Darts coach: tips for good tournament prep
The 5 P’s (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance)
Everyone has an opinion on how and why things should be done before an event.
Even now, I occasionally lose sleep and stress about upcoming events (even local tournaments) and often try and self-sabotage before, during and after the event.
I remember my best performance at a tournament where there were multiple times I wanted to tap-out or quit throughout the day, though most were before play.
Granted there are several personal traits contributing to these thoughts, however, I was bold enough to ask the question of many colleagues throughout my career to hear they experience the same thing up until the time they gain a substantial degree of comfort playing at the level.
I said in a previous post I was not much of a physical practice person, but when it comes to the mental game, I catch up to the field. Preparation was my biggest weapon.
While most people talk about mentally preparing a day or two before the event, mine starts a month before I toe the oche.
From what I eat, to how I sleep and as far as understanding what amenities the hotel offers if it’s critical to my preparation, I am prepared.
I begin a series of dietary changes and stretching routines designed and feeding my body the correct fuels to last long days. I recommend changing your diet to manage energy levels for the expected duration of play. A comp night won’t need much, while a weekend tournament where you could be at the venue for 10 hours a day will place a lot of stress on the body.
Diets are individual, so eat what’s right for you and I defiantly recommend seeking support from your GP or health professional.
If you can add some potassium it will be a bonus. (Read potassium interaction with synapse)
Stretching is important and something I wish more people did before tournaments, as the game itself is all about the ability to successfully repeat a process.
Muscles you actively use outside of your throwing arm include your lower back, quads, calves, shoulder, chest and neck. When you fatigue at the end of long days, it usually isn’t your throwing arm that’s the first thing to go.
The last part of preparation (at least 1 month prior to the event) was to find out where I was staying and plan what I needed.
- How am I getting to the accommodation the day of or day before?
- Does the accommodation have Wi-Fi, if so, what limits / can I purchase more.
- Is there a fridge.
- Where am I planning to have meals?
- Closest shop.
- How far away is the venue from where I’m staying?
- Transport to the venue.
- Transport home.
With this information, I knew what time I was getting out of bed each morning, had travel arrangements sorted and knew how I was going to fill my mornings to maximize preparation.
Wake up at 6 am, shower and dressed.
TV on as I working on breathing from 6:30-7:30am.
Breakfast or small bite between 7:30 and 8 am.
8-8:30 am, prepare the mental preparations including more breathing management, starting my positive reinforcement processes.
When I get home, I know where food is, what I am going to eat and have enough water on hand to rehydrate.
The night before, I would always attend the venue where I could. I always had my exit strategies and knew where the amenities were relevant to the day.
I would also ask what food would be available, to ensure my eating plan was consistent through the weekend and didn’t bottom out after the first or second day.
A travel dartboard is always a great idea and something I took with me everywhere, though there are often times I wouldn’t use it at all.
If I was watching my shows on the tablet or cooking breakfast, if I hit a positive mindset or felt good, I would have a couple of shots. The aim was to attribute throwing to a positive mindset and try to set the tone for the day.
With all the preplanning done, I could focus on playing darts in the knowledge I am mentally and physically prepared for the tournament.
With fewer surprises or organisation required, I didn’t have to waste time and energy dealing with standard issues and was able to be at my board on time and well prepared. I would get through my match with enough water on the table.
It is worth remembering to manage your food and drink consumption throughout the day.
After eating a big meal, you can feel heavy on the oche, while eating small snacks throughout the day will help balance energy levels and keep you feeling energetic on the oche.
Feeling full or heavy on the oche saps your energy and will ultimately impact your concentration levels.