The mental challenges of focus and concentration are important in any sport, but with a game like darts, where the slightest deviation from the intended target can mean the difference between a perfect shot and a wasted one, maintaining concentration is more than half of the battle. Regularly practicing concentration techniques can make a massive difference in your ability to focus on the game.
With any target sport part of the challenge is to focus your self on the target and let muscle memory take care of delivering the projectile. If you try to focus on and consciously control the movement of your body, your throw will not be fluid. In focusing on the target it's important to aim not only at the section of the board you want to hit but on the very dead center of the section. You can prepare for this by simply standing a few feet from the board and focusing on a tiny detail in the center of the section you want to hit, a hole left by a dart, for example. Take a step back, holding the focus on this spot. After a few minutes take a further step back, still maintianing focus on this spot. Repeat this procedure until you are at the throwing line and hold the target spot in your focus for as long as you can.
Snapping to Concentration
During a long game it will be almost impossible to maintain your concentration throughout. What is important is the ability to move quickly from a distracted state of mind to a focused one as soon as it is your turn to take a shot. To build this ability practice each day by focusing on the thought of three darts landing one after another in the desired spot. Hold your concentration on this for as long as possible, then switch on the TV really loud for two minutes; switch it off and go back to focusing on the image of the darts landing. Repeat this procedure until you can move between the mental states with ease.
The simplest, most common way of overcoming nerves and lost concentration is through focusing on breathing. Very simply close your eyes and focus on taking deep, slow breaths, concentrating more on relaxing on the out breath than the depth of the in breath. With the out breath feel the tension in the muscles let go. Taking three deep breaths before beginning your round will get you into the habit of focus and concentration.
Some high-level players, such as five-time world champion Eric Bristow, have suffered from a psychological condition known as dartitis, which makes it difficult for players to allow themselves to let go of the dart at the point of throwing. Players have managed to overcome this problem in a number of ways, often by learning to synchronize their out breath to the release of the dart. However, other, more long-term, solutions may also be necessary, such as improving diet and lifestyle and sometimes switching to the opposite eye you use to line up the shot. Many players may suffer from milder versions of this condition and it may be worth investigating any or all of these approaches to help relieve general tension when playing, thus improving one's shot.
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