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use your imagination

Would you like to practice match situations you have never been in to avoid surprise? Would you like to change your throwing technique but you always fall back to the old one when you are practicing? These are only two things you can handle better when you have learned and used the mental technique of visualizing.

 The basic of visualizing sounds easy: Sit down in a comfortable chair or lay down on your bed or couch, close your eyes and imagine yourself in the situation you want to practice. That's it. Maybe some of you now think that's bah humbug voodoo or just rubbish, but you can be ensured it is not. And for sure every sport star in any sport has used and is still using this technique.

Of course, the tricky thing is this must be done right. Doing it right means doing it intense and aware. Let's say you have troubles doubling out against an opponent who is better than you. Whenever you get the chance you are surprised and you blunder. Take yourself some time to visualize. Close your eyes and see yourself standing in front of the oche. Try to imagine as much details as possible. Hear the quiet (or not so quiet, yes) noise of the crowd around. By the way, do you imagine in colors or black and white? Turn the color on if it's off! Feel the weight of your throwing arm, feel your dart in your hand. Can you smell the chalky odor around a steeltip board? The more details you can imagine the better it is and the more you will benefit from your solitary visualizing session. Now in your imagination step forward and kill the double. Did you catch it? If you are a good visualizer you might still face problems hitting it! If you hit everything in your visualizing session then you probably imagine not intense enough.

Another example: You are working on a change in your throwing technique. Do you remember how your muscles felt when they first tried the new throw? Don't you still feel this odd muscle strain on your bad "the old style" throws? This is a remembrance you can use for visualizing to figure out the differences . Good visualizers can "throw" in their imagination and really "feel" their throw. If you can imagine the feeling when the dart goes wrong and the feeling when the dart goes right, you can visualize it, analyze the difference, and this more often and more precise and controlled than you would ever be able to practice on a "real" board. This is the big advantage you have if you are a good visualizer: you can control yourself and even control your reactions. If you know the feeling of a "perfect" hitting throw you can deepen it in visualizing sessions which will help you reproducing it in matchplay. This feedback is the main benefit from visualizing. And of course the more often you visualize the better you will be able to control and use it.

 Visualizing is much like autogenous training. It should be done regularly, and the number of different situations or feelings you can work on by visualizing is nearly infinite.

Here are only some:

  • The "dreaded opponent" problem
  • Tensed situations
  • Problems with your throwing technique
  • Nervousness
  • Bad playing conditions
  • Preparing against opponents you know well and play often
  • Preparing against opponents you know
  • but you've never played against
  • You have time left you could use for practicing but there is no dart around
  • fear of cats[sorry, this one is non- darting... ;-) ]
And finally one sidestep to something completely (?) different from our darting universe:

 Nureev, the famous ballet dancer, once was asked if he doesn't think it's a pity he can't see his beautiful dance himself. "But I DO see me dancing!" he answered... Visualizing?!

Karlheinz Zöchling, Vienna, December 12, 1996