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.




Leave a Reply