We all know that practice is what makes us better at hitting our targets, but throwing practice is not the sole key to success. I love to practice, I have a room dedicated to darts including three different types of boards depending on what kind of event I'm practicing for. I can spend many hours isolated in my practice room with tons of quality practice. Unfortunately that's only part one of preparing for a big event.
Now before I get too far into my steps to success, I know what your thinking. "Who is this guy and if he has the key to success why isn't he winning everything?" Well the best answer is that I have very little natural talent. I've had to work and practice very hard just to get to the level I'm at. I see success as progressive improvement, continually improving and never being complacent with your skill level. That is unless you get so good that you can consistently throw 9dart 501 games. Step 1: Spend quality time practicing alone to improve your game. Work on groupings, specific targets like T20, out shots and lastly real games. If my event includes 701 I make sure to practice that, not just 501. This practice session is your time to shine without any distractions so make the best of it. Step 2: Invite a friend over to practice with you. Setup a tournament type format and get comfortable with the pace of the games now that you have an opponent. If your practice partner is below your skill level give him some kind of advantage in points etc. to keep the games competitive; it's not helping you much if there is never pressure on you. Maybe even place a wager on who wins, loser buys dinner or drinks. Step 3: Step out of your comfort zone and play against people that are better than you or someone who can really challenge you. Attending local tournaments or Luck of The Draw events is a great way to put pressure on yourself and test your nerves. Remember, steps 1 & 2 prepared you for step three and now you have to execute under real world pressure. Work on step 1 several times a week for at least 40 minutes at a time. If you can practice longer for like two hours, it will really help as well. Just make sure to take a few short breaks; throwing for 2 hours without a break may cause you to get physically and mentally fatigued. Once or twice a week add steps 2 & 3 to your routine and before long you'll see some great results in your skill and confidence. Being confident in your skills is such a huge part of the mental side of the game and all the practice in the world is a waste if you're not confident in your game. Lastly it's important that you remain positive. Sometimes your practice will go really bad. That guy you barely ever lose to might just smash you on the night you thought you were going to win. Don't panic, keep practicing and stay calm. Losing is part of the game; use it to motivate yourself and let it light a fire inside of you to keep improving. Remember to be to Humble in Victory and Gracious in Defeat.
Best Regards, Rick Espinoza
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