Darts coach: formulas for success

Written by
Emma Williams

Part One - Formulating a Plan

After sitting back and watching players, coaches and doing some coaching myself, there has been a noticeable shift in development expectations while coaching philosophy is unable to adapt to suit.

When working with aspiring players, it is assumed coaches can either shortcut the process using a formula Knowledge > (Time + Effort) or Replicate Successful Techniques = Success (Expectation).

In the space of 3 months, a player wants to be competitive at national levels, while still progressing at a similar rate to be world-class within two years.

Most of the expectation and ambition is gone as soon as I ask "what if you don't reach your goals in the timeframe?"

In many cases, players leave and don't come back, assuming I don't have faith in their ability.

Progress is a funny thing. My brother was a far more talented player than I ever was and, in many respects, still is. However, I worked harder and dedicated more time.

It took me 10 years to catch up to where he was after 4 years when he quit playing.

Even when I caught up, it was another 8 years before I found my groove as a player. As recent as 2013 I was only averaging around the 26 (78) points per dart mark and thought I was playing well.

I decided to chase that one moment. That 1 title I could hang my hat on and be happy with what I had done in darts, focusing all my energy toward achieving that goal.

In researching how I was going to do it, I became inspired by my high school hero, Michael Jordan, and how he approached anything he did.

I read the following quote;

"I approach everything step by step … I had always set short-term goals. As I look back, each one of the steps or successes led to the next one."

Reading more and more of Jordan's I started to build a series of formulas.

Knowledge is the first part of the puzzle. Understanding your body, technique and mental preparation is balanced against your equipment, environment and social factors.

(Time + Effort) = Knowledge

This is a perpetual formula, which will be described in later sessions, as Knowledge is never finite.

Formula 2 spawned from probably his most famous quote, featuring in TV ads.

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

(Knowledge + Opportunity) = Experience

In order to progress, you need the opportunity to play in formats and environments usually reserved for major events.

It is a common occurrence for players to play the biggest games of their careers in unfamiliar circumstances.

My first televised event came only a few weeks after playing a format longer than best of 5 and was also my first time playing on stage.

Unless you challenge your limits in bigger events, you will never understand your full potential. Additionally, it would be best if you had a bigger goal on the horizon to keep yourself motivated to succeed.

(Knowledge + Experience + Goals) = Motivation

The last formula is where a majority of players try to start from, and why ultimately a lot of players hinder their own goals through the absence of patience.

For Jordan, failure wasn't an option; it was an outcome.

"I can accept failure, and everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."

If you fail, there is a reason, which you need to identify, understand and overcome.

(Experience + Failure) = Resolve

You may have heard the term "Heart of a Champion", referring to athletes achieving the impossible. The people who dreamt big and achieved bigger.

Every one of them would have been pushing themselves to avoid the feeling of failing. A feeling you only learn through failure.

I represented Australia for 3 years, won silver in a World Cup Singles and some notable wins in my career. I also failed to make my stateside on the first three attempts, lost my first major final 6-0 and had one of the bottom 5 averages in the state trials at one time.

Not to say I was any player of great renown, but considering I was only after one win to hang my hat on, I did okay.

To sum up, in preparing for your darts journey ask yourself the question "what if you don't reach your goals in the timeframe?" the question isn't about your ability, it's about the time.

Do you have the right formula?

Expectation = (Knowledge + Experience + Motivation + Resolve)

EST 1970

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