By Anne Kramer
It's a relatively unknown entity. It's hard to teach and even more difficult to obtain. Most people mistake it for arrogance. Only a chosen few are lucky enough to experience it. Once it is recognized, it can be intimidating to another player. What is this mysterious thing that so many crave? Confidence.
It's been my experience that the more confidence you have, the more dominating a player you can be regardless of your skill level. Obviously some skill is involved, but the trick is to be comfortable with your own skill level. You know what you can do and you know your own talent. We all often joke with the same old line that darts is 10% talent and 90% mental. The mental aspect of your play can vary and affect your game in a multitude of ways. You are nervous knowing you have to hit a game winning shot. Your brain transmits this to the rest of your body, and next thing you know, you are shaking like a leaf in a storm. So how does one overcome these physical obstacles in order to become more confident in yourself and your game?
Practice is always a good start. Proper mechanics and being comfortable with your throw are a couple of the ways. Being fluent on your outs is another. You should not have to stop and think of what to shoot at. I was once given a great piece of advice. I was told that during a match, if I could manage to be consistent enough to hit three fat 20's on every turn and know my outs, I would probably beat about 90% of the female players in this country. To this day, I stick to this advice and depending on whom I am playing, it really does work.
Another aspect that players fail to understand the effects of, is the dreaded board call. We've all been there. Your name called against one of the top players. You moan and groan about the call. You think about what you are going to do for the rest of the afternoon once you are done with the match. You drag yourself to the board with the hopes that the top player doesn't beat you up too bad. And of course, it's no big surprise to you that you lost. Why? Because you lost the match as soon as you heard the board call. You never even gave yourself a chance to give it your all. And don't think that that top player is not using this to their advantage. They know their abilities; they have confidence! They know they intimidate you in this situation. They are holding all the cards and just have to play a steady match to beat you, while you are killing yourself to hit 180's on every turn because you think this is what it will take to beat this type of player. Meanwhile, the top player is doing the same as me - hitting three fat 20's per round to win the match.
Of course, the easiest way to gain confidence in yourself as a player and your game, and to take your first steps towards greatness, is your dedication to practice. The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call "deliberate practice." It is an activity that is explicitly intended to improve performance, to reach for objectives just beyond one's level of competence, which provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition. For most people, practice is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done. That's the way it must be. If great performance were easy, it wouldn't be rare. Maybe we can't expect most people to achieve greatness. It's just too demanding. "There are countless ways of attaining greatness, but any road to reaching one's maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity."
But the amazing news is that greatness isn't reserved for a select few or the chosen ones. It is available to you and to everyone. So until next time, see you at the oche!
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