Darts Coach -Get some S.M.A.R.T goals

Darts Coach -The importance of S.M.A.R.T goals

Progression – Left foot, right foot.

This session will go through the progression phases we go through as we strive towards our ultimate goals. I  will also introduce S.M.A.R.T goals. 

Progression is a 3 step process which is can be best explained as an evolution from idea to execution.

Step 1 - You set a goal and begin planning how you are going to achieve that goal.

Step 2 – You begin working towards the goal, training the body to deliver the technical aspects required.

Step 3 – Your progress gives you the confidence to play at the goal level consistently, establishing a new “standard” of play.

But unless you are actively taking statistics on your game, you will never see the progress. As such your mind will always be re-forecasting goals as you narrow in on your goals.

It is important to understand how progression works. If you are an average player and you play an exceptional leg, this is delivery on preparation. This is not raising your standard!

There is no shortcut to reaching the top tiers of play, however, even the humblest of people see the standout moment and think they can compete at higher levels or they have reached their current goals.

Sadly this is not the case and here is where most coaches lose players. 

If you hit an 11 dart leg, it means everything came together at the right time for you. Think of it as a reward for effort and a peer into the future. 

It is unlikely you have magically added 3 points to your dart average in an instant or had a eureka moment.

I tell my players to look at the night overall and tell me how they went, though most will focus on the 11 dart leg. An overall average may have been down, or on par, win percentage and darts at doubles may have been on par with other weeks. However, if you play an 11 dart leg instead of a 20, your numbers should be up by 3-4 points. 

               1503÷60 = 25.05 (75.15)

               1503÷51 = 29.47 (88.41)


There are 2 trains of thought for players when the “glimpse” of the future shines.


Player 1

The player throws an 11 dart leg …. However, they will often average less than normal for the night. The player will often think of the 11 dart leg in isolation wondering how the overall “standard” was lower and is likely to expect more of themselves in the next match.

Player 2

Player 2 wants to average X for the event. At the end of play they think “that was rubbish” had 1 good leg, but when they look at the numbers, they have reached/exceeded their goal. 

Player 1 is focused on the mental portion of the game in so far as picturing a goal translating into confidence. However, when expectation and confidence collide, there is a larger chance of failure. 

Player 2 has a goal in mind and working with physical attributes to deliver the desired outcome. When the physical delivery of expectation is reached, the mental game will push on ahead to the next marker while the physical aspects hone their requirements.

The easiest way to describe the 2 elements is;

               Mental = Progress

               Physical = Standard

When your physical delivery meets your plan, you set a new standard. 

Progress will always operate in the cycle of mental first, then physical development to meet the expectations of the mental game. Left foot, right foot…..repeat.

If you focus too much on 1, you will walk a lot slower. So keep marching to the beat!

How does it work?

When you set a goal, your brain will start to calculate the bodies requirements to deliver. I want do X, however, I have to fix Y in my game to improve my technique.

During practice, you are throwing with a specific goal in mind and your body starts realigning your biomechanical calculations to match expectation.

Physical practice sets muscle memory and your technique will start to refine, meaning less wasted movements and gaining control over your throw.

As your physical game begins delivering on your goals, your mental game will start forecasting the next series of goals. (often without you knowing)


I can’t stress enough the importance of S.M.A.R.T goals or equivalent systems.

Make sure you set goals that are;

               Strategic – Plan your goals

               Measurable – Use stats to support your progress

               Attainable – make them smaller to reach more milestones.

               Result-Orientated – No excuses, just work.

               Time-Bound – timeframe for delivery.

There are plenty of goal-setting support sites like available on-line. 

 ( I think The Art of Manliness blog has some really good advice on this- Emma from Shot) 

Using a goal-based system will reduce mental fatigue and frustration. It can also promote confidence by achieving goals and seeing progress.

Plan your goals.

Practice your technique.

Monitor your progress.

Progress = confidence.

Confidence = replication.

Replication = standard.

Happy darts

Raymond Smith