Weight gain worries

By AIM180 01/06/2021

NO this is not another article on the dangers of obesity, nor is it a guide to healthy eating for darts players. Instead, we are looking at one of the most popular techniques adopted by players who seek to improve their game or restore former glories.

Over the past decade, we have encountered a number of professional players who have either endured a tough spell or who think that they need to add to their game in order to improve their performance at the higher levels of the game. Almost all of them have flirted, at minimum, with increasing the weight of their equipment. When asked they all repeat the same mantras;

"It will increase my consistency, I need to add some stability"

" A little extra weight will help me increase my doubles percentage" or "As I have gotten older I feel I need more solidity"

Personally, we blame Phil Taylor! The Power made a quantum leap late in his career by adding at least 2 grams to his standard weight. But those who cite Phil's incredible effort forget the most important part of the change. Taylor not only changed weight but also transformed the shape of his arrows. Instead of a heavily gripped parallel or straight barrel, he adopted a bomb shape similar to that of John Lowe. Using Taylor's remarkable reconstruction as an excuse to go from 21 to 23/24g, for no other reason other than hope, is doomed to failure.

Players who have achieved great success with 18-22g darts suddenly seem to think that adding multiple grams will improve their consistency and remove some of the small errors that have crept into their game. Often we find that this is merely a way to avoid tackling actual problems. Such issues can be technical or psychological but are rarely solved with such a blunt tool as weight increases.

We do not oppose change, indeed equipment assessment is a very early part of working with any new player. We have found that subtle changes in grip, flight shape, and even point type can assist players or add a small percentage to their performance.

Older players may find that the sensitivity in their fingers has dulled and thus they may benefit from increasing the grip on their barrel. Elite players may benefit from using older darts in floor events and brand new sets on stage, or the other way around. Newcomers to the game should experiment with various weights and styles during practise and then play matches with the darts that feel most comfortable.

Like all rules or guidelines, there are exceptions. If you use a very light dart (12-17g) you may find that adding small amounts adjusts for natural changes in muscle elasticity due to age. Dennis Priestly gradually increased, from around 13g, over more than a decade, to 17g. Wayne Warren added two grams in the months before his World Championship win, his form had dipped severely over the previous 6 months, however, this was prompted by a wrist injury.

So before you take the easy option and 'blame your tools' try smaller steps first. Make any changes one at a time and give every change a fair opportunity, in all conditions, to succeed or fail.

Our experience, working with professionally ta; talented players, has shown that subtle grip changes, minimal profile adjustments, and working on general confidence and relaxation are far more effective than dramatic weight gain.

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