Dartitis is a fascinating problem. Well -- fascinating only if you don't have it. If you have it, then it is simply terrible.
This is an unusual section within this FAQ. Several people have asked The Dart Thrower about dartitis, but I am hardly able to judge this problem. I was lucky enough to never experience it. The following is a copy-pasted assembly of mails I have received and my answers. This text was an actual email I sent to Jurgen, who suffers from dartitis. I am not sure if this copy-paste form adds chaos or sense. I think the form meets at least one requirement when dealing with dartitis: expect the unexpected.
Karlheinz, Hopefully you can give some advice on my problem: DARTITIS!!! I'm suffering this problem for 2 years right now and I can't get it good anymore. For years I was a very fanatic and good player on darts,high finishes ,ton 80's etc etc. I had a terrific style a bit loose and very quick, i like to have a good pace in my game, but all of a sudden things went wrong, I twisted my wrist during the throw and I got problems with my hand to eye coordination I really feel sad about this because I Iove playing darts. Do you have some good advice what to do.... Thanx JurgenHi Jurgen,
dartitis is the worst problem you moght experience. I was fortunate enough to never have experienced it, so I know little about it. I have, however, my personal thoughts on it, and I had some mailing with TDT readers over this subject.
In this email I will include some of this. It may tend to be a bit chaotic, but I hope you can catch the clue what I think dartitis is, how you can (possibly) fight it, and why it occurs. These are of course very personal views, there is no proof for it. Highly speculative material.
I hope you can somehow manage to get a clue who wrote what and what I replied, and I hope it helps, Karlheinz
On Wed, 10 Feb 1999 15:15:59 -0500, Wayne wrote: i have a friend that some times cant let the dart go, it some times take a minute or two to through the dart, what could be the problem, he go's through the motion of throwing but can releace the dart? thanks for the responce, WayneHi Wayne,
this sounds much like the (in)famous dartitis phenomenon. It can strike players from one to the other without warning.
Most important for your friend is not to freak out on this problem. Just take it as cool as possible.
In my opninion dartitis is most likely a matter of rigidness in technique - means many fixed points in the throwing technique and a lack of touch. Most players having similar problems will try to act with even more rigidness and try even harder, only to find themselves in some sort of vicious circle - the harder they try the worse it gets.
Your friend should try to relax and throw more by touch than following some technical scheme. Just take it easy, and I know this is said easier than actually done. Losen his grip may help in release. He should forget about technique for a while and just try to throw with flow and fun. Once the feeling for a dart throw is back he can get more technical again.
hope this helps
====================================== On Tue, 02 Mar 1999 23:44:25 -0500, Brian wrote: Then it hit. My arm left me.... If I aim.. my hand draws the dart on an angled arc to my eye as my elbow shoots out. My grip slips as I am about to start the forward motion... my dart falls a few feet in front of me. Other times it hits the board at random. The more the grip loosens.. the harder I tighten it, causing my whole body to be involved in the delivery.Hi Brian,
yes... that's dartitis.
I remember (I think) I've already had some private discussion with you on the subject, but I would like to continue this on the list for the benefit of all.
My personal thoughts on the game suggest that dartitis mainly strikes throwers with techniques on the rigid side, with many fixed points.
So please, can you tell us if this applies to you? Of course these are questions about the old days, not your current technique:
1 - Once you were a beginner and when you then started to practice seriously, did you concentrate on exact movements, did you have some kind of 'fixed points' in each or some of the throwing phases? If yes, please describe which fixed points these were.
2 - Did you ever try to imitate a player for more than curiosity or for a longer period?
3 - Was your throw especially powerful?
4 - Did you play rather fast or rather slow?
5 - Did you generally need a lot of warmup to hit or was it all set after a couple of darts?
6 - Do you think your throwing arm muscles must be strained to get acceleration or do you think they must be relaxed?
7 - The drawback phase in the throw ( the phase between aiming and accelerating): did you draw back slow or fast? Did you draw back short or far?
8 - Was your grip tight or loose?
9 - A question about your current throw: If you close your eyes when throwing, do you still have the same problems (except those of poor hits of course)?
10 - Is the problem still there if you have sipped significantly more stuff than 2 drinks (not an advice to play drunk of course, but if you dare to try science can serve as an excuse)?
I think detailled answers might help (at least me) what's going on. I hope you find the time to write.
I feel that it is a combination... both physical and mental...... but to find the balance is becoming impossible. I am currently going to a chiropracter, for a hip problem ( obtained from 6 years of Martial Arts..now a Black Belt), and he started working on my shoulder. Who knows if it will help... but I am desperately in need of suggestions.I also think it's a physical and mental combination, but I'm not sure. It might be possible you don't need a chiropracter or psychologist but a neurologist... I have seen a docu on TV about a strange disease that strikes musicians (exclusively members of symphonic orchestra or other classic music). After years of practicing and mastering of their instruments they are from one day to the other unable to play anywhere near their standards. The reason is some kind of brain defect that blocks the signals from the brain to the fingers. They don't have problems in other parts of their lifes, it only strikes their music performance. Might have been o hoax (it was a science program on Austrian TV which usually is quite reliable), 'cause afterwards I searched the net for more info on this and couldn't find any, but when I saw it my first thought was dartitis. I would strongly suggest people struck by dartitis to give the neurologist a try (of course this can turn out to be a financial problem in countries like the US without or with very restricted public health service).
hope this helps,
=================[Brian did not respond to this mail, which was aired on the TDT mailing list. However, another player facing these problems, Mark, replied:]
================= Hi Karl, In response to the questions you sent to Brian about dartitis, I wonder if you could help me if I give you my answers as I was hit with dartitis last year. 1) When I started to practise seriously, I used to have a fairly rigid throw, and I would bring the dart back until the flight tapped my shoulder. However the problem started when I changed my throw to more of a touch throw. I started to bring my arm back to about my ear level, I had good results for a while with this, but when things started to cool down I tried to revert to my original throw. That is when I was hit with Dartitis. 2) I never really tried to imitate another player, but when I first started to throw about 8 years ago, my dad gave me a few pointers and hints, and people say that I throw similar to him, but I didn't feel that I was imitating him, I'm was just throwing naturally. 3) My throw wasn't really powerful, but on the other hand it wasn't a soft throw 4) I would say I was a relatively fast player compared to other players in the league, but I had the problem of playing slower against a slow player and used to get bad results. 5) I used to have quite a bit of practice before a league match, I used to practice for about 1hr before the match to get my arm going properly, but when playing at home I used to have just a couple of darts to get my arm going properly. I think that this was just down to nerves though. 6) When I used to throw I used to relax my throwing arm, this didn't give as much acceleration, but it made my darts more accurate than tensing my arm muscles. 7) The drawback phase was just before the actual "problem" My drawback was quite fast, but not over fast to lose control of the dart. It was trying to bring my arm forward where the problem lied, it just would not go forward, it seemed to lock up and was impossible to throw a dart. 8) My grip was a fairly loose grip with just thumb and first finger on the barrel and my middle finger on the tip until I drew my arm back, my middle finger would then come off the dart. 9) My current throw is completely different. I became so depressed trying to play with dartitis, I started to practice with my other hand (Left Hand) and have thrown with it for the past 5 - 6 months. I still struggle to throw right handed with exactly the same problems as described above. Even if I close my eyes or try throwing differently. 10) I have tried to play after drinking a little more than usual but this has very little effect on my throw, in some cases making it slightly worse. I hope these answers can help you to help me, although I am playing fairly well left handed, I would really like to revert back to playing right handed again. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Mark =================I replied this:
On Fri, 5 Mar 1999 22:06:34 -0000, Mark wrote: Hi Karl, In response to the questions you sent to Brian about dartitis, I wonder if you could help me if I give you my answers as I was hit with dartitis last year.Hi Mark,
I posted these questions to better understand myself what's going on if someone is hit by dartitis. As I wrote my personal thought is that dartitis mainly strikes throwers with rigid throws. Some points in your answer support this, others don't. I'll try to work this over:
1) When I started to practise seriously, I used to have a fairly rigid throw, and I would bring the dart back until the flight tapped my shoulder. However the problem started when I changed my throw to more of a touch throw. I started to bring my arm back to about my ear level, I had good results for a while with this, but when things started to cool down I tried to revert to my original throw. That is when I was hit with Dartitis.This supports the rigidness theory - the flight tapping the shoulder is a typical fixed point. I want to add that it also is a bad point. It is too much of bacjward movement. Generally I advocat a large backward movement, but in this case it is too much, an absolute maximum. I think that a darter's technique isn't a thing that is developped once and then kept for lifetime. The body's physics are changing, and with e technique stripped of many of these fixed points it is possible to subconsciously react to such slight changes of the body physics. What happens in my POV is this: You develop a technique and throw it. When body mechanics change slightly, parts in your throw not attached to a fixed point can adjust naturally, while those with fixed points can't. This process works up to the point when the naturally adjusted parts no longer fit to the parts with fixed points, and then - whammo. This is a scenario that can explain some aspects of dartitis to me. It can also explain why going back from earlevel backstroke to shoulder backstroke worked out disastrous.
2) I never really tried to imitate another player, but when I first started to throw about 8 years ago, my dad gave me a few pointers and hints, and people say that I throw similar to him, but I didn't feel that I was imitating him, I'm was just throwing naturally.This looks quite okay. I also learned darts from my father and tried to stick to the advice he gave. Of course I have changed things to my own comfort, but I'm still using some things he told me.
3) My throw wasn't really powerful, but on the other hand it wasn't a soft throw 4) I would say I was a relatively fast player compared to other players in the league, but I had the problem of playing slower against a slow player and used to get bad results.This is a typical rhythm problem. I also have problems against very slow players, although I play a bit slow myself. Not necessarily a source for dartitis, because I feel that it should strike more often players on the slow side. However, this diagnosis can be a wrong.
But I see a connection between dartitis and fast players using many fixed points. The reason is that it is unlikely - when you rely on fixed points you might want to take yourself time to get them. If you then play fast it is difficult to get them, and things can get out of control, with a disastrous effect. You can't get your fixed points and naturally become uncertain, which can get to the point you don't want to or can't release the dart because something is missing. This might actually be an unconscious problem, and it is quite possible that the problem is made worse if you have developped fixed points you are unaware of. This can lead to the brain saying 'no' to release because it hasn't had the required fixed points, and this leaves yourself puzzled because you thought everything was okay. Now if you play slower the chances are high you can get such unconscious fixed points easier and have less problems.
Well, I hope you can work out something of this point. I think it is to some extent very speculative.
5) I used to have quite a bit of practice before a league match, I used to practice for about 1hr before the match to get my arm going properly, but when playing at home I used to have just a couple of darts to get my arm going properly. I think that this was just down to nerves though.Possible you are throwing differently in tournaments than in parctice, because you want to make things especially good in tounrnament, while you don't think much in practice and just let it flow. Maybe a subject of increased rigidness in tournament play?
6) When I used to throw I used to relax my throwing arm, this didn't give as much acceleration, but it made my darts more accurate than tensing my arm muscles.Yes, this is what I didn't want to hear, because it contradicts the rigidness postulate. Anyway, it is obvious that rigidness and relaxation don't come together. I advocat relaxation, so this should be okay. On the other hand, relaxation is poisonous if your throw depends on fixed points and rigid parts. You see, ambivalence is a subject here. Dartitis doesn't seem to be a rational problem, so maybe it needs irrational thinking.
7) The drawback phase was just before the actual "problem" My drawback was quite fast, but not over fast to lose control of the dart. It was trying to bring my arm forward where the problem lied, it just would not go forward, it seemed to lock up and was impossible to throw a dart.This lock up is the key discription that is used by all players who suffer from dartitis. Of course, only all players I have heard of.
On first thought I felt this problem is mental. On second thought, see the above explanations, I felt this problem is physical. On third thought, I felt this problem could be neurological. On fourth thought, I felt this problem is a terrible mixture of sources that lead to a fatal combination...
I do drawback quite fast and a bit short, and I know this is far away from perfection. I have of course tried slower drawback for numerous hours, but I coudn't get accurate, problems with coordination. It's possible I couldn't reach world class players because of this problem. But then, I watch Bob Anderson who is also fast in his drawback... Maybe in your case you should concentrate on a slower drawback, and not as far as back to the shoulder.
8) My grip was a fairly loose grip with just thumb and first finger on the barrel and my middle finger on the tip until I drew my arm back, my middle finger would then come off the dart.This is a very loose grip. I wouldn't recommend less than 3 fingers involved in a grip. From your explanation I see that in acceleration/release your grip is only 2 fingers. Loose grip should be okay, because a tensed grip leads to rigidness, and then... well, you should be able to complete my thoughts by yourself now...
Anyway, I don't think this is THE source for dartitis, but you should change the grip because it is not okay for other reasons. Maybe you should try some sort of a pencil grip.
9) My current throw is completely different. I became so depressed trying to play with dartitis, I started to practice with my other hand (Left Hand) and have thrown with it for the past 5 - 6 months. I still struggle to throw right handed with exactly the same problems as described above. Even if I close my eyes or try throwing differently.This is the most radical of all cures. But interesting - if you don't face the unability of releasing the dart with the left hand then the problem is less likely to be purely mental. Unfortunately this makes the problem worse because working on technique is more difficult than working mentally. Also the fact that it is still there with closed eyes doesn't suggest the problem to be mental.
10) I have tried to play after drinking a little more than usual but this has very little effect on my throw, in some cases making it slightly worse.Again this contradicts thoughts that the problem might be purely mental.
Now it is time to thank you for your detailled answers to the question. I hope some parts of my answers might already give you some keys to understanding or at least some hints to work on.
I would first suggest to look for the possible existance of subconscious fixed points in your right hand throw. A good way to support this should be visualizing (see article in TDT mental section). The problem itself doesn't seem to be mental but you should also use mental techniques to fight it. Visualizing is a good tool against almost everything. Then, you should change your grip. If you are used to use few fingers maybe pencil is an idea. And then, slow down your drawback, and generally slow down your technique. By doing so, avoid getting rigid (some players tend to get rigid when they throw slower). Again, learn visualizing and visualize the release phase. In addition a throwing exercise with a tennis ball might help. Lay down on a bed or sofa and throw a tennis ball on the ceiling in a similar way you would throw a dart - with follow-through.
I hope the above can help at least a bit. I would be very interested if it does, so please mail back your thoughts on it.
==========Another TDT reader wrote this:
========== On Mon, 22 Mar 1999 15:39:03 -0500, x wrote: Thanks for your prompt reply. I can tell you a few things about 'dartitis'. Although I have yet to suffer from it, I certainly would have if things had turned out differently. You see, I suffered from (and healed myself) of tendonitis caused by playing the violin. Although there are many different symptoms and effects, most repetitive motion 'diseases' are caused by the same things (tension, poor >posture, poor technique, etc.). Tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, dartitis, tennis elbow, etc. are all cases of repetitive motion. If you look up information (don't take it from me) on these subjects, you're bound to find a ton of stuff for your article.Thank you for this hint. I once have seen a documentation on TV about some sort of brain disease striking musicians, solely performers of classic music. It was about a sudden inability to coordinate fingers and other movements any longer, and I immediately related it to dartitis. I have searched the web for info on it but couldn't find any. Now that I know what it might be called I will have a good basis for further research on that matter.
I have a couple of problems you may be able to help me with. I have been shooting since 1983. I went through 2 tearable bouts of dartitist. I have fought my way back out of the most current bout but I now have a tearable problem with my grip. I slip off of the dart and now it has gotten to the point of embarrassment. I have experimented with different grips, two and three fingers and different pressures, and different pressures with different fingers etc. Too much pressure and my arm tightens up and I loose control. I seem to release the dart too soon. My second problem is that I am a really good shooter when I drink enough, a regular Dr. Jeckly and Mr. Hyde. It seems to me that when I drink a lot I get to the point to where it takes all of my concentration and I am able to focus only on the target and the job at hand. When I don't drink whether it is in league or tournaments, I get so anxious at the game itself that I do all of the wrong things. I tighten up, I think about mechanics, I think about winning and losing, etc. etc. etc. I am a big thinker, too much for my own good when playing and practising darts. I know there is no wand to wave. I have read, practised, watched videos, and on and on and of course I don't like the fact that the only way I seem to throw darts consistantly is to drink too much. Can you suggest anything on these two topics. Thank you also for your website. JimDear Jim,
You are obviously going through an awful phase in your game, so let's look if we can actually make it just a 'phase'.
It's pretty clear you are suffering from a big lack of confidence. These things tend to become a vicious circle. You are not confident, so you try to push harder, practice more, get tensed, and then you play even worse which leads to another decline on confidence, and so on, as you surely have experienced.
Dartitis is not a matter of the throw, it is a matter of the brain. You fear your slump, you fear it in practice, and you fear to go up the board to see it happen. In fact you should relax and take the things easy, but it seems you are too ambitious to do this. Trying harder and harder to defeat your problems is the absolutely wrong way, it only puts you deeper in the circle.
You don't have to worry about your throwing technique. You say it works when you drink, and this means the technical issues can't be wrong. When you drink you are relaxed, you stop thinking and then everything works. You step over your mental blocking by drinking, and you start to hate this, which I understand well.
To work on your dartitis you will have to achieve the mental state when everything's fine by mental training, not drinking.
As a solution I would suggest the following: Take a sheet of paper and write down your usual thoughts in a game of darts when nothing works. These thoughts can be described best as 'negative thoughts'. Now take another sheet of paper and write down the exact opposite of these thoughts. Remember to use only positive phrases there, e.g on a 'I'm so nervous' write 'I'm cool', on 'I can't do it' write 'I can do it', on 'I'm a bad shooter' write 'I'm a good shooter' and so on, I think you've got the key. Do this carefully and completely. Now trash the negative paper and keep the positive one on a place where you can 'accidentially' read it every day.
Then, learn the relaxation technique 'The Quiet Place', described in the article on 'Tension'. Then, go on to learn and use the technique of visualizing (article 'Visualizing'). Imagine your play and see where the negative thoughts and feelings come in. Exchange them in your visualizing with the positive ones on your sheet of paper. Remember, this process that doesn't work fast, it takes some time, but if you do it regularly it will help.