Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mastering the Dart Arts

I recently came across something that hit me like a ton of bricks causing a paradigm shift about learning and applying such things as the dart arts, i.e., how to stand, throw, score and master darts. It may not come to you when you play the video but contemplate what is being said and taught because it is the very secret to the performance in the dart arts.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Perspective: Reference Points

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

When I started back up in the dart arts I still held no real perspective as to my abilities, i.e., in those days with no Youtube you only saw Darts played on certain sports channels or you observed players at local and intermediate tournaments. If you didn’t play well and were taken out early you often, as I did, left and headed home. 

Sometimes you become frustrated especially when three darts hit hight scores and the immediate followup three hit something like 44 points, i.e., one twenty, one trip one and a single one. I can’t tell you how many times I got angry with myself and could not figure out the why to how the darts would fly.

Well, today, as a newbie boot darter I have way more reference points to observe in order to get a better perspective on my dart ability as it stands with other players and especially the professional top dart artists in the world. How you might say? Well, as we are all aware there is way more material and references out there due to the techno-revolution we live in at this time, this moment. 

As a part of my practice I put my highest dart score in a picture, thank you for cell camera’s, and put it on my cell phone desktop to see every time I answer my phone then I put my email in to the PDC site to receive notification of top player youtube video’s so I can watch how the top players actually toss darts.

One guy many years ago said the sports folks often cut out the bad dart throws and only presented the best but today the full video’s are presented for our viewing pleasure and you can readily see those top ten players throw awesome darts interspersed every now and then with some really low scoring poor darts. In short, they are pretty much just like me and my fellow dart artists but with two distinct differences, i.e., first, they have developed greater consistency in throwing great throws with the fewest bad darts; two, they are able to demonstrate both a math ability and a set of steel nerves playing tournaments to include those played in front of hundreds in the audience and millions via media like television.

Yes, there are some other traits they develop that put them at the master dart arts levels but these two stand out for me. When I now throw good ones then some bad ones I have heart and confidence that what I am doing is normal and along with integrity, discipline and hard practice those darts are normal and I will improve, etc. 

In short, the frustration and disappointment now are so low, and mostly rare in expression, feeling and stresses, that I throw, ignore the bad and then come back and throw good again. It allows me a certain mind-state that lessons the stress-conditions of my throws in competition and allows me a calmer dart attitude, a good start. 

Being able to see that your darts are not all that far away from what is normal darts for everyone at every level then you can focus on achieving a mastery level that puts you up there with the few who achieve such goals, i.e., all things are possible; all players endure the same things; all players have the same potential. 

Use the material you have available to see, feel and toss good darts so you can understand that things are not even close to being as bad as they use to seem - to me and my mind anyway. 

Get some perspective from reference points of fellow players, others and the professionals/master darters. All part of getting the game on!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Maddening Dart Arts (Where is darts today)

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

It is maddening and complex and simple and just plain frustrating but it is the dart arts. Darts in America are often thought of as a “game” played by lower class manual labor types who use it as a means or excuse to drink, smoke and haphazardly play a simple child’s game. Alas, this is so far off the mark that it is … wait for it … MaddenING!

Darts are considered a Olympic Qualified Sport, i.e., possibly able to get the Olympic Committee to consider it as an Olympic Sport in 2024 … but until then, what?

Lets get back to basics, darts can be maddening and frustrating because to play the sport requires so many variables that just one can throw off one’s aim to miss a high score for a low score of say one point or five points vs. twenty. I can tell you, personally, that one of my greatest frustrations is when I practice and score high then transition to a game or competition then end up throwing really bad darts with intermittent good ones. Grrrrrr, maddening!

If you take the time to read some of the other articles in this blog you can get a sense of the complexities and strategies and tactics involved in the dart arts. To give an example an article long ago tried to explain this concept in the dart arts, I quote, “Darts players face strategic decisions on virtually every throw, and they need to subtract with calculator quickness to determine the proper number to aim for. Beyond that, each championship-level match is psychological, as in tennis or golf, in which the one who succumbs to pressure first usually loses.” - NYTimes, dtd February 1, 1985

Today, American Darts seems to me to be stagnate and possibly in decline. In Europe, where darts attract a large audience and provide large purses, darts is on sport television and the game of choice is 501, both single-on and double-on games. Here in the U.S. the game of choice seems to be Cricket with 301 being a kind of middle game where Americans play all three - best two out of three - for tournament and league competition. The Europeans play much longer and more legs and matches/sets (player must win a number of sets composed of a number of legs, to win a match) to win place as to what the consider “World Champion Darts.” 

I actually watch the matches from sky-sport television when they are released on PDC’s Youtube site. One winner, after twelve hours of play, finally won the competition with first place. Now, that is twelve hours of play with appropriate breaks between either matches or a set of legs, etc. That is a physical and psychological challenge to say the least.

Then as the quote describes, a player must not just master the art of the dart throw but develop and implement proper strategic abilities and decisions on the fly, i.e., at every dart thrown, mathematically calculate also on the fly and then remain accurate in the throw while dealing with adrenal stress-conditions and effects (explained in other articles on this blog). 

The real challenge is for an observer to perceive the challenge and difficulty of the dart arts because, on the surface, it seems easy enough. After all, the made a game for kids. Note: that game never caught on because it was never accepted that the game is difficult so when kids fail to do well even after playing for a while and practicing is because they could NOT hit the target. 

Even adults will scoff until they actually pick up a set of darts, stand at the oche line and toss them at a target. They assume that it is just about hitting the bulls but fail to see that if so why have all those pies and scores and both the double and triple rings, etc. If it were like archery then you have the rings and bull with a goal of hitting as close to the bull as possible BUT in the dart arts you have to play the long game, score high points, then the short game, hit a three dart out combination or close out the 20’s, 19’s, 18’s, 17’s, 16’s and 15’s by hitting three darts in the pie or one dart in the triple or one dart in the double and one in the pie. Oh, and remember that until closed either darter can hit a closed score area to earn points that an opponent must exceed while closing out that number, etc. See, even this terse and simplistic explanation of the games gives the impression that it is not just a kids game, it is a sport and an art.

Oh, add in also that in 301, and some 501 games, you have to ‘double in score’ to start scoring, i.e., to begin scoring you first have to hit a double ring score to start. Double out is standard in all 501 and 301 games. It creates a great deal of adrenal-stress-conditioned effects that overall change the way the game is played.

So, you see, at least initially and fundamentally, that the sport/art of darts takes a lot of training, practice and playing to achieve some semblance of expertise that leads to winning. It takes a consistent, disciplined and psychological toughness to play well, to throw well and to score well enough to place let alone win league and tournament competitions. 

I spent some time recently returning to the game and with the evolution of the Internet I found it disturbing and disappointing that the dart arts here in the America’s has lost ground and interest. I am witnessing more and more loss of players with no potential new players taking up the game. I also feel that the techno-evolution that is happening today is taking away the challenges of darts for the more exciting and satisfying and gratifying video games played on TV’s, Computers, iPads, Laptops, and cell phones. The only redeeming quality is perceived as the actual gathering together of real human beings, in person, standing up and playing the sport of darts but then the convenience of playing some video game alone or on-line against others seems gratifying yet there is seldom a gathering of actual humans who can see one another, talk with one another, get a social connection with one another and then communicating at a level still unobtainable through technology, i.e., facebook, twitter and other social media software systems. 

There is something, to me, more tactile and visceral that one gets from close social human contact even in the type of dart arts played, i.e., steel tip darts vs. soft tip electronic games. Hmmm, another article on the steel vs. soft-tip?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mental Strength

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In recent reviews of the best of darts matches for 2016 it has become clear just how much mental strength is to the dart arts. Yes, strength is not exactly the best term to describe the mind-state and mind-set necessary to achieve great darts so I will try to describe what it is that makes for, “Mental strength.”

The greatest obstacle that the dart artists must train for is, “Adrenal triggered stress-conditions of competition.” Lets face it, most who throw darts can achieve a relatively good throw but what happens when the pressure is applied in competitions, especially against strangers and especially against known pro’s who have held high levels of darts then the stress builds and effects how we throw.

What are the effects of such mind stresses, “Loss of fine motor skills, anxiety, fear, palpitations or increased heart rates, sweating, nausea and possible vomiting, dizziness and tremors,” to name a few (spacial issues, auditory exclusion, etc.). They are the flight or fight get-r-done chemicals for human survival and they don’t help even a little when you play darts. 

When you get stressed the major adrenal stress condition in darts is loss of fine motor skills causing darts to fly off into the five or one pie. This brings us back to mind strength. Learning to overcome such stressors from the adrenal or chemical dump can be most difficult. It takes a certain mind-set or attitude of confidence to make it go away or at least manageable. To achieve a level of experience to achieve this goal means you need to practice a lot and you need to compete a lot in all sorts of venues from local pubs to larger sanctioned contests.  

It is also wise to remember that experience overcoming the effects of the chemical dump from other sources or triggers such as sport competitions does not mean that when you enter the arena and approach the ockey line you won’t still succumb to the dump, those are different triggers. Yes, it will help you to achieve that gaol faster but not as fast as flooding yourself with competitive experiences. It helps explain why some go through a long period of competitions to reach the majors, so to speak, of the dart arts. 

The Throw: (more … II) Arm, Elbow and Release

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

At throw set up make sure the dart is set at the same position every time, this is how to attain consistent throws. Top of the index finger is on the triple twenty much like the front site blade of a rifle. The circle formed by the thumb on the opposite of the dart can also be a rear sight aperture allowing you to perceive/see the dart board. 

The elbow must not drop and it must not rise up high, that changes the darts trajectory. The elbow also has to stay vertical, i.e., the forearm is vertical so that the hand and elbow are directly vertical to one another with the elbow stationary and pointing directly to the ground. 

The body and arm and elbow once in position should not move down or up, it remains stationary and the same each and every throw. Now, the release of the dart.

Once you throw, you must get a good extension with a follow through so the arm remains at the level of the elbow and the forearm extends completely while the hand also extends allowing the fingers to release at the appropriate apex of the throw and then the hand, fingers, etc., follow through toward the dart board target, in this example the triple twenty. 

Follow through requires the full extension of the arm, the hand and wrist my flow out toward the target, the fingers must release at the point or apex of the throw and then the hands and fingers follow through pointing to the target or continue, if that helps, till the fingers and hand rotate out to the target and slightly downward to complete the extension and follow through.