PART'S DARTS SIX
John Part completes his six installment practise series with 'Match Preparation', taking us through how to gear yourself up for the local pub match, or the big game in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
The final phase of practise comes on the day of, and directly before any real competition. Whether it is your weekly league match or the final of a world championship, you must prepare yourself both mentally and physically.
It is always beneficial to be well rested. This has more significance if you have to play in the morning. An early start can be especially important if there will not be a lot of boards to practise on. If you leave your warm-up too late you run the risk of sharing a board with several other people.
It is quite difficult to loosen up when you are throwing every four or five turns. It is best to show up early enough to have a board to yourself for twenty or thirty minutes. If you do get a good early warm-up make sure you do not sit to long before your match. Try to get five minutes on the board every so often.
Think of it like stirring a pot.
Sometimes it may be difficult to find an available board during the day. If this is the case you can still do arm stretches to keep your arm loose.
Extend your arm down from the shoulder and rotate it both ways,
stretching your muscles each way. Bending your wrist back and
forward as you stretch your arm will help to get more stretch. Any
time you feel tired or your arm tightening up, the stretching can be
Maybe the most important ingredient for success is your frame of mind. You want to be focussed and alert, yet calm. It is good to socialise because it will help you relax and settle in; but socialising should not occur to the neglect of physical warm-up. Often the best solution is to do both at once.
I find that cycling through the out shots is a great warm-up. One board with two or more players on it can challenge the adjacent board to a race from 81 to 120. this can be a fun distraction that actually helps you to prepare to focus on what might end up being your most crucial shots.
In most match situations the players are entitled to at least six warm-up darts, but if you are on the ball you can usually get several more shots. Be as aware as possible about when and where you are going to play.
Don't leave using the toilet to the last minute, thus squandering your prep time. Getting to the board early gives you an opportunity to become accustomed to the throw.
Always do your best to identify any problems with the throw. Is the board too high or too low? Does the board need to be turned? Is the oche the right distance? Is the lighting acceptable?
These questions should all be answered before the match starts. If there is a problem, fix it yourself, or alert the tournament staff.
If the problem cannot be rectified ask to be moved to another board. The last thing anyone needs is to be distracted throughout a match by something that easily could have been resolved beforehand.
My last piece of advice is to ignore all the practise darts before the match. Ignore your darts. Ignore your opponent's darts. Good or bad, they are meaningless.
What your opponent hits will often not reflect his match performance. Often I see an opponent hit a 180 warming up, who then struggles to score during the match. I've also seen it the other way around.
Do not let yourself fall prey to psychological game playing. Always focus on your next dart, not your last one.
Good luck and good darts.
Many thanks to John Part for his efforts in this series for www.planetdarts.co.uk