After the World Championships and the PDC Q-School I got into a mindset that I don’t think people understood and I don’t think they will either. This sort of non-empathetic attitude where I kept buried my own feelings inside and headed towards a singular goal. After pathetic performances in UK in what is by far the most important tournaments in my life as a Singles competitor, I had a lot of soul searching to do. Was this a career worth getting into? One where millimeters differentiated winning from losing? One where you had to get your mental strength so high that it cannot be compared to most so called sports. I was one decision away from giving it up but I didn’t because I wanted another chance.
Now, I am going through arguably the best patch in my life with regards to darts. I am playing the game and enjoying it a lot as well. However, it has had it’s share of sacrifices which I have willingly accepted. It’s very lonely in this state of mind that I carry and I put up a face with everyone. I have lost touch with people I considered friends and even family. It’s not like I don’t communicate with them – it’s just that it doesn’t lead anywhere because I am hell bent on following a path I have taken.
There is this issue that I am trying to deal with – which I know no one can help me with, it’s just something I have to do myself. It’s the excitement and anguish you feel when you score high and low. You get a 180 and it’s the best score on the board and you’re naturally excited. You get a 3 and you’re visibly disgusted. But how do you not let that affect you and just concentrate on the game that you are playing in? That’s the problem. See, we all want to score the best, finish in the least number of darts and ultimately win – that’s what everyone wants so it’s kind of stupid to say you don’t want that. It’s also kind of stupid to say that you just want to beat the best without possessing the motivation to become the number 1 player – that’s another level of utter idiocy because that just means that you are okay with mediocrity and I am not okay with that. If you don’t want it – find something that you want and go for that – don’t waste your time here because you aren’t getting that time back.
So yes, back to my point – when you score a 180 or any high score you are obviously at an advantage but then what are the steps you use next – It’s fairly simple if you go through it. You obviously wish you get a 9-darter before you start a leg and are aiming for a 180. If you get a Single 20 then the chances of a 9-darter have vanished. But now you can maybe finish in 10. What do you do in your next steps? and how do you react and stick to the steps required to win is what my issue is. It’s what I do and am trying to make that a living with all the life that’s left in me. Whatever position you are in – you cannot let your mental state affect what you throw. You have steps required to win and that’s what you need to follow. So here, if I score a 180, I might most likely win a leg. If I score a 3, I am most definitely on the back foot – but if I end up winning that leg as well then it does mean that I have followed my steps to get back into the game and eventually sneak out a win. So the process is great. I can make myself stone cold to a 180 and a 3 even. But now, if the people you practice against don’t regularly win games after you’ve scored a 3 – you are then not being punished for your own screw ups. So how do you improve then? Because under pressure you are most likely to miss targets than get them.
Let’s play against a bot – great. Let’s play against an imaginary opponent – great. Let’s give a handicap to an opponent and then try to beat them – great. It helps you for a bit in stages but does it really help you move forward?
I am now at a stage where all the efforts and tactics that got me here do not necessarily help me move further up. They do not help me get better. I don’t need information that I already know – if I miss a finish that could have won me a game – there is no need to advice me on that because I played that game and I know it first hand that I missed my chance. If I didn’t score well and lost it there is no need to advice me on improving my scoring either because I know that.
Is there any other way other to mentally condition myself to hit required doubles under pressure apart from actually in a game? The doubles practices that the apps give you, the friendly games that you play – none of them are even a patch of the pressure you feel when you are in an actual game and going for that double. So what helps? Playing against quality opposition in matches helps. This is where the foundations of experience are built and grown.
I don’t know where I stand now. I know that I used to play better more than a year back. I scored better and finished faster. But I buckled under pressure and was a lot more inconsistent and that is what I have been working on since my trip to the UK. I had a goal and target that I had to achieve for the next World Championships. I have already achieved that and surpassed it. Now, I have to push even harder to get better. At the end of the day people will never understand – Oh you can’t go for a tournament, it’s fine, go for the next one. If I don’t go for every tournament I can and at the end of the day – don’t perform, all these people will be the first to turn around and say you aren’t ready yet. So yes, it’s funny like that. But I don’t care and I haven’t for quite a while. You can always tell a person to improve their average. But there comes a time when averages don’t matter. Averages do not always tell you who wins. So now, what matters is knowing how to win which is an art itself. Averages help you get a grip on where you stand – A higher average doesn’t guarantee you wins.
So yea, the way that got me here wont lead me to where I need to be. Now where do I go from here? Time will tell.