Welcome to The Best Lack All Conviction Blog
This blog is not about anything other than the things I want to write about.
For a long time this blog tried to be about darts and may yet again talk about darts
but for now it is about whatever suits my fancy.
If that entertains, engages or inspires you, then I guess we are in good company.
My sister also has a blog that is written by her pet border collie.
Callum the Border Collie ands his Autistic Human
Please following her page and showing her some support. She has been having a tough time since our mother passed due to cancer.
The plan was to phase out league play so I could save up and play in ranked tournaments. The Marion Carli Memorial tournament back in June was supposed to be the first, but that was not to be as I was robbed of my ability to walk by transverse myelitis.
With time and therapy my ability to walk got better and better, going from using a walker to now, where I just need a cane.
I accepted that the Marion Carli tournament had come and gone, and instead set my sites on the Find a Part Classic in Waterloo that is happening this very weekend.
Sadly however my life is in flux, and because of my current level of ability I am not really able to be employed at my job anymore, effectively being forced to retire by a fluke disease from a job I did for 17 years.
The future though is positive as I look forward to training, learning, finding something new, but for right now, money is tight and no tournament for me.
This is all incredibly disappointing and frustrating, but it is also life.
I now have the Bob Jones memorial tournament to look forward to, next month in Trenton. It looks to be bigger than either of the tournaments I missed.
You know that through all of the ups and downs I have been practicing and have been trying to practice intelligently. My darts I feel are the best they have ever been, and that I have improved more in my baseline ability in the last year than the previous five years combined.
Yet, if I do make it to the Bob Jones (which is still very much up in the air) how will my own personal 'best ever' even hope to hold up to experienced and nationally ranked players?
Why put the effort in anyway?
Well because I am throwing the best I ever have,and playing in a competitive manner, is how I enjoy the game, and that playing great players is an opportunity to learn and grow, to get knocked down and get back up again, stronger and wiser. Because, I believe in myself, believe that I can be the best, my best , because that is the only best I am responsible for.
Because, as much as it can frustrate me, I love this game.
Because there is a prophecy.
Setbacks be damned.
Please wish me luck making it out to the Bob Jones Tournament.
I was very lucky to have Canadian darts star Jeff Smith take a bit of time out of his busy schedule to have a quick chat with me. Here is how it went down.
DBC: 1. I think as a whole dart players are known for being more approachable than other sports, but with you it seems to go to a whole other level. I mean I wouldn't have been surprised to see you responding to tweets between throws in your Lakeside final. How important is it to you to be engaged with your fans, and how much of it is 'strategy' and how much of it is just being a Canadian guy from New Brunswick?
Jeff: Without the fans, there would be no money to drive the sport. I've always been a people person, and try to represent myself as well as my sponsors to the best of my ability. East Coast Canadians are known as friendly people though .
DBC: YoYou seem to be getting a lot of good support from your sponsors, and in turn doing a good job of representing them. (I have purchased two shirts so far from Projoy that I am very happy with, and I 100% found out about Projoy through you), but as far as your major sponsor Winmau, how does the gig all work?
Jeff: I've had some great sponsors along my path to date.. but Winmau along with British Darts, and Projoy have been awesome for me. All are very supportive, but also I feel offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to quality and prices. But it really is a true honour to see your face on box that has got Winmau's name on it.
DBC: Your darts seem to be very popular as well, which must be exciting. Are there any plans for other Jeff Smith dart designs? Would you want there to be if Winmau was open to it?
Jeff: I'm sure other designs will come down the road, but as of now the current design feels like I've been using them for the last 10 years. I wanted something different but for a traditional throwing style. The colourful coating is a stand out, but gives them a nice grip also.
DBC: It looks like you've maybe been doing a little coaching with Dawson Murschell, who certainly impressed a lot of people recently in Las Vegas, including PDC boss Barry Hearn. How did this come about, and what is it that you like most about Dawson's game?
Jeff: Yes I've been not so much coaching, as just offering guidance on how he can help himself.. All the stuff I learned as I went. He came from Canada's youth program like myself, and I admire his passion and dedication to the game.
DBC: What do you think is the number one thing people get wrong when trying to get better at darts? (bad habits, bad practice, misconceptions etc.)
Jeff: For me its the way people practice. 5 hrs of bad darts is still bad darts. Practice in short sessions. (5-15 mins). And practice on parts of your game that needs it.. No sense in beating that triple 20 to death, when its double 9 you struggle with in a game.
DBC: ..and for me who is making the jump from mostly league play to my first real tournament in September. I am going mostly for the experience, but do want to play up to my own capabilities. The biggest thing standing in the way of that is going to be nerves. What would your advice be on staying calm cool and collected while on the oche?
Jeff: Nerves was my biggest hurdle. But its what keeps you coming back to conquer them. Only way you beat that, is practice and prepare right. Then keep putting yourself in those situations, until you find yourself getting comfortable. I do miss those days.
DBC: Right now you are playing at a pretty high level. Is practice right now just a matter of maintaining that standard, or is there room for Jeff Smith to get even better as a dart player?
Jeff: My practice routines don't need any adjustments.. balancing my schedule between work, family, darts is my biggest hurdle. So its a struggle to improve much more in my current situation.
DBC: You've also been playing a fair bit of soft tip of late. How did soft tip get you hooked?
Jeff: Soft tip hooked me when I seen the money driving behind it. I play TOC sanctioned events, obviously to qualify for that $1,000,000.00+ cad event in October. The system in total pays out over $5 million usd, to me that is worth expanding your playing horizons. Not to mention I can now play players from all over the world any day of the week
DBC: OK I just had to double check all those zeros. Clearly steel tip tournaments in North America are not getting anywhere near this in terms of prize money. Is there any hope of this getting fixed? ( It isn't like darts isn't a popular sport, so where are the sponsors? )
Jeff: Steel tippers in North America just hate to pay to play, right down to local leagues. Soft tip pays put huge pots, because every game played cost money to use it. Theres too much emphasis on the fun part of the game in North America for sponsors to ever take it seriously. To bring in the big money involves TV, but until we have something marketable standard wise.. likely not going to happen on our own. The US Masters is a great start though.
DBC: Recently in Las Vegas I thought that the Canadian darters held up fairly well. In your opinion what is the state of Canadian darting and what would be needed for it to truly flourish?
Jeff: There are many great players in Canada, but unfortunately theres no justifiable money in it to play cross country. Over the last 4-5 years, theres been only 1 person (men's side) who has spent mega money to get the #1 spots and its invites. I tried this year, and achieved NDFC #1 but the scheduling of majors on regional tourneys has meant no Lakeside this year.. Unless I come through BDO Rankings or the Qualifier. So we need our organization more accountable when scheduling our events.
DBC: Will there be another Canadian World Champion in our lifetime?
Jeff: Its hard to say at this point, as the standard continues to increase.. but there are some great talented young players coming. It will be up to them to show the dedication required.
So there you have it! What do you say darters of Canada,up for the challenge?
Thank you all as always for reading and a big thank you to Jeff for taking the time to do this.
Please check out Jeff's sponsors Winmau British Darts Projoy
Now before I get in to any of what has been going on, for those of you who are reading this and are not a dart player, or have never thought about playing beyond your friend's house or local leagues, being a dart player, as a professional or semi-professional or even at a National level, in Canada (and all of North America really) takes travel. Lots and lots and lots of travel, as events can be literally thousands of kilometers and yet only days apart. Especially if you are also travelling overseas to compete like Jeff Smith needs to do, while very visibly representing Canada where he goes over very well with the British crowd as darting ambassador for the Great White North.
Jeff (nicknamed the silencer) is in fact the most successful representative Canada has had in the darting world since John Part became world champion an amazing three times, with quarter final, and final appearances in the legendary Lakeside darts championship, after coming in as an unseeded player.
Jeff, for all his darting glory is mild mannered, approachable, polite and friendly. Everything you would want a Canadian sports ambassador to be. Oh I am sure he enjoys his success, but so would you or I, and for all of it this New Brunswick resident, Oilers fan and family man is still pretty darn down to earth.
You would think that all of this would be enough to not get shafted by a major airline.
I follow Jeff on social media and for a while have been watching his frustrations with Air Canada unfold.
The basic gist of it I can maybe better put in to Jeff's own words
"Air Canada is ridiculous.. They left me stranded back in May in Montreal over night with no compensation for the hotel I had to book. I was so mad, I cancelled my flight to Chicago that I had 2 tickets booked. Supervisor said I would get a full travel credit to use within a year that no refund would be given. So just went to use the travel credit, they said there's a $210 per ticket change fee thats over 60% of the price of the tickets I lose..
Now before any of you jump to any conclusions about Jeff being a spoiled "Out of Touch" celebrity, I should point out that this is a guy, who right before he is about to play in the final for the world championship is responding on social media to his family, friends and fans back home, thanking them for their support and in many cases responding personally. No, Jeff may enjoy some small amount of celebrity, but he is no prima donna. In fact,despite being lucky enough to have a couple of sponsors to help offset the costs Jeff despite his overseas success and having reached a number one status in Canada does not live off of darts and has to also put in time at his auto-body shop just to keep it all going.
So Jeff is spending a lot of time away from home and his family and spending tons and tons on air travel, sometimes for his own glory but also often enough representing Canada and Canadian darts.
Now I am not saying that this is reason that Jeff get any kind of special treatment, but rather that he not be given the run around.
Amusingly (but also sadly) as part of the exchange between Jeff and his fans on Facebook, Air Canada was frequently tagged, and much to everyone's surprise and delight finally responded and invited Jeff to contact them in a private message. We were all (and I think Jeff included) expecting there to finally be a resolution and for everyone to walk away happy. Jeff would get his refund/credit and Air Canada would mitigate some of the massive damage being done to their reputation.
Sadly, this was not to be so.
Instead they tell him he needs to respond to an email from their 'customer relations department' and then more or less scold him for trying to seek some sort of recourse through 'social media channels'.
Now,I might be missing something here, and I understand division of labour within a company, but with a company as large and wealthy as Air Canada, it boggles my mind that their customer relations department does not have a social media presence. I would expect them to be more or less the same department, but not so for Air Canada. The result being that they almost look good for responding, until you learn that the problem is that customer is just doing it wrong, in a message that could only be termed terse.
This may yet all still be unfolding but I think Jeff has pretty much given up.
If this is how Air Canada treats a Canadian hero, I would be afraid to see how you or I would fair.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that Air Canada comes to their senses. Kind of makes you wish that our top dart players got a little more support in general.
For a long time, I have understood that one of the biggest impediments to getting from where I was to where I might be is that I would get done in by nerves, by tightening up, by trying too hard. It was (in it's various forms) the pressure.
In order to remedy that I asked a lot of friends, I went to a bunch of forums and websites, consulted a guru or two, and even read a book or two on sports psychology (darts or otherwise) and amongst all the positive self talk and imagery of conquest and glory, the most common advice on how to deal with it, was to actually immerse yourself in it. make your practices tough and as close to competition as possible, play tough opponents as often as you can and so on.
This is all good advice, and while there are also other aspects that I think are equally important, it is still the advice I would share with others. There was, however still one tiny ingredient that was missing, and once I realized it, it made all the difference in the world.
That is, I simply was not good enough. It didn't matter how often I played against a great player, if they made a great shot I could maybe match it, if they made a couple, well then I knew my ability to keep up dwindled.
At first I thought this was purely nerves, but then over time I realized that yes, it was nerves, but it was also that I lacked intrinsic confidence, not in my ability to compete, but in my shot itself. This in turn became a barrier to dealing with competition nerves in an ongoing negative cycle.
I mean, no matter how many times you go to battle, bringing a toothpick to a claymore fight has got to be unnerving!
I'll leave the specifics of how I did the 'getting better' to a future post but if you wanted a hint at the 'one simple trick' it involved focus, patience and practice but I think (hope) most of you already knew that. It also involves a fair amount of belief. Not just the 'one day I will be able to' belief that I already had a good supply of, but the I can do it and do it now sort of belief, which is harder to cultivate.
Now that is not to say that I am ready to play the likes of John Part or Raymond Van Barneveld (although that would be totally cool) I still have friends that I get a little wobbly kneed playing against. No I am not free from nerves and psychological distractions at all, but I am a lot, lot better at it. For the times that it is there, I just accept it as a normal part of competition. What I do have, on my side, is an increased confidence in my throw and what it is capable of, and knowing that I have a fairly good chance of delivering consistently enough to always be a threat. (at least to other players in and around my level).
What about all of you? Is this helpful or something you know/did ages ago? Did you have any of your own 'I get it' moments that helped you become a better darter? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!
Notice To Subscribers
I am in the process of manually setting up the mail outs for subscribers. Some of you may have received the latest episode in two different emails. Moving forward you should receive emails from '[email protected] only. if you have not received this email, please check your junk email folder. If you can please indicate i the comments whether this email got to you OK.
Sorry for the mix up with the double email.
I have decided that I needed to change the name of the blog to better reflect it's darts focus. It will now be called 'Dart Board Chats'. The web address remains the same. Hope you will stick around as many more join us!
Consistency In Darts
One of the most popular topics in darts, is that of consistency. Everyone wants more of it but not everyone is 100% on the same page on exactly what it is or how to get it.
Now I am no expert myself, otherwise you might have seen me on TV by now, but I do have my own insights on the topic and thought I'd share them now.
I think when people say they want 'consistency' that they are talking about staying within a certain variable of error in terms of where the darts land on the board, and for that to align as closely as possible to how they throw in practice and/or during their best games. In other words, the ability to consistently and reliably deliver the dart to it's target.
This is how I personally am trying to get there...
OK, I hope that was helpful or made you think a little bit about your own approaches to this topic. I'd love to hear some of your ideas in the comments below!
Thank you, as always for reading!
"The Prophecy" Dave Fox Sproull