Youth Darts: raising the next generation of players
Youth Darts is the key to making sure our great game continues well past our generation. So how do you help inspire and teach young people to love the game and play it well? Thanks to Chris White and Scotty Burnett for their wisdom and advice on this one.
American pro darts player Scotty Burnett remembers when he got hooked. “I started playing darts with my father when I was around 16 years old. I was never involved in organised youth darts, I am not even sure it was available in my area back then. But my dad was excited I was interested in playing with him and friends in the garage.”
Although Scotty’s love of playing darts started with his dad, many other greats have risen from the ranks of various youth programmes. Youth Darts teaches many valuable lessons that go way beyond darts. Good sportsmanship and proper etiquette will go a long way in life, and taught at an early age will help in making sure our youth players can grow up to be successful adult players.
Starting kids young gives them an advantage because they learn how to think strategically about the game, not just the three darts in their hand. It helps them learn to do the math on the fly. It’s about remembering what they have left if the single or next pie triple is hit. The Camellia Classic Youth/Adult shoot is a good format to help the kids in taking their own outs. The kid throws the bull and alternates with the grown up. Once down below 100, the kids take over by themselves to bring the score down. They then need to hit the winning double. While it would be great to see more Youth singles events on the tournament calendar, what matters most is getting the kids involved and loving the game.
So, if your kids are keen to play, get them started the right way, by helping them develop good form – so they’re not spending the next 20 years trying to unlearn bad habits.
As someone who’s experienced in guiding the next generation, here’s Shot Pro Player Chris White with some tips. “Form and stance are the most common areas of coaching. I have coached many youths on their form by helping them identify a comfortable/natural grip and I remind them to keep the weight of their body on their front foot, leaning slightly forward with the back foot secure on the floor. The throwing action must be smooth with the same arm movement each time. Also, follow through with your arm pointing at the target on release.”
“A big part of getting into the zone is learning how to ignore distractions and focus on the intended target and block out all other distractions. I remind young players to stay relaxed under pressure because being nervous makes you anxious and your focus drops. They need to find ways to stay focused when under pressure, but that comes with experience.’
“Throwing darts at the board is not enough. Preparation is sometimes underestimated and neglected by many dart players, but it’s key to getting in the right headspace and staying focused. I even recommend getting as much sleep as possible the night before the tournament and having a good breakfast on the morning of the tournament, ‘cause your next meal might not be until that night.”
Chris is an active mentor for our Young Guns program.