Here's the scenario. One of your teammates shows up about two minutes before the scheduled start time of the match. He orders a drink, pulls out his darts, and throws three or four rounds of warm-ups. So not to delay the start of the match any further, he declares that he is ready. Throughout the first series of games, he his spending more time fiddling with his darts than anything else. First, he replaces a bent shaft. Second, he asks several other darters if they have any spare flights. After a dismal start, he states that he'll start throwing better when he gets warmed up.
During the next series of games, he splits a flight. The person that gave him the first flight is no longer present. He grabs any old flight. Now he has mismatched flights. He is really concerned about that. He is not sure that all three darts will fly the same way. He is trying to compensate for the odd dart to no avail. The frustration is starting to add up.
To make a long story short, he finally gets it together for the final game of the night. By then, it was almost too late. The team that he threw on squeaked by with the victory by one game. After the conclusion of the match, he apologized to his teammates saying that he really didn't get warmed up until the end of the match.
Is this scenario far fetched? In one simple word, no. This event actually happened several weeks ago to the team that I throw for. I'm sure that there are many people who have dealt with this same problem as well. What makes this scenario so frustrating is that this situation can easily be prevented. Darts is just like any other sport. Not only do you play in a sport, you must also prepare for it.
My preparation for any match or tournament begins about two hours before the scheduled start time. I take a few moments to check out the condition of my darts. I start at one end of the dart and work my way to the other end. This is what I check.
Another thing that I do is to ensure that I have enough spare parts in the event that I tear up any portion of my dart. I ensure that I have the following:
I try and arrive at the dart hall about 30 minutes prior to the match. This gives me ample time to put my 'game face' on and to warm up. The way I warm up is I spend the first 10 minutes loosening my arm. I just throw the darts somewhere near the bull. This is the same concept that a pitcher uses when warming up for a ball game. (To those of you who do not know of the game of baseball, I apologize for the reference. It's the best that I could come up with). Accuracy isn't important at this point. Getting the proper throwing motion is.
After loosening up the arm, I start and concentrate on hitting bulls. Since it is the center of the board, it is real easy to determine where you should be standing at the oche. It may take a few throws to determine exactly where to stand, but, since you arrived well before the start of the match, you will have the time to find it.
After that, I then begin concentration on the triples and the doubles. Since I now know (or at least I think I know) where my mark is, I should be able to hit these about as well as I am going to hit them all night. After a few minutes, if time permits, I try and work on some two dart outs (60 through 100 throwing steel tip, 70 through 120 throwing soft tip).
Right before the start of the match, I give my darts one final inspection. If there are any minor repairs/replacements that need to be made, now is the time to do them. You need full confidence in your darts. After all, they are the tools of the trade. In an article that I wrote a while back, I stated that the only thing that you need to focus on is the intended target. If you are worried about the condition of the dart, some of that focus will be on the dart itself. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's hard enough, when fully focused, to hit what you are aiming at. Dividing your focus on other things make it even more difficult.
At the surface, it seems that the inspection ritual that I have is more time consuming than it is worth. But, after seeing first hand on what can happen when you don't take the time and properly prepare for a night of darts, the results can be disastrous. It may not happen often, but matches can be won or lost, even before the first dart is thrown.