In many sports you may hear the refrain, from modern pundits or commentators, “the game has moved on” or ” he has raised the bar”. We all like to compare the greats, of our favoured era, with players active today. It makes for great bar-room conversation and fires up the social media ‘opinionistas’.
Our resident ‘Coach’ takes issue with the “game has moved on cry” he says:
In darts direct comparisons with previous eras can be made. Players often cross more than one “era” and with so many statistics, information and analysis tools available the archive is a virtual complete history of the modern game. Obviously factors such as opportunity to pay, competition level and equipment, must be taken into account but much can still be learned.
More important, than the booze-fuelled debates on who was the greatest, most talented, best stylist…….etc., is that almost any player can benefit from studying what has gone before. Often, especially with beginners, you will hear remarks like, “whatever feels comfortable is ok”, “don’t copy anyone else” and other similar remarks. These are meant to encourage players to develop naturally and not try, and fail, to play like someone else.
This is all well and good, as far as it goes, but to reject the information available seems wasteful at best and arrogant at worst. Bearing in mind that everyone, especially the young, will try to emulate those that they admire, or who are in the public eye, it seems questionable if they are all trying to play like MVG or Gary Anderson.
Players of almost any style and stage of development could learn a thing or two from some YouTube and or dartsdatabase.co.uk research. Some myths may be dispelled, and more confidence be found in your own method, if you seek common cause with the greats of the game.
Coach Takes a Stance!
An excellent example is in terms of stance. If you were guided by current players you might think that standing in a side on position was almost compulsory. Taylor, MVG, Cross and many other adopt versions of this position. The more face on stance could look awkward or old fashioned. In addition, you may think the short, wristy throw is a thing of the past. Yet a quick look at the most successful players, with very long careers, over many years, offers a different story.
Bob Anderson made his TV debut in 1979 and still featured in the International Darts League in 2007. Along the way, he claimed the World Championship and three consecutive World Master’s titles. Bob was unfortunate enough to have to compete with Eric, John, Jockey and then Phil all in their prime. But despite his individual style few would question his place in the elite of the game.
Overlapping, with Bob, is the career of another face on, whristy short throw, tall player. Simon Whitlock first competed in the PDC in 2004. In 2018 he was ranked back in the top ten and featured in the Premier League. Whitlock is one of the few still active, to have played in both BDO & PDC World Finals and was a major finalist as recently as 2017.
A close look at footage of both players reveals many similarities. They are tall upright men in their normal posture. Both lean in with the majority of their weight on the front foot. Both get the best results when they level the dart before release. Both are very still and deliberate in their stance but once the throw begins they are very fluid and rat-tat-tat with the three darts. Both are good at moving on the oche and their finishing can be unstoppable.
In terms of equipment both use mid length barrels, 50.8mm, medium stems and a standard shape flight. Both seem to prefer the larger surface areato the flight to get their dart to stand up in the bed.
Simon has seen the light, and now uses the tapered dart, thus both use slim fronted darts to allow superb grouping. Simon has been experimenting recently with equipment and accessories. Bob was also keen to adapt to the times and switched to aluminium stems quite early and later adapted the grip on his signature darts due to a lessening of sensation with age. Simon has not yet turned fifty so could emulate Bob’s longevity. It may be that there is something to be said for this style even today!
So if you have a wristy throw, or face on stance, take heed of these great players. Maybe look at your darts, set up or both. Make one small change at a time, to ensure that you can tell what is helpful and what is not, and give each one a decent chance to work in all conditions.
Could you watch and learn a thing or two?