I mean... how can you suffer from a condition that you don't even know how to spell!
It's had me by the throat but I think I'm shaking it off. I need to explain...
After playing social darts with a good friend (Steve) who suffers from this condition, and has for a couple of years, I like most other non-sufferers had sympathy with, but could not really understand what his problem was. I have spent time encouraging Steve along with my other social darts buddies to "Just relax and let 'em go." Easy to say, now I understand not so easy to do!
Now the goddam thing has struck me. Is it my time? Has the great Dart Player in the sky decided that it was retribution for eating all those burgers!? I thought I must find out more about this strange affliction.
Steve had been playing social darts years ago and was becoming quite good, when he was asked to play for a local team, which he did. Steve blames this decision entirely for his dartiteous. He was actually warned off from playing competitive darts by another sufferer at the time. Steve tells me that he actually started thinking more about his game, strategy etc. and also sub-consciously about not letting the team down. The condition began to bite, until Steve packed in playing for the team and he is now left with an embarrassing stutter to his throw and his arm gets "locked" at the back end of his pullback for his release. So much so, that occasionally he falls forward over the line and sticks his dart in the wall about knee height!
Is this the reason for my sudden bout of dartiteous? The fact I play for a team!?
I looked on the Internet for some answers and I was able to find very little. My Daughter studies Sports Science at university and she also came to a dead halt in trying to find any research on the subject.
I decided to analyse my own condition myself! Freudian Self Help or what! Now I am no Psychologist, but I think I know Me very well.
Steve's theory may have some credence for me, but I do not think it is the answer for every individual, but I did discover from talking to others players that every time they mentioned a player who they knew had the condition, they were always fairly seasoned throwers. Nobody ever mentioned that "Charlie started playing darts a couple of months ago and he's got dartiteous already."
That leads me to believe, and I can see how it has happened with me, that when you start to think seriously about your game and hitting specific targets, checkouts and even getting some sort of strategy to your play, you can leave yourself susceptible to the dreaded thing!
In golf, a similar condition to dartiteous, "the Yips", usually strikes professionals and top amateurs on the putting green, and they are unable to effectively carry out the backstroke of their putting action, but I have never heard of this problem attacking the novice or hacker.
I would consider myself a serious strategist, being capable of holding my own at games of Chess, Backgammon or Bridge, and I can see how I apply that to darts, with all the various options of two and three darts finishes, whether you have a points lead or not. I always felt that an expert knowledge of possible outs will give you an advantage over your opponent. Has this serious strategy outlook backfired on me? I'm not sure!
Now this is the frustrating part of the condition, that it does not affect everyone in the same situation, and trying to get an understanding of the profile of a sufferer is impossible.
I asked my wife and a couple of my non playing darts friends to throw at my board at home and to tell me as close as they could their thoughts and feelings as they threw darts. The consensus of opinion was that there was very little thought of specific targeting, and as my wife succinctly put it..."I'm just trying to hit the board". No thought was given either to their method and style of throw and trying to follow previous darts etc. Of course the darts were all over the place, but this is the crunch...they did not care!
One of our non playing friends was absolutely "gobsmacked" when I told her about dartiteous. She had never heard of it, and found it quite ridiculous that a serious dart player could not let go of his dart properly. "Don't be so stupid" she said. It took some persuading from me to convince her of the seriousness of the condition. She followed with..."But you're a confident person... it sounds like something that somebody would suffer from if they don't know what they are doing." I told her that "Sir" Eric Bristow (who she had heard of) had suffered from it recently and very late in his career, and has not quite been the same player since. Eric would not be described by anyone as lacking in the confidence department.
Back to me...I decided that this "no care play" must be the answer. As I am not yet suffering the condition as bad as Steve is, in fact, to anybody watching me throw it would probably be unnoticeable that anything was wrong. I know it is there though, just a slight hesitancy at the back of my throw and my shoulder drops a little on release, and of course missed target! Also the number of 180's and 140's I am hitting has decreased, and the 26's and 41's increased! I also noticed that the condition came on over the period of the evening. At the beginning of the session I am fine, throwing as normal and then a couple of hours later I start to get what can only be described as "twinges". Thankfully I have yet to suffer from this during practice or a match! I did "care" though during these evenings, social darts or not, I still wanted to play well and impress.
So I have now started to persuade myself that "I don't care where the darts go" and to say to myself "stop trying to play a perfect game all the time, and just play an average or even a bad one, and enjoy it!"
So is it working...I think so! I now seem to be able to get through a whole evening of throwing without the problem. I also now drop out of the games for a while if I get the slightest hint of any dartiteous creeping in and have a quick talk to myself along the above lines.
I think that it also helps when you love the game, and force yourself to sit out and watch other people playing. I've just got to get back up after a while and "it" appears to have gone away.
Sorry about the seriousness nature of this article, but I felt that I had to get something down "on paper" about the problem - even that may help me! Hopefully it may also help any readers who are suffering or used to suffer from it.
Thanks for listening!
If you do see a guy sometime in the corner of your darts room mumbling to himself something about not caring where his darts go, please buy him a beer and point him towards the board - it might be me!
Throw where you Look, and Look where you Throw.