets for the last dart of a handful for every likely number and thinking on the oche’ is not required. I’ve no objective basis for suggesting a shooter is more likely to stick the T 20 than they are a set up triple, only belief based upon experience and observation.  

 

Leaving a score such as 37 or 59 when the person may have left 40 or 32 really doesn’t matter when you think in terms of handfuls of darts rather than number of darts.  

 

For some people, having a “free” dart to shoot at a large target like the single helps in a stress filled situation.

 

 

 

Mental Aspect of Darts

What is involved in the mental aspect of darts? Way too many things to talk about here but I can talk about one thing which falls into my description of the Mental part of darts.

 

First I need to define my view of Mental as part of the dart game. I use Mental as one of three types of practice. There is Solitary physical practice (develop/maintain a stroke); Mental practice (committing to memory the rules, strategies and out shot combinations involved in the game), and then there is Emotional practice (application of the first two types of practice to competition). I mention these because what I’m speaking of below is included in my Emotional practice.

 

What constitutes competing with your self? There are a number of ‘tells’ that will suggest you are competing with your self and I want to talk about one specific thing that seems to be unrecognized: Dealing with ‘flyers’. A flyer is a dart that sails off target as if it has a mind all its own.

 

Flyers are a part of every person’s dart game but the distance from the intended target and frequency of occurrence varies a whole bunch from level to level of expertise. The player/shooter’s response to a flyer is what I talk about here. 

 

I recently had an FS enrollee talk about one of his concerns. It was about being able to keep his darts in a group around his target. It seems this person was having ‘flyers’ pop up more often than was comfortable and then the rest of the handful followed the ‘flyer’. This had become such a distraction that the event was given a name: magnetic dart syndrome (MDS).

 My response began as: This is really a good thing; it’s just in a disguise so that it looks bad. 

What this says is that you have an innate stroke that repeats itself. That’s a good thing. If you stick with spot shooting your first dart you’ll find that eventually as the other two follow that first one they’ll all be together. Don’t mess with it – don’t concern yourself with it – let it happen – let it flow. Keep your concentration on the spot and let the darts fly where ever they will and they’ll eventually like being grouped close to each other, where you want them.

 

I recognized a very bad feature this person was allowing to occur.  This phenomenon appears most often during solitary practice and when a player/shooter is engaged in continually shooting only for the twenty. This is a form of practice which invites what I call number fatigue and happens to a player/shooter that plays Oh 1 exclusively, or nearly exclusively.

 

Very important thing: Trying to force darts to stop going where you do not want them to go is one of the things which will mess up your progress. It is an aspect of what I call competing with your self. Part of my definition of competing with your self is when you expect a result (hitting a target) and in response to a ‘flyer’ you demand of your self that you stop doing that, right then, and become fixated on preventing another ‘flyer’ from happening. When a ‘flyer’ shows up, if a player/shooter attempts to force their self to not shoot another ‘flyer’ it becomes a difficulty and their mental state gets worse. It becomes destructive. Competing with your self is a destructive mental part of darts and is something that causes a player/shooter to become distracted from improving their ability to stick the dart in the hole. Avoiding competing with your self, in this instance, will be a test of a player/shooter’s ability to control the urge to force darts to not be a ‘flyer’. Controlling this urge can be very difficult. The player/shooter needs to accept that there are ‘flyers’ in their game and also know that over time, using the correct practice routine (“Accuracy”), the distance from their target will decrease, as well as the frequency of the occurrence.

 

Why the “Accuracy” drill? The whole point of solitary practice is to learn to put the dart in the hole, no matter where the hole is located on the dart board. A player/shooter learns control of the path of the dart to the target object through repetition and restricting practice to one frame puts undue strain, through number fatigue, on the player/shooter’s ability to learn that control.

 

For those with this concern I suggest this: 

Anger and frustration can be a result of what I call target fatigue and that occurs most often when a player/shooter continually tries to stick all their darts into the twenty.

They need to concentrate on remaining calm and patient. Don’t get into thinking you can force the dart into the target. Accept this ‘flyer’ phenomenon as just a part of the way you play the game and that with proper practice it will slowly go away. Believe that all will be well if you just stick with finishing the tasks at hand and getting the job done.

 

Try thinking of your practice session as a job you have to do – like taking out the trash. Practice is not a contest or a test of your skill. It is just a list of tasks (targets to hit) that comprise a job that needs to be done and as you do the job (put the darts in the holes) time after time you will become better at doing it. Train yourself to be calm, patient, and believe that all will be well if you just stick with finishing the tasks at hand and getting the job done.

 

If you feel the anger beginning, take a break. Think about what you are doing to your self. The pressure you are putting on you and how that is inhibiting your enjoyment. Take a deep breath as you remind yourself that you are supposed to be having a good time.

 

 

 

Peanut butter & jelly in darts

Peanut butter & jelly in darts

 

As usual it was time for lunch. It happened at the same time every day, just part of the routine, but this day brought with it one of those flashes of recognition, of understanding, which comes along every so often.

 

All the guys who worked in the instrument shop; me too, grabbed lunch pails and took seats around the large table at the back of the shop. We were hungry and what there was to be found in that pail amounted to a pleasant surprise, sometimes. I found a thermos of soup, Ritz crackers and squares of cheese with which I could make little accompaniments for the soup. This break from the usual was a nice thing.

 

All except one found nothing remarkable enough to make any comment but this one guy muttered “peanut butter & jelly again,” which caught our attention. Another guy, seizing on an opportunity to bust on someone, as was the case all the time with this bunch, cracked: “Hey, hen pecked; you afraid to tell the little woman to pack something else? We all waited for the reply – it came – “I pack my own lunch.”  A silence fell like a pall. No one found anything to say that would add to how dumb this guy just said he was.

 

So, years and years later, with promotions and stuff, I had moved on and found my self working in Cleveland Ohio in a totally different environment. Not in a plant with regulated start, break, lunch and end times but with a territory to cover and tasks to complete. I’m driving on the Ohio Turnpike, it’s early afternoon, and I’m heading for Youngstown coming from Toledo to which I’d driven early that morning. These cities are at opposite sides of the state. I live in Cleveland, between the two cities? So I can cut down on travel time!? Here is another day which is going to be a long one, two hours to get to Toledo and three hours to get to Youngstown, then another hour to get home, damn, I think. Then, out of nowhere comes this recall of “peanut butter & jelly.” I say to myself – you make your own schedule, you a-hole. What’s the matter with you?? Okay, from that day on I have a category to put things which I do, did, to myself which makes my day worse or better and that category is: “peanut butter & jelly,”

 

What’s this have to do with darts? Distraction is what. I harp on eliminating things which distract from the goal of “put the dart in the hole.” It is part and parcel of Flight School. I read and hear players doing things which fit the peanut butter & jelly description all the time, and it drives me as crazy now as it did when I heard it at the lunch table and in the car in Ohio.

 

There are these folks who can’t leave a good thing alone. They get their stroke defined to the point where all they have to do use it enough, in the right practice scheme, to let it perfect it’s self and so continually improve how accurate they are with sticking the darts into the hole that’s in the target of choice. But do they do that? No, they pay attention to how they are holding the dart, the position of their elbow, how far back they draw the dart, whether the flight is aligned ‘right’, if they are uncurling their fingers enough or too much, are they leaning enough or to much, is their foot in the right position against the oche’ and on and on with the minutia. None of which adds a blasted thing to their consistent accuracy. In fact it distracts from focusing on “putting the dart in the hole” and becomes a peanut butter and jelly thing.

 

These people appear to need to chase some mythical perfection in form which has nothing to do; really, with how well and often they stick a dart into a ‘hole.’ This is just fine and dandy for compulsive obsessive types but does not a whit of good toward being as good as can be at the game of darts.

 

And that’s peanut butter & jelly in darts!!

 

 

What – me worry

What? Me Worry?

 

From George

 

OK, so you’re going to a tournament. And you’re not so sure of yourself.

 

If you’ve been using my suggested practice routine this is where it will show. The concentration it takes and the repeated times you’ve done it in practice should come to you no matter what game you are playing.

 

The advantages of steady, right and real practice should show when you need it. Too many people think hitting big or personal best scores while playing games and calling that practice is a good thing when it is really only feel good stuff. I think – anyway.

 

And – this is only one tournament. People have good days and bad ones and either way, this is just one time on the road to raising your game to higher levels. I hope you are nervous and excited, and practically tingling all over on the day of the thing. God how I miss that!!!!! 

 

Best of luck, make sure you let me know how it goes, please.