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     WSOD Player's Survival Guide

    National Darts NewsHey gang, first of all thank you so much for the kind posts and well wishes. My phone literally rang off the hook today with congrats from all parts of the country. Darters are really amazing people and the support has been just overwhelming.

    So in the spirit of good will among darters i just wanted to take a minute and put down a few thoughts on how to get through a qualifier of this sort. I know many of you are planning to attend upcoming events and hopefully by sharing my experience it may help you prepare a bit more.

    When your practicing try to incorporate the conditions your going to play under. If your shy in front of a video camera get someone to film you practicing. Set up some lights pointed at you from your board (the TV light are aggressive). Get used to a caller, announcing your every shot. The DVDs I used where great for this as well as getting used to crowd noise and applause each shot. If you drink or smoke make sure to practice without the aid of these. And finally, crank up the heat where you practice, it must have been over 90degrees for the early action in Chicago.

    Dress Code:
    Practice in the clothes your planning to wear to the qualfier. I was lucky in that I got to wear what I usually do at tournaments. But if your used to playing in flip flops and shorts the change may affect you. The shoes are important too, if you dont wear dress shoes often it may be a good idea to break those dogs in.

    I generally both drink and smoke at tournaments. Drinking wasnt much of an issue as I usually just drink ice water during singles anyway. Smoking for me was more of an issue. If you smoke I suggest investing in some nicorette gum. I had a pack with me though I never actually chewed a piece. There was however a level of comfort in knowing it was there if I felt the need. By the way, even if you dont smoke get a pack and sell them it was a big hit among the smokers in Chicago.

    This is best of 7 legs folks. If your used to regular ADO tournament this means someone essentially has to beat you two back to back matches. Dont get discouraged if you get down a few legs. This is a more forgiving format, but with the alternating starts its important to hold serve. Remember all you really need to do is hold your starts and break them once and you move on.

    Dont sweat the numbers in the event or which "Big Names" are in attendance. Even with 197 entries in Chicago I only played 7 or 8 rounds. Remember your only going to have to win 6-8 matches. And you have no control over who you play, though most likely your only going to play one or two of those big names anyway. Above all dont lose to the situation, play the game and let the chips fall where they may. Its just darts and youve done it a million times before.

    Okay this one was tough I think for many people. The thought of being on ESPN I think swept a few people away. Stay in the moment. Remember to control your mind and keep attention on what you are doing not whats going on around you. Alot of this will be foreign to you, try to concentrate on things familiar. A friendly face in the crowd, the way you twist your darts, looking at your shoes etc etc. It really doesnt matter what you use but make sure you have mental ammunition to counter the "OMG this is going on national TV nerves" that will try to bite you.

    This is going to be a fairly long day. Make sure to get a good nights rest the night before. I actually got 9hours sleep for the first time since I cant remember when. I felt so good Sunday morning I didnt know what to do with myself. Also, get a good breakfast even if you usually dont eat in the morning your going to need this food energy to stay alert all day. I was lucky enough to have alot of good friends with me that took care of bringing me food. I suggest eat small light meals throughout the day to keep your energy level as equal as possible.

    The Wait Board:
    Before the top64 they had a wait board set up to let you know if your on deck. I personally dont like to know who im playing next. But I did want to know if I was going to be called soon. If you like me get a friend to check and see if your on it but not tell you the opponent. Either way pay attention to this its a good gauge as to when to warm up. Open boards were scarce the first 3 rounds and the wait was somewhat lengthy. I actually at one point went back to my hotel room and tossed a few at the pillow. But if you pay attention and walk around you can usually get 9-12 darts on a board between others matches. Normally there is going to be at least one board in transition throughout the day. I call this vulture practicing. LOL

    Wow this was my biggest mistake. I was so incredibly nervous in the morning I actually threw up 6 times!! Throwing up isnt rare for me though, ive thrown up before every basketball game, martial arts competition, and dart tournament Ive ever played in I think. But because I built this event up so much in my head those butterflys were rabid eagles Sunday morning. I guess the moral is if you feel nervous imagine the shape I was in and if I could make it through so can you. Oh and one other little secret no one wants to share is they are all nervous some just wont admit it. Personally, I just embrace the nerves and dont try to fight them. I say to myself "Im nervous! Good, now Im alive and I can play 100%".

    The finals:
    Okay youve gotten to the last match and things change. Your going to play and a "Stage board". There is going to be super aggressive TV lights facing you from both the upper left and right of the dartboard. There is going to be a caller announcing everyone one of your shots allow with your opponents scores. And there is going to be a ton of cameras. Expect stage hands to come and pat your face down etc prior to the finals as well.

    As long as I looked directly at the board the lights werent a problem. However if I went to check the scores it was somewhat blinding. Be aware of this in warm ups and plan out where you can and cant look.

    There is going to be a camera behind a curtain next the board opposite the chalker. This camera IS going to move almost constantly. When the camera moves that curtain will wave as well. This was probably the most distracting thing for me to overcome in the finals.

    Above all have fun but dont get too wrapped up in "looking good". Keep the same attitude youve held all day, nothing changes. Its just another match and play it with all the same focus and intensity that got you there.

    The interview:
    Congrats youve qualified!! You are now going to go through a series of interviews. I was not prepared at all and borked it all up really. ESPN did about a half hour interview with me and it wasnt until the end I realized I needed to phrase my answers as a statement. Meaning repeat the question back in your answer in some form. If you have something specific your going to want to say make sure to have it in mind before hand. My mind was a complete blank and there was many many things I wish I had said. Above all show your personality, America wants characters and we have alot of them in the dart community. Scrap the "Im just happy to be here line". Take a stand, take a chance, and be yourself.

    One last note:
    Dont pressure yourself into thinking you have to play 12 dart games all day to win. I won with mostly 15-18 darters with occassional 21 and 12 darters sprinkled in. I dont remember all the finals scores though someone did grab the last leg scoresheet for me. But I dont remember any really super games they were probably all around 18 darts.

    On the final double, I said to myself "Just like a million others youve hit in your life".

    Not many people would have picked me to win that qualifier. But ultimately, I believed in myself and surrounded myself by great friends that support me 100%. If I can make it through that way, you can too. Its just a matter of believing it possible and executing the plan.

    Goodluck, I hope this helps and I hope to see more Sewa at the finals in May!

    Note: Thanks to Dave DePreist, WSOD Qualifier, for sharing this awesome 'Survival Guide' with the community! I had to post it here as it deserves front page attention. Erik

    Associated Topics

    Dart TournamentsDarts & Stuff of InterestGeneral Dart TopicsNational Darts NewsNews for Dart Players

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