From the Archive; October 2015.
You Loser, What a Failure!
These are the insults that are often hurled at people. You may have described people this way? Maybe this type of insult has been hurled at you? There is a stigma attached to being a loser. It’s embarrassing, degrading and makes us feel down. We develop a fear of failure because of those feelings.
In his latest book Mathew Syed – a former table tennis champion who ‘choked at the Olympics – points out that “we are not born with a fear of failure. It’s not an inbuilt instinct, it grows as you age”.
This is why competitors in every sport make excuses for losing. Darts players, for example. I have heard them all! Whether its the crowd booing, the opponent slowing down, the oche too long or too short, this, that or the other is always to blame. Players making excuses are merely protecting their ego – I lost but it was not my fault. I will be back to my best next time out….
Imagine if this habit of excuses was used every time there was an air crash. Air safety would certainly not have improved in the dramatic fashion it has. Syed points out that every rule, procedure and safety check is there due to previous crashes and loss of life. Although this may seem an extreme example compared to a darts player protecting their ego with some excuse for playing poorly and losing but is it?
How many players come away from a loss, work out what went wrong and how they are going to put it right? Following Syed’s meltdown, in his Olympic table tennis match, he worked out what caused his psychological stutter on the day, worked on it and corrected it. As dart players how can go about reflecting on a loss, pinpoint what went wrong and the area we need to work on?
For our darts improvement website we came up with a checklist that members could use to grade themselves after a match out of 10 (especially after a defeat) according to how they did.
We used; Match prep, Confidence, Mental Toughness, Determination etc. We then added some of the more conventional stats such as; 9 Dart Av, Checkout %, 3 Dart Av. Some areas were blank for each player to fill in for themselves. Prematch nerves, nerves in the game or characteristics of opponent etc.
From this, you can see how the feeble excuse, of playing a slow opponent, develops into something that can be analysed, thought about, solutions evolved and practise games worked on until the “problem” is dealt with. With each area resolved you are a better player and can move onto the next improvement.
By being brutally honest, in black and white, you may find an instant answer, to your issue, or a theme will develop over time which enables you to spot the area of your game that needs work or help.
There are plenty of books, blogs and forums out there (The DPC site is a mine of info, as is the dartsworld.com Coaching Corner) which can assist. Remember, don’t ignore info from other sports. Competitors go through the same issues especially mentally, whether your hitting ping pong ball or tossing tungsten.
Author/s; Paul Gillings is the founder of http://dartsperformancecentre.com and Andy Humphrey holds a BSc. in biomechanics. Both are highly qualified and regularly advise players on throwing action and improvement.
Book mentioned is: Black Box Thinking by Mathew Syed
Article Originally Appeared in Darts World Magazine (October 2015)
N.B. – Slightly edited for current times and technology.