The Focus of Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor plays better the more pressure he’s under. Here he throws his 2nd 9-dart out of the match for the win.

Phil Taylor focus

Another Taylor legend – two nine dart games in a single match. Not in a tournament…in a single match.

As usual Taylor continues to set the bar for every dart player in the world.

The lesson that I think people may miss here is that when he hit the second 9-darter he was shooting for the match. At 7-7 tied with James Wade (who is himself one of the all-time great darters) Taylor was playing match game against a player who held even with him for the last 14 games…    [Correction: I realized that this was not match game but rather a race to 10. Changes nothing…]

Phil Taylor focus

What continues to amaze me about Taylor is that he simply does not crack. Ever. And he always plays his best when he’s under the most pressure.

At his level, it’s not about darts anymore – it’s mind-control.

Dart Practice: breaking a routine

Changing my dart practice routine helped me through a “mental slump”. Some times just banging away at the trip-20 isn’t the best way to practice darts.

Practice can be such a bore.

I know, I know. I keep talking about the value of dart practice and effective ways to practice, but sometimes i feel like if I have to stare down the trip-20 one more time….

I was in one of those moods today. I knew I wanted to (needed to) get some darts practice in, but, man, did I not want to be in fron of the board. I knew I had to mix things up a bit.

Now living in the UK, I never play Cricket any more. This is the land of 501. I’m not sure they even know what Cricket is apart from that strange version of baseball they have where I think you get extra points for not getting dirt on your pants, or exerting yourself as little as possible, but maybe I’m off topic….

Anyhow, I decided to throw Cricket rounds for score. I’m sure there’s loads of ways to do this; mine has always been to simply see how many rounds I need to close all the numbers. Keep it simple – no score keeping,  just get 3 of each working from 20 down to bull. In my early darting days I remember I used to average about 10 rounds – I knew I could do better with my new, improved game.

Long story short, I averaged right about 7 rounds, with one 5-rounder and realized that I need work on my bulls. More importantly, I had fun during practice, I spent about 20 minutes longer than I intended while staying focused, and I noticed a weak number (bull) I can work on next time. Plus, this was the first practice session with the new darts where I wasn’t focused on the weirdness associated with a new set.

[UPDATE: I started counting “overs” – that is anything above 3 hits. The max would be +2 for each number – no point-loading here*. The idea is that now I can tell that a little more about what I’m hitting: a lot of +1’s means I’m hitting single-triple; +2’s mean two singles and a trip, etc. ]

*(What I mean by “point-loading” here is that, as soon as I score 3 of my number, I move to the next. That’s why the max. is +2 and not +6 (3 triples)

The main thing is: rather than skip practice or rush through in an unfocused way, I had a quality session despite my bad mood. Try it next time you find practice isn’t getting you what you want.

Picking the right dart equipment

Choosing the right dart is a personal choice. There is no “best” dart but understanding the different options will help you pick the dart that best fits your game.

Selecting the right Dart Equipment

The Long and short (get it?) of selecting the right dart

The first rule of picking a set of darts is this: THE DARTS DON’T MATTER IF YOU CAN’T THROW. Don’t become obsessed with your equipment – Darts is a games where your gear isn’t going to make you better. This may change as you approach a high-intermediate level but for most people, focusing on what you’re throwing is not nearly as important as how you’re throwing.

With that out of the way, let me talk about the various parts of the dart and how they might affect your game.

The Barrel

This is what you spend your money on. This is where the weight of dart is and the shape and length will affect your throw the most. Anything from 21-27 grams is normal – if you’re gonna go heavier/lighter make sure you have reason. Also, these will be easier to find.

  • The length affects the dart balance – where the weight is.
  • The shape affects your grip. It’s up to you to decide what is most comfortable.
  • There’s no reason to spend more than $25 on a set of darts. I recommend having two matching sets.

The Shaft
Plastic or metal, these balance the length of the dart and the action of the flight. Shafts are cheap so be ready to replace them frequently when they bend or break,

  • Aluminum lasts longer but plastic is easier to hit or bounce off with a following dart.
  • The most important thing to consider is the length of the shaft as this most affects how your dart flies.

The Flight
The bit at the end, acts a bit like a kite. The flight provides drag (not lift) on your dart and helps to stabilize the dart’s flight.
Stick with either the large kite shape or the teardrop. Don’t get an unusual shape just to be different.  Contrary to what you may see other people do, it’s ok to have different color flights as long as they are the exact same shape and material ( you don’t have to change the whole set when one goes. ) I just buy a box of what I use and keep 4-5 in my dart case.

  • The larger the flight the slower your dart
  • A larger flight will provide more stability
  • Flights are cheap. Replace them whenever they look bent or frayed.

The Point
This is part of the barrel and should be considered with it. The only thing to know is that points can be sharpened and replaced if necessary. There are also moveable points that add a little more striking power to the dart. See “Gimmicks” below.

The Case
Yes, I consider this part of my equipment. No, it has nothing to do with how you throw but I suggest a larger case the lets you carry 2 sets of darts with the flights on them. Putting flights on and off shafts is slow, boring and wears out your flights quicker. Also, if you lose a flight in a match, it’s faster to just put on a new shaft.

The Gimmicks (flight protectors, weights, o rings, etc.)
Use them if you like but unless you really have a reason (like consistently putting one dart into the flight of another) they are just one more thing to go wrong/missing. I’d say it’s better to work on your game than your gear.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have a proper Darts shop near you, I suggest you go there. They should have a board setup so you can try different darts. It’s good to experiment with different weights and barrel shapes before you buy. When you find a set that seems right, just go with it. You’re not gonna be perfect in the store so pick something you like and go home. Remember – the physical darts don’t matter all that much so go for something shiny if you really can’t decide.
The Dart Shop is also a good place to find out about places to play, leagues and events. Also, these guys are getting killed by the Internet and I like to support the guy who deals with all the hassles of owning a proper store.
So, go get some darts and start throwing. The important thing to remember is that once you decide on a set of darts, STICK WITH THEM while you learn the art of throwing. Every time you change your gear you have to re-adjust all your throwing mechanics which will frustrate the hell out of you when you’re trying to learn.

When Dart Players had style

Bobby George talking about his career. He’s Davey’s dart hero so listen up.

I just wanted my first video on the new blog to acknowledge one of Darts’ true classics, Bobby George.
There may be better players to study, but Bobby has always been the one to watch.

Here’s  BobbyGeorge’s website if you’d like to know more.

Now you can go back to searching for Phil Taylor vids.