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by Fred Everson

ďHe who hesitates is lost.Ē

That famous quotation certainly applies to hitting the mark with a well-thrown dart. Most good dart players throw in a particular rhythm. If the rhythm is broken, blown concentration and a missed shot is the result. So how do you stay in your rhythm?

The first thing is to always have a flexible plan for the three darts in your hand.

I know it sounds simple, but how many times have you stepped to the line and thrown a dart that completely disrupts your plan? What do you usually do? If you play like me, you probably think about it for a second, draw a blank, and throw at the next number that wonít bust your score.

But here is where you have to step back a minute, formulate a new plan for the next two darts, and not worry about taking to much time. Hesitation here is a good thing. Hesitating just as the dart is about to leave your fingers because you are not sure you are throwing at the right target is rarely a well thrown dart.

A good way to formulate your throw is to start thinking about it while your opponent is up and throwing. What he scores will effect what you should do with your throw. This is not as easy as it sounds because darts is a sociable game. Somebody might be talking about something else between throws. Thatís a good recipe for blown concentration. Risk being rude by telling whoever is trying to talk to you that you are trying to concentrate on doing something nasty to your opponent. If you rebuke the talkers often enough, everyone will stop talking to you while you are up and playing, and you will invariably play better as a result.

Sometimes itís nobodyís fault but your own. In Cricket I talk a lot about not worrying about what your opponent is going to do to you, instead think about what you can do to him. This is mostly good advice, as long as you keep the end of the game in sight.

I lost a game to a very good player through mental lapses the other night. It was an important team match, as the team that won that evening would finish the season in first place. By the time I stepped up to play my last match, my team had sewed up a first place finish that had eluded us for several sessions.

My first game of Cricket was a blowout. I was relaxed and confident. The second game looked like it could be another lop sided victory. My opponent was missing, and I was ahead by a couple of closes. My teammates were all done and we were chatting and I lost site of the end of the game, and my concentration. I threw a brick on a chance to point 20 and my opponent responded with great darts. Next thing I knew, he was no longer behind, but throwing at the bull to end the game.

The third match went much like the first. I needed one dart to close my bull, and another dart to make up a one-point deficit. My opponent had three open numbers but his bull was closed, so he was shooting at bull to gain some points and buy some time. I didnít play close attention to his last throw at the bull. I knew he didnít hit one, but slop hit one of his open numbers, leaving him needing only a single hit on each number for a close. I also needed only one hit on any of his open numbers to win, but I didnít look at the scoreboard before I threw. I knew what I needed to do, but only after I missed with my third dart at the 20 did I realize that my opponent could end the game with a single hit on each of his open numbers. Thatís exactly what he did, and I missed a chance to win a match against a very good player. Concentration hesitated and I lost sight of the end game for only a second, just enough to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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