In my February blog I looked at the importance of practise and the amount of hours needed to become an expert in a given area.  10,000 hours is generally considered the norm as documented in Bounce and Outliers: The story of success. These books are both fantastic when considering the question of ‘how to become a professional athlete’.

I decided to double my darts practise from 30 minutes a day in the month of February to 60 minutes in the month of March.  I am still finding the darts practise boring and tedious and doubling the time has only made this worse.  At this point, were it not for the sake of the blog, I would be giving up! Throwing a dart at the same place, over and over and over and over again… you get the idea!  I can quite see why dedication, resilience and willpower are key traits for athletes who make it to the top. Becoming a professional athlete is not an easy task and with each dart thrown it becomes more and more apparent. 

I don’t feel like I have improved and I certainly don’t feel that doubling my efforts has made a worthwhile difference.  

Each month I throw 99 darts at treble 20 and record the score because I want to show people what works and what doesn’t and give some insights into how people manage to become professional athletes.  I am using darts as a way of showing which strategies work or don’t work.  It may result in my attendance at the World Darts Championships but more likely it will help people to improve their practise and realise what it takes to become a professional athlete.

In February the results were

1st March 2021 – 99 darts – 1508 – 45.69 three dart average

In March after an hour of darts every day the results were

1st April 2021 – 99 darts – 1503 – 45.55 three dart average

What does this show?

As you can see doubling my time at the board hardly seems worth it. So just doing more of something does not necessarily make you better.  Why not?  Because by doubling the practise it only became more tedious and I started dreading the hour at the board.  Consequently the quality throughout the session was no where near as high.

Consider an every day task such as driving a car.  Throughout my life I would say I am easily above the 10,000 hours mark because I have been driving every day for 20 years.  Do I consider myself a world class driver? Absolutely not.  So why has my 10,000 hours of driving dedication not resulted in expert status?  Am I doing something wrong? Perhaps the practise is not the most useful? Most efficient? Maybe at times I’m thinking about other things or in the case of the darts am I simply going through the motions because I’m bored.

What does this mean?

Something is required to make my training more enjoyable and that’s what this experiment is crying out for.

Does making your training more enjoyable make a noticeable difference to results? 

We shall find out.  Having read the book ‘Research-based strategies to ignite student learning’, I have learnt about the importance of fun to increase levels of dopamine, endorphins and oxygen, all of which promote learning and the development of new skills.  So ‘fun’ will be the next change I will make and only time will tell if it makes a difference to my level of darts. 

How will I make the training more enjoyable?

I have decided that through the month of April I will include in my training some darts practise rings which I will use as target zones.  There are different sizes and I am going to start placing them around the treble 20 to make the practise more interesting and make it feel more like a game and therefore more enjoyable. More enjoyment = more dopamines, endorphins and oxygen = more learning = better darts… I hope!  I have also decided that 99 darts is not enough darts to make the experiment fair and so each month for the test from now on I will use 501 darts.

My 501 darts for March’s results are as follows.

This month is make or break, I have to find a way to make this more enjoyable and in turn more effective. Happy darting!

Darts career summary 

1st February 2021 – 99 darts – 1490 points – 45.15 three dart average. (before doing any practise at all)

1st March 2021 – 99 darts – 1508 – 45.69 three dart average (after 30 minutes practise every day)

1st April 2021 – 99 darts – 1503 – 45.55 three dart average (after 60 minutes practise every day)

Andy

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