This is how darts players deal with pressure
In a game where millimetres matter, here's how they do it
This January saw yet another glorious chapter in the history of darts, as the legendary Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was denied a fairytale finish to his long and illustrious career when rookie Rob Cross - who had turned professional just 11 months before the tournament began - upset the odds to win his first title.
The tournament continued the modern popularity of darts, with millions tuning in to marvel at the high standard of play on offer and strange sight of watching players deal with pressure in an environment where the slightest movement can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
So how is it done?
A two-time world championship finalist, few men can boast a steadier hand than ‘The King Of Bling’ Bobby George - so we spoke to him to find out.
“Professional darts players don’t get the shakes. If you did, you would never get to the top.
“A lot of people think they can throw darts. And they probably can in their kitchen or down the pub. But when you’ve got hundreds of people watching, plus however many on the TV, if you thought about that you’d never have the skill to get to the television stages.
“Never mind the guy behind you waiting for you to fuck it up. A top darts player doesn’t play his opponent, he plays the board. I never worried about who I was playing. Names can put pressure on you.
“To be a good darts player is not to think, it’s to throw. I’ve seen a lot of guys overthinking shots – taking their time, walking away from the oche and back, scratching their head. You don’t do that in practise so why do it when it counts?
“If you do something all the time, the easier your brain works under pressure. Dedicated practise achieves two goals for a player: muscle memory and mental confidence. The muscle memory will allow you to hit your target time and time again, while mental confidence relieves any pressure because you’ve done it so many times before.
“I never practised alone; practising under competitive conditions, even if nothing’s at stake, keeps the mind sharp and the muscles loose. Darts is like sex: you can do it on your own, but nothing beats the real thing.”