WHAT a contrast this year has been. It has been a few months to really test the character of every sportsman across the globe. In darts, it’s been no different. We, first of all, had a sudden patch of months off. Then it’s been back to full speed, no fans, fake crowd noise and a solid calendar.
That contrast has presented all sorts of different challenges for every player.
Being stuck in a bubble at tournaments isn’t much fun. Initially, it’s tricky being away from the family for such a huge amount of time. That got to me a bit at the recent Grand Slam, I got a bit emotional especially being a new dad. The other extra element that adds is that you can stew in your own mind on defeats.
There’s no break from that pressure. For instance, we’ve just had three successive weeks on the go. You don’t get any distraction and downtime from the psychological difficulties of defeat. That means you have mental and physical fatigue. I think that has really got to a few players. You heard them talk about it at the Premier League, that day-in, day-out pressure cooker sent a few of the boys a bit stir crazy.
Instead of the normal calendar, it’s been stop and then full-on. That’s a new dynamic for all of us. And to be truthful, only the really mentally strong will deal with the change to practice routines and performing on stage.
I have found my own methods of dealing with different situations. I’ve now got the best back-up team any dart player has in the sport to help me. To be honest I’ve been far too inconsistent over the past few weeks. That has been frustrating to say the least. I started the Grand Slam pretty good with wins over Ian White, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Peter Wright. But then I started far too slowly against Damon Heta in the last 16 and got punished. I did get back into it, it was too late though. That underlines the standard these days. There are so many players who are stepping it up, taking their opportunities.
Trust me, it’s dog eat dog up there! I feel that all the boys are finding it tough to adapt now. Even the elite players are showing inconsistencies.
Darts is more of a level playing field than it has ever been. That’s great news for fans, it’s unpredictable. Personally, I have the best structure and balance than I’ve ever had in my career. I feel very strong. Now it’s just making little tweaks along the way, understanding how my game is evolving.
The advice I get from the former players I work with is priceless. It’s up to me, in the end, to deliver the final performance on the stage. I’m in a very good place as we go towards the World Championship. I know if I produce my best game, I can do some big damage. Let’s go! Devon.
Original column published in Darts World Magazine (Issue 572 Nov/Dec 2020)
Words: Devon Petersen Lead Image: Darts Group
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