Oh No! The dreaded practice routines!
Round the board in doubles, round the board in trebles, some 501 practice and checkout practice are all useful ways to improve your game there is no doubt. But my God it's boring!
Especially if you have been playing a number of years and it is becoming increasingly difficult to motivate yourself with the same routines. I believe this is the point where a lot of players "drop out" of the practice routine and consequently stop improving. A few of my team mates do not bother with practice and have become stale - although they are good players, they are not getting any better, but not getting any worse, relying on the matches and a couple of friendly evenings in the pub to keep their eye in.
I am a great believer in having fun when you are practising, and the following added spice to your practice may help motivate your game, and certainly will help your practice routine become a little more interesting. I think it also helps with adapting more quickly to different conditions such as boards, distances, and heights that you come across in a darts league. Nothing will surprise you any more!
Darts on your Knees
The great professional Bobby George used to play volunteers at his exhibitions (and probably still does) at 501and WIN, but he would play a couple of games on his knees and his opponent would throw normally!
I try to complete a game of 501 on my knees as part of my practice routine. I found it really difficult at first but now I can usually complete a game in under 30 darts, and getting better! It's all about getting used to a different trajectory for the dart and may come in useful for winning a beer or two from your buddies.
Place a photocopied picture of someone you are not particularly fond of onto your board. This could be a photo of a celebrity that really grates on your nerves, your boss at work, your team captain etc.
It really does not take that long to take out the eyes, nose and mouth and it is very good for getting rid of any frustrations that may be hampering your performance. This is really good target practice, but a point to note: destroy the evidence afterwards, especially if the subject (the Wife) is likely to find it and retaliate with a well thrown dart at you.
Suspend a curtain ring, or an old wedding ring (usually available after the above exercise) from a dart with a piece of fine string. The dart should be stuck in the double top and the string adjusted so that the ring can freely swing across the bullseye. Now try and pop the bullseye straight trough the centre of the swinging ring. It's amazing how easy this is if you can hit the bullseye fairly regularly, but of course it does depend on the size of your ring!
This also is an old professional's exhibition trick, and again useful for winning a couple of beers at the pub!
Throw your darts for a few minutes from the distance of twelve feet (just less than four metres). This is a fun game that we play at our darts club at Christmas as a knockout competition. Everybody enters, even the non darts players, and it is the source of a good laugh or two for the spectators as well.
I find the practice good for sorting out my throw for errors to left and right of centre.
If you have any fun darts routines of your own I would love to hear from you.
Remember this from last time? The gamesmanship strategies of players at club level. I came across this one just a couple of weeks ago...
This player is usually the oldest of the opposing team and will "dodder" up to the board and say something like..."Take it easy with me Son".
During the warm up he will throw darts all over the place as if he does not really play that much. You cannot help but think you have been handed the leg on a plate! This is Fatal!
Then BANG!...Game On! Your fragile opponents first visit to the board will usually be a 140. You can feel your heart sink as you realise you have been stung! It takes a lot of discipline to keep in this game and emphasises the advice that I was given of "Play the board, not the Player."
It was our League Presentation Night last night. A room full of dart players (about 200) is always a terrifying thought! I noticed that even though it was a social occasion and not a dart board in sight, there were still a few players who turned up with their darts stuck out of their top pocket...always on the look out for a game! We managed to get trophies for the runners up in Division one, and an additional one for the highest team score of the season. Well done Lads!
It's hard going at these events though, as you spend about 45 minutes constantly clapping and by the end of the of the night your hands look like two smacked bottoms! A good night was had by all, and after many sore handshakes everybody went home happy, and to contemplate the start of the new season next week!
Throw where you Look, and Look where you Throw, Rockford