Linda Duffy PhD. (@sportspsycoach) has a unique perspective on the sport of darts. As a player, Linda, then known as Linda Batten, was World Number 1, England International (Captain) and World Cup Singles Champions.
In management, Linda assisted the careers of two World Champions (Keith Deller & Bob Anderson). Later, after a competitive retirement, she completed her Doctorate and can now be found at Middlesex University, that’s when she is not assisting Josh Payne in his rise through the PDC.
Our resident coach sought Linda’s opinion on Q School 2020, the BDO scenario and other current issues in the world of darts:
Coach: As a player, manger and coach, you have multiple perspectives on Q School. What’s it like attending and wearing multiple hats?
Linda: It’s a great event to attend with so many players of many different levels of skill, it’s fascinating because it’s not always the best players, that prevail.
Coach: Do you think Q School is an event that can be coached and prepared for and if so what are your top tips for those planning on an attempt in the future?
Linda: Yes, every sporting event takes meticulous planning and Q school is no different. Top tips are copious amounts of concentrated practice in the run up to the event. Timing is important, not too far away from the event but not too close either – you need to peak for the four days of the event. Stamina is also key so pacing yourself and practising to concentrate for a long period of time is important, not many players know how to do this effectively.
Coach: Do you think Q School is an accurate indicator of the likely success, long term, of a player on the professional tour?
Linda: No not necessarily, records will confirm this. Getting your tour card at Q school is not necessarily an accurate predictor of still having it after 2 years. I think many Tour players have to return to Q school to try to regain their cards.
Coach: Do you watch the players your connected too directly, from a distance or do you stay away from the board?
Linda: I get as close to the board as I can – I watch every dart thrown.
Coach: Do you think anyone should be able to enter and play Q School or should there be a level of assessment or qualification?
Linda: I think historically it’s been an effective way for players to have the opportunity to get a Tour Card but these days I think there are too many players who are not to the required level and maybe there should be some type of pre-Q school qualifier.
Coach: Is there anyone who, in your view, is less well known and might gain a card this year?
Linda: I wouldn’t like to say, I think it’s a bit of a lottery.
Coach: DW suggested Josh Payne for a ‘Challenger’ slot in this years PL. What do you think?
Linda: I think Josh would acquit himself well and his game would certainly stand up to the scrutiny but I prefer to focus on what is in a players own hands, not selection.
Coach: As a former BDO Champion and England International how do you view the current struggles within that code?
Linda: I think it’s very sad. The BDO is a valuable resource for the “amateur” game and a good provider of future PDC champions. The BICC is a perfect platform to hone your skills and, if adjusted, could get back to its former glory days when venues were filled all over Britain.
Coach: Glen Durrant performed superbly after getting a Tour Card last year. Do you see him doing so again in 2020 and could anyone in the years Q School repeat his achievements?
Linda: He did very well and I don’t really understand why so many people were surprised, he was a 3 time world champion with multiple titles to his name. I was more surprised by the success of Rob Cross. Both men are quality players are I don’t see why they wouldn’t do well every season.
Coach: Our columnist (JR Lott)http://www.dartsworld.com/?s=decade) has picked Lisa Ashton as one of the players of the decade, and it seems that female players are making more of an more impact across the game, would you like to have had played in this era or was being part of the first golden era satisfying enough?
Linda: I’m happy with my playing career and I achieved everything I set out to do and more. I played in an era with some great women players as competitors and had the privilege of playing with, travelling with and watching brilliant men such as Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Bobby George, Leighton Rees, Bob Anderson, Jocky Wilson, Keith Deller, Cliff Lazarenko and Tony Brown – I love competing so I would like to still be playing but I had a brilliant time playing back in the day so I’m more than happy.
Coach: Linda is one of the best informed people in our sport. Her huge experience, now allied with academic research and alternate perspectives of player, manager and coach, make her an almost unique resource. We don’t always agree on every nuance, but as you can see from the above, she is more than likely correct!
• Dr Linda Duffy is a former World No.1 dart player, England captain, World Cup singles champion, two-time British Open champion, European Champion and is now a consultant sport psychologist at Middlesex University.
Follow her on Twitter @sportspsycoach