Here in Montgomery, Alabama, our steel-tip league night is Thursday night. The title of this article should give you an idea on how I threw on a recent Thursday night. Not too good. I usually have about a 20 PPD average in x01 games and about a 3 to 3.5 mark per round average in Cricket. I didn't even come close to that. The first two sets of our league's format are Doubles 501 and Doubles Cricket, both sets being best-2-of-3. In the 501 set, I only had 2 'bed shots' the whole set, total of 7 and 5 points (yup...had them 1's in my sight). In the Cricket set, I didn't hit a single triple that counted, but I did manage to nine-mark the 7's. The more that I tried to correct what I thought was the problem, the worse my throwing became. The worse my darts were, the more frustrated I'd become. After the Doubles Cricket set, it finally dawned on me on what was wrong. My mind and body wasn't into it that night.
I finally realized halfway through the match what the problem was. There was a whole lot going on in my personal life. I was in the process of moving. My grandmother passed away the weekend before. My wife was suffering from a very bad cold. My kids were adjusting to a new place. I spent the previous 2 weeks packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking and arranging the new house. I was mentally and physically exhausted. That is just the tip of the iceberg. It was a wonder if I could concentrate at all with all this stuff going around in my head. After all, I now throw darts to get away from all of this stuff, even if only for a couple of hours. So why am I bringing my problems to the pub?
In the next set, Singles 501, I was in the process of exchanging flights when an index card fell out of my dart sack. There were only 5 letters on it. J T T F D. Just Throw The Flippin' Dart. I wrote this to myself about 4 years ago. Back then, I was thinking too much about my throw. I was concentrating on everything else but the intended target. I wrote this as a subtle reminder to myself. These 5 letters convey not just a neat saying, but a concept. You are going to have bad nights. Whether the cause is physical, mental, emotional, or whatever else, it's going to happen. No matter what you try to do, it isn't going to work; in fact, things usually get worse. The best thing you can do at this point is just relax and muddle through the rest of the match the best way you can.
After I replaced my flights, had a few warm-up throws and a cup of coffee, I was starting to relax. Even though I lost the first game of the 501 set, I did come back and won the next 2 games. I also won my last set of the evening, Singles Cricket, 2 - nil. Even though the darts that I threw were still not as good as what I am capable of, they were much better in the 2nd half of the match than they were in the 1st half. Not worrying about personal expectations and just throwing the darts was the difference.
I would like to think that that night was going to be the last bad night I'd ever have. I'm sure I'll have many, many more awful outings before I put away my darts for good. I'm pretty sure that you will have those nights that you would care to forget. Take it from me, don't let it frustrate you. Don't let it make you angry. J T T F D. Though you haven't thrown to your expectations, you will leave the pub in a better mood. When you talk to you dart buddies about the previous week's match, you'll smile, chuckle a little bit, shake your head, and say "It was one of those nights".