Friday, 10 February 2012

The Warm Up

Ok, so over the last few weeks things have been fairly busy on the Irish darts scene. I’ll start by offering my congratulations to the Irish lads who qualified through Q-School, brilliant effort!

I had never really heard of this until a couple of weeks ago. What a gruelling yet ultimately rewarding competition for the top players who secure a tour card. I am on the hunt to have a couple of training sessions with the likes of Connie Finnan and Paddy Meaney!


In the last blog, I posted a picture of my brand new home set up, a lovely new Blade 4 with tyre and all. Now that I have moved from the stand on to the wall, I have noticed a huge difference in my game. Consistency rates are good, doubles are improving dramatically and overall I am relatively happy with my game.

A huge problem I have been suffering was the relentless altering of something in my throw. I was spinning the dart, and then I wasn’t. I had a four finger grip, then a three finger grip, then an appalling two finger grip before settling on the three. I was leaning forward, and then my back would get sore so I started standing straight. Catch my drift??

The problem was I couldn’t develop unless I was consistent. If the routine was changing all the time, how am I meant to get better? For the last few weeks, everything has been the same. I haven’t changed a thing! My head is in a good place too, I am not over thinking the game. Keep my routine solid and just repeat my little mantra before I throw:

'Relax… This is going in.'

Missed out by one leg!

I played in a tournament last week with 32 players. A very good standard of darts were on show in the club, with seven boards up. My board had five players, you played the best of three legs against four players, and the top two from each board who accumulated the most legs progressed to the last 16.

I was covering a match for the Kildare Nationalist and ended up rushing to the venue, leaving myself no time to warm up – I literally walked in the door and on to the oche. I lost 3-0 in my first outing, and while my opponent was decent, I should have done better. My hands were cold, I was rushing and hungry! Missed 12 darts at doubles in the first leg, 5 in the second and my head was completely shattered by the third.

On to my second opponent and I had assigned myself to defeat before a dart had been thrown, which is not good. He was wearing a Unicorn shirt, and that had me nervous! I know, stupid! And I went and took the first leg in 18 darts, before he stormed home with 16 and 13 dart legs to beat me 2-1.

Winning my third game 2-1, I was left with a slimmer of a chance of qualifying for the last 16. I needed to beat my opponent 3-0, something no one else had done in the group. At this stage, I was very confident, and walked up to the oche full sure that I was winning this match. AND I DID… 3-0!


At this point, qualifying didn’t matter to me. Well… it did, but I was a happy man. I had won two matches, with ample opportunities to have taken more from the other two. This is development. Although I missed out on getting to the last 16 by one leg, I had a very encouraging night.

I learned that no matter what, the warm up is crucial. You can’t expect to hop on the oche and throw well. In my opinion, you need between 45 minutes to an hour just to give the arm a chance to warm up. It’s only then will you start to see some consistent results.

Had a practice during the week, with six legs against the Computer. In those six legs; 6x100s, 3x140s and 1x180. I’m getting there!



Twitter: @A_Farrelly

Monday, 16 January 2012

A New Year, with New Goals!

January always spells a new era, a fresh outlook, and a positive perspective. And for me, that has been true, well kind of…

Ok, so I started out on this journey in 2011 with the hope of becoming a professional darts player. Can this still happen…? I think so. Will it be anytime soon…? God no! I knew what I was getting myself in to, a life of tireless practising, and the bitter frustration of a poor visit to the oche coupled with the elation when the third dart flicks in to the double, when the previous two had been a mile away.

A modest assessment would indicate an improvement in my game. It took me a while to build my confidence, and it has been desperately dashed in the tournaments I have played over the Christmas period, even though there are more positives than negatives.

What have I learned about my game?

One of my goals last year was to win four games in a row against the lads in the club. I have done that and more in the last month or so, I think I stretched one run out to seven games on the trot before I fell foul to some double trouble. This was a brilliant feeling, just to hit the double so often tells you you’re doing something right.

I am thinking way too much about this game, to the extent where I am still struggling to find a routine and grip that I am 100% comfortable with. I have commitment issues. When I am on the board at home, I will regularly change something about my throw, possibly three or four times in one practice session.

How can I expect to become consistent in scoring, if my throw is anything but consistent?

Tournament Summary

I have played in two singles tournaments. The first tournament was an experience, it was played in a round robin style for the opening three games, two of which I won. I got knocked out in a playoff for a semi-final spot, and in that leg my scoring had fallen to a 55/60 avg.

The second tournament was different. A knockout out system from the start, I was expecting a little more from myself. That was until the draw was made. I was given little hope by my peers when they heard my opponent; someone well recognised in the county as a formidable player.

I wasn’t nervous, to be honest I was just hoping to knick the opening leg and see what happened from there. The first to three legs, I started the first with 60, 100, 100. Then I started to feel a little shake in my throwing arm, and although I got to a double first I just couldn’t compose myself.

I had three darts at a double in the second leg, and when I missed the frustration boiled over before my opponent comfortably took the third, and winning leg.

What’s in store for 2012?

I am practising a lot, although I know if I want to take my game to another level, I need to increase my hours on the board considerably. The singles tournaments are coming thick and fast, and I would like to be playing one, if not two a month.

I have until September to make it on to the team for next season’s league games. This is a must for me, playing week in week out against different players and more pressure on the throw is vital for my game to improve.

                                                                  My new set up.

PS. Thanks to all the darts folk on Twitter (@A_Farrelly), Facebook and to everyone who have emailed me ( over the last few weeks sending on your advice and tips, as always they are welcomed and appreciated. J



Monday, 12 December 2011

The Perfect Darting Storm

Since my last post, a lot has changed. I have changed darts, stems, flights, pre-throw routine, grip of the darts, release point of the dart, stance on the oche. In other words... EVERYTHING. This was a makeover Gok Wan himself would have been proud of.
And only now can I truly understand why. See, I have spent the last three weeks really struggling with this game, and the complexity of it all. I lost all trust in my throw, I had no faith in myself; and all that was going through my mind was that if I change this, it might make my darts perfect.

Yes - I changed everything about my throw for one reason... to find that perfect dart. I have been so caught up in reaching a certain standard of throwing, that I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a leg of darts. I was getting frustrated when I missed a fat 20, and the only thing that I could think was to change in order for this not to happen again.
If this journey is to be a true success, there are a couple of limitations that I need to come to terms with now if my stress levels are to be managed. No one just suddenly becomes a brilliant darts thrower, did they?
Over the last few days, I have really peeled back the layers and began to refocus. Changing everything did bring about some positives; I am back to the dart I started out with; it is still the shape and weight of the barrel that proves more fruitful than any others. And more importantly, it feels right. The commitment I need to make now is to stick with this dart for the next 6 months. REGARDLESS if I don’t hit one treble in that time.
I am speaking as if my darts are terrible at the minute, and in truth they aren’t. I have taken part in a couple of tournaments, and won some matches. The major flaw is simple; when I am throwing badly, I immediately change my throw. I have spoken before about the importance of mental strength in this game, and by god have I learned this the hard way lately.
The Darts Performance Centre has once again been crucially important in this process. Having someone to talk to about my struggles was imperative, as Paul was able to bring me back down to earth. As far as they are concerned, there are certain parts of a throw that are vital, and need to stay consistent if you are to improve.
So What Now?
I have made some realisations recently, and just incorporating these in to my approach are already helping my game.
1.      Pressure: It’s just for tyres. I have to take the pressure off my throw; I won’t win every leg, I won’t score 100 or even 60 every throw. And for now, that’s OK!
2.      Trust the Process: I have now found a throw that is working. I have scored many 140’s in my last couple of training sessions, and taken out some shots like 106, 111 and 124, so the routine I have now is working. It’s all about the fine tuning, so when I throw 26, 45 or even the odd 7, that’s OK! I just need to remind myself that this throw has worked before, and will work again.
3.      Give Every Dart A Chance: My third dart has more often than not landed where I want it, even if my first and second stray from the target. The ability to stay positive, even if the first dart lands in the 5 is vital from now on.
So that is where I am at right now. Everyone that I have been talking to lately tells me these mental slumps happen, and to embrace it rather than hide from it. I am the other side of it now, and ready to start winning some matches again.
Can’t wait for the World’s to start, but they won’t distract me from my own practice! Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to get in touch with your comments / advice.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Welcome to Shanghai

I am starting to think Sky Sports have it in for me. The temptation of daily darting delight on TV is certainly distracting my own practice, although it has been another positive week.

If I am completely honest, my home practise hours have started to dwindle. It is proving very difficult to match practice with game play scenarios, although I have started to bulk up on planned actions within my practise sessions, mainly thanks to the help of the Darts Performance Centre (

Terrific Tuesday

My Tuesday night in the club was brilliant this week. I made it down at 9.30pm and was quickly thrown in to action with a couple of single’s games, which I lost miserably. Without laying blame too sternly on one cause, I hadn’t warmed up one bit.

We soon swapped to doubles, and in a similar fashion to a week previous, my partner and I weren’t too long about upsetting the odds once again. We got off to a flier with some steady shooting, a few 140’s between us as well as finishing a number of legs with a decent double percentage.

Wait, it’s wrong to go for the 180???

Personally, I was throwing some steady 60’s, but still very capable of a 45, 26 and even a 7 which really annoyed me. Last week, I mentioned one of my goals was to score the elusive 180 in a game play scenario. But when gifted with the chance, it turned out I went for the wrong choice.

Left with 233, the first two had nestled in the 60. Without even thinking, I wound up for the third before my partner said to swap down to 19’s. I stopped myself, and suddenly had a conundrum Geoff Stelling would be proud of. Hit the 180 or set my partner up….

The delay in itself had put me out of sync, and when I eventually threw for the 180 it dropped low to leave 93 in a leg we eventually would lose. What I have learned? A 180 would be brilliant, but is it more important than giving yourself the best opportunity to win a leg? Of course not.

Wait… I win???

Come the end of the night, I have learned that the players swap from 501 to a game called Shanghai. This basically means everyone has three darts at numbers 1 through 9, and whoever scores the highest combined tally will take the money. If someone hits a ‘Shanghai’ i.e. a dart in the single, double and treble, then they would automatically win the match.

Nine players started out, and I managed to build up an early lead thanks to some treble 3’s and 4’s. With a couple of players ‘falling’, which means missing any odd number with any of their three darts, I ended up winning the game with a score of 137, which I am told is not too shabby. I was elated, so encouraged with an apparent development in my play to the point where I can outscore eight others in this scenario.

1. Singles Tournaments
This is goal number one, and there is actually movement in this one tonight (Friday 18th November). I am playing my first singles tournament tonight, and my aim is simple. Just get through the first round Aidan!!

2. The elusive 180!
Could have happened last week. I am knocking on the door, hope it will come my way in the next couple of weeks.

3. Stay on for four or more games in the club
Managed to stay on for a couple last week in doubles, would like to transfer this to singles matches now!

Average is still hanging around the 55/60 mark this week. Plenty of improvement in other areas this week, so overall I am thrilled. A huge thanks to everyone who continues to offer their support and advice, as always it’s hugely appreciated. You can find me on Twitter (@A_Farrelly) or email:



Friday, 11 November 2011

The Double is no Friend of Mine

This week was interesting on a number of levels. As the dust began to settle as we waved goodbye to Mr. Barneveld, it was time to get back to work, taking the positives from such an epic experience and putting those to use in the bread and butter of club darts.

I didn’t lift a dart on Sunday. Was this a good decision? I am not too sure. I was tired on Sunday, and the way I felt, if I went throwing with a lacklustre attitude, chances are I would end up getting frustrated and it could do more harm than good. So it was Monday night before I stepped up to the oche, and practice went well.

Tuesday is my night in the club, and genuinely I considered this more important than a one leg encounter with the Dutchman. I needed to refocus again, and prove to myself I can continue to develop without such a milestone to look forward to. I was a little late to the session, which meant I was thrown straight in to a leg which almost brought me to tears with such shoddy darts being thrown on my behalf.

Two out of Three Aint Bad!

Never take experience from a man who takes his name from a dinner dish! This post has two main pillars; one of extreme frustration followed by one a little more encouraging. Here is the frustrating one…

Once I warmed up the hands, I had started to find my groove against some of the best players in the club. We were playing doubles, and to say my partner and I were underdogs against any other pairing would be a whopping understatement.

Between the two of us, we were managing to stick with our opponents, and in our second leg, we were left with 156. Before I stepped up to the oche, I had a little word with myself; ‘Aidan, you are going to take this out!’ Simple right? I followed my pre-throw routine perfectly, and what do you know the first dart nestles in the treble 20.

Ok, now to add a second. Easy peasy!!! I am conscious now that my fellow throwers have fallen silent, their way of offering me their respect. I have had opportunities of a three dart check out before, and have failed to compose myself on the third dart, so I made sure to take my time as I took aim at the Double 18. Then, well the best way I can describe it is my left hand took a life of it’s own and flung the arrow an inch wide of the mark.

Three Dart Checkout, Take Two

So once I got over this, I had another attempt minutes later to redeem myself somewhat. With 103 on the board, the plan was to hit Treble 20, Single 3 for Tops. First dart… Treble 1. Ok, 100 left, lets hurt this 60. And I hit it. Now, for the love of god COMPOSE YOURSELF MAN!!!

Its official, I hate wires. I didn’t just bend it on the Double 20. My dart did it’s best to break the wire altogether. I was sick, so annoyed with myself but was soon made up when I turned around to see everyone praising a ‘very good effort’.

Great Expectations

This is an interesting point, and has left me pondering for days now. I used to wonder why the Pro’s would look physically ill if they hit a fat 60 instead of a 100 or 140. In at least four separate legs on Tuesday, I hit three or four 60’s in a row with my three darts. Missing out on the treble, I couldn’t stop myself voicing my frustration. This is surely an encouraging sign?

If you had told me two months ago that I could reach a level of consistency where three darts were reaching the same bed, I would have literally snapped your hand off. Now, I have come to expect more. I want that treble each time I throw, and when the darts land high or low of the bed, I am disappointed.

Switch the Goalposts

Now my date with Barney has passed, it’s time to set some new, realistic goals for the coming months. I don’t want to become stagnant in my throw, and feel it is vital to work towards something in order to develop.

1. Singles Tournaments
I need to get out and play some tournaments. Even if I am knocked out in the first round every time, the benefits of preparing both mentally and physically would be extremely positive.

2. The elusive 180!
I still haven’t managed to hit a maximum in the club yet. I have scored some 140’s, but am becoming desperate to hit a 180 in a real game scenario.

3. Stay on for four or more games in the club
As it is winner stays on in the local club, the most I have won in a row is two games. I want to double that, as it will show my concentration skills are improving for longer games in tournament scenarios.

Two weeks ago, I had a quick look at my three dart average during a practice session at home. I marked it at 55, and when I did the same a couple of days ago, it had risen to a little above 60 over 15 legs. As always, any improvement is always welcomed.

Thanks for reading, and as always your comments and advice is appreciated. You can find me on twitter: @A_Farrelly or email:



Monday, 7 November 2011

The night Barney came to town

He may have won this one, but my date with Barney lived up to every expectation. I hit no maximums, and had no shots at a double, yet I still couldn’t be happier with how it went. Here’s how the last few days have unfolded.
Please welcome to the stage...
The sound engineer strikes the play button on Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger; two hundred and fifty people jump from their chairs and give a justified standing ovation to the towering figure of one Mr. Raymond Van Barneveld. The one and only was here. The battle lines were drawn, his arrows sharpened and sweatbands at the ready. Oh it was on.
Before now, the nerves were fine, just fine. Having spent the previous Friday with Paul and Andy from the Darts Performance Centre at the Belfast Darts Academy (A full blog will follow on this session), I was happy with my throw. Well, when I say happy...
‘Don’t be nervous, just go and enjoy it!’
In the final days leading up to the game, the feeling of worry was certainly overshadowing my level of excitement about taking to the stage. With my family and friends all coming to cheer me on, the stakes were fairly high. They were all aware of my goal, and this was the first time I was throwing in front of them.
Everyone kept saying ‘Just enjoy it’, ‘It will be an experience of a life time’; ‘don’t let the nerves get to you’. Of course, all sound advice for anyone who doesn’t throw. But that little voice in my head piped up with the only piece of advice I could hear:
“You’re going to throw 26, EVERY TIME YOU VISIT THE BOARD”.
Paul Mulreid Photography 089-4186574
Time to go to Work
I have said in previous posts that this game wasn’t about beating Barney, but just to stick with him in the leg and not make a show of myself. I want to become a pro, so one day I want a date with the likes of this Dutch man on a regular basis. So I went down to the club two hours early to warm up, and start focussing on the task in hand.
The nerves started to relax a little when I met up with the rest of the throwers. It was as if we were a little army preparing for the fight of our lives, except a couple of us exchanged a soldier suit for a Wayne Mardle shirt, with another pulling on a Holland soccer jersey in tribute.
With the crowd beginning to fill up, we took to our seats. I couldn’t sit down of course, pacing nervously while tensely gripping my darts in anticipation. As he began to pick his way through the batting order, I was suddenly up next. I hear my name called on the microphone, and as I stride towards the stage, I notice there is a smile on my face, one Ronnie Baxter would be proud of.
                                                    Paul Mulreid Photography 089-4186574
Game On
So I am up on stage, and we are throwing a few at the board. I kept telling myself, just stick to the pre-throw routine. My hands were visibly shaking. I was struggling to focus on the treble. I was just about to ask the man himself for the lend of his sweat band when, we were off:
Me                                                       Barney
            (45)                  456                                                      461                  (40)
            (100)                356                                                      340                  (121)
            (45)                  311                                                      281                  (60)
            (45)                  266                                                      227                  (54)
            (23)                  243                                                      142                  (85)
            (40)                  203                                                      77                    (65)
            (60)                  143                                                      20                    (57)
            (45)                  98                                                        Double 10, 2nd Dart
                                                   Paul Mulreid Photography 089-4186574
So as you can see, there were no heroic darts in this leg. Apart from my tonne, I scored 4x 45’s which could and should have been at least 60’s, with the 5 coming on the third dart on three visits.
I won’t make excuses, but I will remain positive. If I am honest, the nerves didn’t sink in until I hit the tonne. Now I suddenly felt a pile of pressure. I had gone from being a goalkeeper in a penalty shootout where no one expects you to save it, to being the striker who should convert. Following up this tonne with anything worth talking about proved too difficult as the legend took out his double 10.
Barney signed my score sheet and as I made my way off stage there was a little part of me that felt I could have won that leg. And that is the most encouraging part of this whole experience. Because this proved something, it wasn’t the climax of this journey, but merely the beginning. Thanks for reading, and as always your feedback is always welcomed.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Patience, you are a virtue...

I feel like I have been talking about playing against Barney for way too long now, and in a matter of days I finally take to the stage against the one and only. I have spoken before about what I want from this encounter. To win would be nice, very nice. But that’s not the objective. For this game, this is just a stepping stone on my path to becoming a pro. Hopefully it will give me a little taster of what professional darts is all about.
So how have I been preparing?
Sports Editor of the Kildare Nationalist newspaper, Brendan Coffey, came down to the club last Friday to play a few legs. On a usual club night, it’s a winner stays on format for the night. And as I am not too used to winning, I tend to be up and off the board fairly soon. Last Friday night however, the club opened up their league campaign with an away trip, so I took full advantage by claiming the board.
I knew it would just be the two of us throwing, and from what Brendan had told me, he plays a little, but not a lot. So first things first; emotionally prepare for the game. I was energised, a little tired after a long week in work but I felt confident I could win. We also had a photographer, Paul Mulreid ( down to take a couple of snaps for a preview of the Barney match.
                                                   Paul Mulreid Photography 089-4186574
The Opening Exchanges
So we both shared a few at the board before setting off on 501 flying start. My confidence was high, and I began at a canter. The pre-throw routine was paying early dividends;
1)      Step up to the board whilst aligning my throwing shoulder at the 20. Check
2)      Raise the left arm to fully extend and lock to the elbow. Check
3)      Draw back my arm from the elbow only, before releasing with a straight
follow through. Check
The only concern I had was my opponent was reaching the 100’s quicker than me, although I did tend to pull out a decent score when it mattered. My double’s were impressive, and found myself 6-2 up in legs.
I would be lying if I didn’t think I was coasting to my first win in such a long format, and my opponent was dead and buried. This is what cost me dearly. I quickly lost my rhythm, the pre-throw routine was thrown out the window and self-belief had suddenly turned to cockiness. I couldn’t find a treble in at least three legs in a row, and I found myself 8-6 behind, losing six in succession.
I was fuming. Everything was going wrong, and on two occasions I flung my third dart at the board out of utter frustration. Then a thought came into my head; get away from the board. Have a cigarette; get a drink, ANYTHING to take a break this despicable run of form.
                                                                   Paul Mulreid Photography 089-4186574
Treble 16... And I meant it!
The break seemed to work; I had a little chat with myself and re-focused on the final few legs. I needed to bring my throw back to basics, and find my routine once more. Ok so I managed to bring the game back to 9-9. This is a scenario I have never experienced before. We have been throwing for over two hours at this stage, and the arm is getting sore.   
We are both down to under a tonne, and I am left with 68. I talk myself through the process; visualise the dart nestling in the treble 16, complete my pre-throw routine and succeed. The first dart is straight in the treble, leaving double 10. Of course I don’t make things easy for myself, and nearly block the bed with my first shot.
Big deep breath... Yes! My final dart rests in the double 10, and I win the match 10-9. This was gruelling, long and a real test ahead of my next night in the club. I learned alot about my emotional strength during this match. I got too confident and lost myself. But I managed to refocus and prevail in the end.
I am going to add a few entries this week in the build up and review of my game against Barney, so keep checking for updates. As always, thanks for reading, and to those offering support it is always appreciated. Big few days coming up...