MIND OVER DARTER !
Write up in Darts World Magazine Sept 2016
Darts has never been in such fantastic shape, it’s a global sport now, more professional than ever and today’s players certainly realise the opportunities open to them and as a result are continually working on their game and that’s not only on the practice board, but more and more are seeking help and advice from coaches, very often former players and also some are going that little bit further. I caught up with one such player, PDC Pro John Bowles. The ex Widnes Rugby League star, turned successful dart player has been working now for some months with Terry McElhinney, a well renowned Sports Mind Coach. Terry has worked with many other professional and amateur sports individuals and teams across a wide range of sports including Olympic Medalist and now Pro Boxer David Price and has now stepped in to help John with his darts.
So why a sports mind coach John ? “Well, I’ve been playing well and consistently for some time but been coming up short, losing in last leg deciders, missing that winning double and when this happens you start to get negative thoughts in your mind. Will I ever win a last leg decider, why can’t that double be hit. I’ve spoken to many players about this and they agree it’s difficult to change your mindset sometimes when things continually go against you. Terry was recommended to me and so I got in touch and we started working on various things straightaway”
Have you seen improvements and what sort of exercises have you been involved with John ? “Well Andrew, his tuition has got rid of my negative self talk and replaced it with the positive self talk (this dart is going straight in the double, I’ve hit it a thousand times !). He as also being teaching me how to work on mental rehearsal
(playing the game in your mind seeing yourself hit the 180s & double in 1 dart and repeating the process over & over again) I’ve also been working with Terry on recovery anchors, this is how to not let the loosely thrown darts in 1 leg effect your next leg, regroup concentrate, focus and start again! Not letting people outside of you, that is your opponents influence your performance. It's called gamesmanship now apparently. Don't get angry & confused when your opponent decides to go to the toilet halfway through your match, use the time as an advantage, practice, keep your focus, don't let it affect your game! This has resulted in my overall performance going up, I'm getting more consistent with my scoring and finishing with Terry on board. I can only improve because every loss will be turned into a learning curve & every win will be a step in the right direction” That’s great to hear John and I’m sure players in similar positions will be wanting to tap into something like this to improve their game and results.
So lets delve a little deeper and get into the mind of the actual Sports Mind Coach himself ! Terry uses simple but very powerful sports mind tools from NLP and other proven body and mind techniques and tools, to help Sports people be the best they can be and help them remove any limiting beliefs and attitude. I spoke with Terry and he explained “It is often underestimated just how important our mind plays determines our sports performance and ultimately, our level of success. In many sports, games are won or lost before a ball is
kicked, a punch is thrown or a dart has left a players hand.
That’s because, even as a professional or amateur sportsperson, our minds are good at finding reasons for failure-success sabotage. Self-doubt, past failure, tiredness, negative beliefs and even superstitions can all conspire against us creating a state of competitive anxiety
A misconception is that Sports mind coaching is only for those sports people struggling, who have lost their edge, lacking in belief, confidence or self esteem but that’s not the case. I work with sports people who want help with taking their game to the next level or who are searching for more consistence. Working with John has also made me realise how many different and diverse issues darts players face before, during and after a game that can either enable them to play well, stay consistent or possibly regress them back to playing like a novice”
Terry goes on to say “My job is to help the players find the correct recipe, add the right ingredients, get the timing right and not allow anyone to spoil their cake. Knowing my NLP tools and other sports mind techniques I use might not guarantee a perfect cake every time but at least we are at the right end of the success scale”
John continues to work with Terry once a week and it will be interesting to monitor John’s progress and results on the PDC Pro Tour. It certainly proves, there’s