Study shows how players deal with stress

By Editorial Staff 10/12/2020

How do darts players perform under stress, a study reveals

Playing darts requires a high level of precision and concentration incomparable to how much it is needed in many other sports or games, however you choose to refer to it. There are big darts tournaments like the PDC World Darts Championships which typically takes place at the end of every year. For the 2019 edition of this world championship, the winning prize was 500,000 pounds. Darts are popularly played competitively and to gauge how competitive the professional scene is, all you have to do is look at darts betting odds, which generally have narrow margins.

Competitive darts players and serious darts enthusiasts alike remark about how being good at playing darts means setting aside at least 2-3 hours of practice per session. Darts is about being in control, mental agility, and overall steadiness. It is not difficult to then not wonder if darts players are confronted with the common reality prevalent in many sports where playing under significant amounts of pressure or stress can affect performance.

The claims of empirical studies like this one are two-prong, suggesting on the one hand that on average, the performance of darts players is not often significantly impacted by stress i.e. when under pressure. However, the caveat is that respondents selected for this particular study are professional highly skilled players and as such the result of the study does not corroborate the opinions held by certain players as well as the results of other studies that suggest otherwise.

The arguments for and against the theory of dart players being significantly affected to perform under pressure vary. The hypothesis of “choking” is a major argument from the camp of those who purport that on average, stress may significantly result in choking among darts players. Choking is argued to be what happens when a darts player's performance does not measure up to the time invested in practice and the level of skill acquired over time. In this instance, frustration sets in, and then poor decision-making turns into less than desirable performance.

On the contrary, the opposing argument is that although it can be expected that the performance of darts players declines in stressful situations, on average it is very unlikely that this the case for professional darts players as well as a result of a number of characteristics about the sport. A key characteristic is that darts is a highly standardized game dependent on mobility, precision, and of course practice, as such it is not open to frequent interference or interactions from say team players or opponents, hence it does not lend itself easily to the effects of typical external factors like distractions and non-systematic types of imposed stress.

This study does well to present empirical findings which support the claim that, as a task oriented, highly standardized sport, darts is a sport where players are not often unduly affected by pressure. The study also presents and discusses opposing claims as well as theories such as the social facilitation theory which presents sound arguments untested by the study relating to the impact the presence of an audience may have in enhancing or impairing performance. 

In sum, pressure can sometimes be a good thing, a driving factor in some cases to enhance performance especially when players have practiced well ahead of time and are feeling confident about their readiness. Nevertheless, anyone can have a bad game or succumb to the effect of undue pressure but when it comes to professional tournaments played by experts, these occurrences are the exception rather than the rule.

Featured Pic: SKY




 

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