Dart players often complain that they have been very tensed at crucial
points of a match and have therefore been unable to take what after all
seemed to be a big opportunity for a win or a good chance to fight back.
You all know these ugly situations of being on this nice double 16 in the
deciding leg, three darts in your hand, but it simply must be in 'cause
you are down and out if you fail. Nerves are coming in. Your hand is shaking,
your knees feel like melted butter in the sun, and you praise God or Buddha
for just this dart to go in - but God is out for dinner at the moment,
Buddha is having a meditation on his own, and so you blunder. Your opponent
goes on with a smile on his face and kills his dirty 60 points left with
two straight darts.
Later you think what was going on with you. If you would have been up with two legs you would have hit that double 16 nearly blind. Bloody nerves you say, and you are right. It's all a matter of thinking.
If you go there with the thought on your mind that you HAVE TO HIT 'cause else you will be lost, the chance is big that you will miss. It's that simple and that hard: Don't think of winning or losing. Simply think of PLAYING. When I got to such an important point in a match I quietly said to myself: simply play. Don't waste one single thought in the whole match on losing. Strike out this word in your mental dictionary, you won't need it in play. Learn to control your thinking. Whenever you get aware of such a *negative* thought during a game give yourself a short mental rest and say "Stop!". Raise your shoulders, take a breath and stand up the ochy in full concentration with only one thing on your mind: Play. That's enough for most situations where you feel tensed.
But sometimes your hand won't stop shaking and you can't find a focus on the board. If the situation is that hard I want to introduce you to a simple relaxation exercise which only requires a little practice. It is called "The Quiet Place".
Take yourself ten minutes of time, as often as you can. The best would be each day, at least once a week. Sit down and relax. Now with one hand press the thumb of the other hand. Think about a quiet place you like. This can be a tropical island where you lay down in the sun, that confortable chair in your living room or anything else you find quiet and relaxing. Keep this thought for about five or ten minutes, and keep your thumb pressed during this time. If you repeat this exercise regularly you will later only need to press the thumb of your hand at these nerve - shaking moments in a match and all tension will be gone.
Mental Quickfix Program
Karlheinz Zöchling, Vienna, June 27, 1996