A while back our resident Coach was somewhat surprised when he asked a player how they had improved their game. Unusually, the player, who has played the biggest stages in darts, responded with a detailed daily/weekly timetable:
Coach: I noticed you have been on a upward curve, in performance terms, for quite a while now. How do you think that improvement has come about?
Pro: I refocused on my ‘behind the scenes’ efforts and structured my practise much more than before. It has worked better than I imagined.
Coach: So how much darts do you play?
Pro: I have been playing league darts for over twenty years. I still play as many different formats and leagues as I can. From 301 double-in, through to a best of 11 league with other tour / talented players.
Coach: Do you do any specific practise or just competitive leagues?
Pro: I tend to concentrate on the quality, of additional practise, rather than quantity. I plan and tailor my practise around the Pro Tour timetable and those events which I am scheduled to play. I play at least three quality sessions per week, every week. Extra, individually planned, sessions are done in the weeks leading up to major events or matches.
Coach: This sounds very focused, what do you mean by “…..quality” and “…..individually planned”?
Pro: Over a typical split my effort two categories, competitive or directed practise. An outline of a normal Pro Tour week might be:
Monday – Day time – Rest Day. Evening – League Darts usually a more social, enjoyment focused format.
Tuesday – Day time – directed practise with practise partners. Evening – League 501 darts.
Wednesday– Singles League ( Best of 11)– At least two matches, highly competitive darts, measured performances with incentives to win!
Thursday – Formal practise over professional formats with other PDC or equally capable players. Several PDC or BDO players have joined in at times along with some very capable local or aspiring players. Everyone benefits if they put in the effort and concentration. Evening – Super League if we are in a quieter period.
Friday – During the Pro Tour its best to relax and or travel on Fridays. I may have some fun practice in the evening. Half-it etc. with friends. Outside of Pro Tour weeks I may attend a local open or league singles.
Saturday/Sunday – Daytime – Open competitions are the best practise available, hugely competitive and of a really high standard these days. Matchplay and adaptability skills are honed with every event. Pro Tour events are the ultimate test of this. Evening – Relax!
Coach: That’s a pretty heavy schedule!
Pro: It was worse when I was working full time! I now treat darts very much like a job. I still try to play some ‘fun darts’ but most of the week is darts focused.
Coach: That’s a pretty impressive structure, do you have an overall plan as well?
Pro: The plan is to improve, and groove, my game during the week. It’s then tested in competition, whether open or PDC. I adjust the structure of the week according to my results/stats or what is coming up next. I do set some general overall goals each year but they are between me and mine!
Coach: You mention changing your practice and prep for major events?
Pro: My routine is reworked for Major event preparation, my practise is related to the formats and timescale of the competition, for example in preparation for the recent World Championships we practised over the full format – the great Eric Bristow was a fan of this method – with a similar style player to my opponent, always at a time to replicate my tournament schedule.
Coach: Anything else we should know?
Pro: I try to get good solid rest periods to recharge and then re focus fully on my game. It is not always easy with the addition of more and more events (not complaining!).
There are always improvements to be made and areas’ to learn in. I look at every game from both points of view, learn from wins as well as defeats, often people dwell on why they lost rather than looking at how they won!
Coach: Thanks for sharing that. I am sure it will give other players some food for thought.
Coach: This player had a very impressive routine. It was packed full of variety and yet targeted at both general improvement and specific events.
It would not suit every player, as it’s very intensive and time consuming, but for a short period or tailored to suit you it could be a great template.