What are you really practicing?

Discussion in 'Practice, Strategy & Technique' started by BlackHorse, Jun 4, 2017.

  1. BlackHorse

    BlackHorse Moderator Site Moderator

    When I joined leagues about eleven years ago, I was struck by how many people told me they'd been playing for ten, twenty, forty (!) years.... and when I watched them - they still sucked.

    I mean, really. Oh I know it's a tough game, I really do. But if you've been playing for decades and still can't hit what you want fairly often, I mean even singles, then what have you been doing all this time?!

    I'll tell you - you've just been huckin' at the board. Huckin' and hopin'. Hoping somehow that this trip to the board will be different, that things will click and you'll hit a great shot.

    I know there are lots of social darters who like playing darts the way they like playing slot machines. They throw for the fun of seeing what'll come up. A triple is a jump for joy - I can't share their enthusiasm cuz I want to hit trips on purpose, not as a random act.

    But the players who insist that they want to become better, who 'practice' for hours sometimes, and who seem to be miserable every time they show up cuz they can't hit what they want... ??!!

    I tell many people, some over and over, that unless they fix their mechanics they will never get better. When they 'practice', all they are doing is ingraining their bad habits into their throwing action. Until they change their throw, they will not only never get better, but they are making it more and more difficult to ever change.

    I'm not taking about naturally talented people, people who can hit tremendously from the first time they picked up a dart, who are blessed with extraordinary hand eye co-ordination. Let's just all agree to hate them and move on.

    If you have to work hard to throw well, and I do, then you have to break down your mechanics and find out why you are missing. I have changed stances and darts and elbow position and forearm position and grip strength. One at a time, sometimes combinations, over lots of throwing and determining what works and what I can repeat.

    Oh I am still no tournament winner, but I am far superior to when I first started. And that's the journey, that's the aim, to become the best you yourself can be.

    So stop practicing your mistakes. Fix your mechanics the best you can and then practice that fix. Then evolve to the next level, find out what you need to do to get better, why are you missing certain shots, fix that and practice the new throw. Repeat forever, lol.
     
  2. kimber

    kimber Moderator Site Moderator

    I could have written this post. I totally agree with a lot of it. I am constantly working on my mechanics. I could list 20 additional areas that I've found need my attention beyond those you listed. And part of the challenge is it's not always clear which changes help and which hurt. Some of the mechanical "improvements" may be somewhat difficult to combine with other elements.

    But I don't judge folks who aren't really trying to improve. I am, like you, somewhat surprised how few folks are willing to address seemingly obvious mechanical problems, however.

    That said, your post is only addressing half the issue. The other is consistently putting oneself in challenging competitive environments...and desensitizing oneself to where we can perform in a previously uncomfortable environment. (For example vs. stronger players who pressure us to throw our best to have a shot of winning.)

    I also believe that some people are not capable of analyzing their mechanics. For them there are some good resources out there to at least spur some thought. Here is one I've enjoyed: http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~bolo/darts/throw_errors.html Another good method is really considering video of pro players' throws. What do you see that's quite different from the way you throw. (Video yourself too.)

    Anyway, good post. Though there's nothing wrong with the slot machine approach if one doesn't whine too much about the relative lack of jackpots.
     
  3. Erik

    Erik Site Owner Staff Member Site Admin Site Moderator

    All true.

    On the playing 40 years (I have, though it's been on and off and on again so not steadily) it isn't the years of play that really matter, it's the years of practice and competitive play.

    I find that when I hit the board for a regular practice routine I get better, no doubt, and when I compete frequently, same thing, but it takes commitment that I can't always give and so those times when I can't I just don't improve.
     
  4. BlackHorse

    BlackHorse Moderator Site Moderator

    Some other things never change, lol.

    The post is on practicing. It is very difficult to put yourself into challenging competitive play when practicing, by definition, lol.
     
  5. Erik

    Erik Site Owner Staff Member Site Admin Site Moderator

    True enough. TO me you have to do both to excel at the game. One without the other just isn't enough for me anyway
     
  6. Erik

    Erik Site Owner Staff Member Site Admin Site Moderator

    and welcome back :) Nice to see you posting!
     
  7. kimber

    kimber Moderator Site Moderator

    Right, but I am equally dismayed by the people who practice a lot (perhaps with the intent you suggest) but then are surprised when the results aren't there in competition. Thus my comment.
     
  8. Showboat00

    Showboat00 Member

    A message from one of those guys who have been playing for many, many years but still suck:

    Practice doesn't always make perfect. 10-15 years ago, I had people tell me that I had a very smooth stroke (but I was just an okay shot - never really great). Since I wanted to get better, I started to really practice and then tinker with my mechanics, grip, release, etc. Somewhere in that process I totally forgot how to comfortably throw a dart and had a bout with dartitis from which I've never fully recovered.

    In my experience, attempting to fix your mechanics can have devastating consequences. Instead I would advocate practicing to make your natural comfortable throw repeatable.
     
  9. kimber

    kimber Moderator Site Moderator

    Dartitis sucks. But I got it after playing for a year before I really started working on my mechanics. I know plenty of others who got it just doing what they've always been doing...with no idea why it happened. So, not sure leaving your mechanics alone increases your chances of avoiding dartitis.
     
  10. CraigB

    CraigB Best looking Craig B in the forum! $:-{P> Staff Member Site Admin

    Practice? :roll:
     
  11. BlackHorse

    BlackHorse Moderator Site Moderator

    That's a good warning, Showboat, but your outcome is not a common one. As the vast majority of darters do not have a terrific natural throw, to advocate people not changing their mechanics is to advocate accepting mediocrity. To practically give up on becoming better, to stop trying to excel.

    Repeating an inaccurate throw is not a solution, however smooth or comfortable it may be. Then again, if you have fun and enjoy playing darts at that level, that's fine too. Enjoyment is what it is really all about, this is after all our entertainment. I myself cannot enjoy playing if I am not throwing what I consider decently, and I really want to continue to improve.

    The individual's skill level and mindset will be the determinants in trying to get better. If they are a solid A shooter, that could be just fine, they could be justifiably happy right there. If they are a spray shooter, I don't even know why they are playing, to be honest. Each person will come to grips (lol) with what makes them enjoy their darts.
     
  12. Showboat00

    Showboat00 Member

    If you are actually able to repeat a throwing motion (however crazy it may be) I think it will lead to accuracy (i.e. tight groupings). Then, it's just a matter of positioning your groupings. Granted, the less moving parts, the easier it should be to repeat. I would encourage people to work on trying to develop accuracy by repeating their natural comfortable throwing motion before embarking on significant changes in their throwing mechanics. Then again, as you say, my case my be the exception, so that is just one man's opinion.

    For me it's a bit of an addiction and I have just enough occasional moments of brilliance to keep me interested.
     
  13. seedykiwi

    seedykiwi Moderator Site Moderator

    This has nothing at all to do with the topic.

    First thing that came to mind when I saw a BH post on Sewa..

    We're getting the band back together!
     
  14. BlackHorse

    BlackHorse Moderator Site Moderator

    Hiya SK. :D

    Showboat, if the repeatable action is decently accurate, then yes that's what you should practice. And you will be just fine.

    If it isn't, no it's not what you should practice. It's as simple as that, and that was what my initial post said.

    If the natural throw isn't accurate, you shouldn't practice it because it will just take you that much longer to change it.

    I did just keep throwing like I started for a while, hit a ceiling of not getting better, and the desire to improve had me search for ways to do that.

    Ask Erik, I am pretty sure he was the first to say I had to develop a follow thru, cuz I used to just chop off my throw short. He took a quick video of me on his phone at the Oregon Open when I challenged the great MzzThang to a Cricket duel, lol.

    Then I wanted to quit slopping right and left, and John Part on this site told us to make it a two dimensional game by making sure our elbows were locked and our forearms went through the same up and down plane all the time. He does it without even making his forearm vertical. But I worked a whole summer to make mine straight up and down.

    I'm not at all athletic, Showboat, and even with what I've developed I can't do the right thing every throw. But I love hitting what I aim for, just like you said you do, and I want to do it more often. So I change what makes me miss.

    It really isn't as complicated as people like to think, but the human body has too many moving parts to make things go right every time.

    When you throw, if you move your arm sideways, the dart will go sideways. So you lock your elbow. If your fingers put pressure on the dart, it will go the way the pressure is. So loosen your grip and let the dart slide out straight. And so on. Basic mechanics, nothing fancy. But you have to get the motion right and then practice that.
     
  15. Erik

    Erik Site Owner Staff Member Site Admin Site Moderator

    I just saw that video the other day! Was wondering what I should do with it LOL....hmmmm
     
  16. Erik

    Erik Site Owner Staff Member Site Admin Site Moderator

    Facebook sucks so maybe some of the old timers (ok, younger generation? lol) are coming back a little more.

    It's tough though since SO much is on FB these days.

    But at least you know, always, that sewa is darts first, foremost and always :D
     
  17. CraigB

    CraigB Best looking Craig B in the forum! $:-{P> Staff Member Site Admin

    FB is so intrusive, it knows almost everything about its users so, should one decide to leave the flock and go back to a forum, I'm sure it will stalk them down and blackmail them to return! :lol:
     
  18. Erik

    Erik Site Owner Staff Member Site Admin Site Moderator

    LOL could be!
     
  19. BlackHorse

    BlackHorse Moderator Site Moderator

    If Facebook learns too much about me, reads too many of my posts, it will short circuit.
     
  20. davidsproull

    davidsproull Member

    I agree that in order to improve you need to work on and with good form.
    What I do not think is helpful though, is changing things every five minutes. This will just do your head in.
    I say decide how you want/feel most comfortable throwing the dart and do that each and every time. if it is off even when you are relaxed and focused, then change one thing..but then keep that change for a couple of months to see if it works.
     

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