Tag Archives: Coaching

The Myth Of Adding Gramms

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

Over the past decade, AIM has encountered a number of professional players who have either endured a tough spell or who think that they need to add something 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 arrows. 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 and his entire setup. Instead of a heavily gripped parallel barrel, he adopted a bomb shape similar to that of John Lowe.

Using the Stoke legend’s remarkable reconstruction as an excuse to go from, say, 20 to 23/24g, for no reason other than hope, is doomed to failure. Players who have achieved great success with 18-21g 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.

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. But we always ask: What is the perceived problem? What do you want to change? Why do you want to change it? How will you measure its success?

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 practice and then play matches with the darts that feel most comfortable.

Dennis gently moved up, from 13g to 17g, throughout his storied career.



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 Priestley (Above) gradually increased the weight of his darts, 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, although 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 of working with highly talented players has shown that subtle grip changes, minimal profile adjustments, and working on confidence and relaxation are far more effective than dramatic weight gain. Again, in darts, as in life.

—–ENDS—–
Article originally appears in Darts World Magazine (Issue 574) order yours now!

The English Can Coach!

With the recent end of the 2015/6 Premier League, the headcount of English managers is at an all time low. Three English coaches are in place with clubs that retain their top flight status.

Eddie Howe has done a tremendous job with Bournemouth, Alan Pardew has kept Palace in the division whilst reaching the FA Cup final and Sam Allardyce has, yet again, performed a minor miracle in keeping Sunderland afloat for another year.
To be completely fair, others including Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes are from these Isles and have spent their playing/coaching careers here. Sean Dyche and  Steve Bruce will re-enter the battle for 2016/7.

But one look at any shortlist for clubs in the market provides reason to conclude that ‘big Sam Allerdicci’ has a point when he claims the odds are stacked against Englishmen in terms of opportunity. It seems that big clubs, and many others, believe that only foreign or non-British managers can encourage a culture of passing football, cope with a big club and develop players into valuable assets.

Not only is it a nonsense claim, Eddie Howe has built a club culture of the highest order, Dyche inspires and develops in equal measure and Sam himself organises a club better than many,he has taken over from foreign managers and had to sort out awful messes more than once!

It is very easy to forget the lessons of sporting history. English managers have coached clubs and nations all over the globe and produced exceptional results:

Sir Bobby Robson:

PKT5141-380922 SIR ROBERT (BOBBY) ROBSON FOOTBALL MANAGER 1990 It was almost the final question of my last major Press conference which encapsulated the highs and lows l have experienced in the last eight years as the manager of England. 'This may seem funny coming from a newspaper like mine,' said the reporter from The Sun. 'But have you enjoyed the last eight years?' The query raised a few giggles from the audience of newspaper, radio and television journalists on that morning after England had succumbed so cruelly to West Germany in the World Cup semi-final. ln eight years l have learnt to pause for thought before replying to what might appear on the surface to be the most innocuous of questions. 'Technically,' l replied, 'l have enjoyed every minute of it, particulary the big match occasions. 'This is a big job abd the man filling it in is going to be subjected to all kinds of stresses and strains. If he can handle it he can get on with the job. If he can't then it will defeat him. It's been a lovely experience and l mean that in all sincerity. lt's been nice to work at the highest level in my industry. lt's been lovely to work with a prepare the best players to play against the best opponents. It's been marvellous to pit my wits against the other coaches similarly at the peak of their profession.

Fulham, Ipswich Town, England, PSV, Barcelona, Sporting & Porto, Newcastle.
Try telling fans at any of the above clubs that the English can’t coach/manage. Robson achieved minor miracles with Ipswich and qualified England for two World Cups reaching qtr and semi finals. Still our best results away from home.

But in case the reader thinks he could only cope with English football, a trip to Lisbon will swiftly correct that notion. Nick-named ‘Bobby 5-0’ by Porto fans, due to the number of 5-0 wins only leaving the club, after two league championship wins, due to Barcelona calling. Again, at Barca Robson, was highly rated and won three trophies in his only full season. Following his spell as England boss he claimed the Dutch league with PSV and even his brief emergency return to Eindhoven ended with them qualifying for the Champions League.

Sir Bobby proved himself in each type of football and across the continent of Europe, combining success with ambassadorial skills of the highest level. He even managed to restore some glory and common sense to the basket case that is Newcastle United!
Yes, this Englishman could coach a bit.

Brian Clough

clough black and white
Hartlepools, Derby County, Brighton, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest.

Enough words have been written about OBE (Ol’ big ed) to fill any other managers office. They would do well to read them.

At Derby County, Clough took a small unsuccessful provincial club and won the league title. He crashed into the European Cup and was only denied in a quarter-final now accepted as totally corrupt.
Not to be discouraged, by being cheated, and later sacked in controversial circumstances, Clough repeated the trick with another East Midlands club.

The name of Nottingham Forest appears on the top division roll of honour in England and twice in a row on the European Champions Cup. Moulding players others rejected or deemed manageable, was his Clough’s speciality.
But the idea that he did not coach or think about what was needed to win is errant nonsense. Forest’s style in winning the European Cup was entirely different to that employed in winning the English league. He, and Peter Taylor, had worked out exactly how to play against mighty sides of the time and emerged triumphant almost every time. Clough’s other gift was that he made payers believe that they could do anything and were better than anyone else. Then each were given a simple job to do. The model concentrated more on Clough’s sides assets, than the strength of the opposition.

Sadly we will never know how he would have adapted to International football. My hunch is that he would have taken to it like a duck to water. Imagine an England side with the confidence to play and the belief they were as good as anyone in the world, it would have taken an awful lot to stop them.

Terry Venables

El Tel. Leading England with style in Euro 1996

El Tel. Leading England with style in Euro 1996

Crystal Palace, QPR, Barcelona, England and Spurs

It is often forgotten that “El Tel” was the first player to represent England at every level available. Whilst going through a wide-ranging playing career Tarry Venables applied his shrewd mind to coaching from an early stage. His first opportunity in management showed his approach. Combining select signings with his own youth players who he had coached through the club. As a result he took Crystal Palace to the top division from the 3rd tier within three years. They briefly lead the division, for only time in their history, finally finishing in solid mid table. Moving to second division QPR was brave but resulted in promotion, a cup final and finally a fifth place finish and qualification for Europe. Spanish eyes were now smiling on Venables.

The history of FCB is littered with legends of football. Michels, Cruyff, Rykaard, Ronaldo, Messi and even Maradona (briefly). It should therefore be to Terry’s huge credit that Barcelona came calling for him due to his reputation for success, style and coaching ability.

Although his reign could be viewed as mixed, his successes were remarkable. His side won FCB’s first league for 11 years and reached its first European final for over twenty years. Lineker and Hughes were  successful imports and the club was propelled back onto the major stages again.

In an age dominated by Liverpool, Venables return to England put Spurs straight back into the limelight and they did not disappoint. The club is as famed for entertainment as winning and Terry lived up to both. Lineker and Gascoigne ensured goals and skill were aplenty. The highlights included an FA cup win and 3rd place in the top division.

England Calling.

Quite simply Venables coached an England side, that previously were not highly regarded, to the semi finals of a major tournament and was only defeated on penalties. He picked players others thought were risky or unsuitable. Stuck by his players through thick and thin. Venables found a way of making all his best players play together and produced entertaining attacking football of a type not produced by England since.

Venables lasting football monument is the recording of England vs Holland in Euro 96. A 4-1 win over a Dutch side, favoured to succeed, is simply a superb piece of coaching and man management. Shearer and Sherringham are superb. Gazza is off the leash and unstoppable and everyone else knows exactly what job to do and does it perfectly.

Only the English FA could dispense with his services following such a tournament.

Vic Buckingham

vic_buckingham_ajax-nl1

Before Rinus Mikels, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, there was Vic Buckingham. Englishmen have been quite a strong influence in the foundation and development of Barcelona with Buckingham being one of the first and finest.

Some things are best stated in simple terms, Vic Buckingham managed West Bromwich Albion, Ajax of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Sevilla & Olympiacos, all before 1976. At all of these clubs he achieved some success and instituted youth programs and philosophies of football ahead of their time. West Brom won the FA Cup and were runners-up in the League ( almost The Double for West Brom!) Ajax won the Dutch league and Barcelona won the Spanish Cup.

This chap could coach/manage! Ajax asked him back for a second spell, during which Mr Cruyff made his debut and both Johan and his mentor Rinus Mikels held Buckingham in the highest regard. Strangely he barely is acknowledged in his UK homeland and only recently has some credit begun to find its way.

Roy Hodgson

roy-hodgson-profile (1)

It has proven easy for the English press to denegrate Hodgson as a bit of a stuffed shirt. An FA yes man who has more in common with your Grandad than he does with the sexy super coaches in the style of Mourhino et al. Yet even a cursory glance at Hodgson’s CV will reveal a rounded coach of huge experience and no little success.

Hodgson’s first managment job was in Sweden, he took a side almost relegated the year before and won the league title. He repeated the feat a couple of years later. After a brief spell at financial disaster that was Bristol City, Hodgson returned to Sweden where he would eventually take charge of Malmo. Beggining in 1985 Hodgson oversaw a remarkable spell at the club. Five League Titles, two cups and decent European including the European Cup Winners Cup defeat of Inter MIlan in 1989. Roy is held in very high regard in Malmo and known to fans as Royson.

International Management

Soon Hodgson was asked to coach Switzerland, after a successful spell in club management there, whom had not qualified for a major event since 1966. Roy rectified that at the first attempt, from a tough group, then managing to reach the knock out stages of the 1994 world cup in the USA. He easily qualified the side for Euro 96 and would have been in strange position of managing against his home country in the opening game. However as soon as qualification was secured Hodgson left to take over at Inter Milan. Switzerland were at the time ranked 3 in the fifa rankings!

Inter Milan

Speaking about Hodgson’s time at Inter, club president Massimo Moratti said: “Roy Hodgson was an important person in the development of Inter Milan to the point we have reached today. He saved us at the right time. When he came we were in trouble and things appeared dark. He didn’t panic, he was calm and made us calm. Disaster was averted at the most important time. Everyone at Inter will remember him for that and his contribution. He is considered by us all as an important person in our history. He left an endowment to this club that’s important in our history.”

It is fair to say that after this followed a eclectic spell in Hodgsons career, manging in Norway, Italy, Finland and United Arab Emerites to name a few.

A surprise return to England came with Fulham, He rescued them from relegation in the first season and built what began to look like a decent outfit. A remarkable 7th place finish the next year led Fulham into the new Europa League. An astounding run led all the way to the final, with a recovery from 1-4 to defeat Juve being the highlight.

Hodgson was voted manager of the year in England by a record margin. It appeared that all the knowledge gained across the world coaching, managing and even as a director of football, was finally being translated into success in his homeland. A move to a big club was finally offered. Hodgson took over at Liverpool in time for the 2010/11 season.

Sadly, due to an unusual background story, club legend ignored in managerial appointment, and never seeming to quite have the personality for the job , the two parted in January 2011. Hodgson was swiftly taken on by West Bromwich Albion, and immediately produced superb results again, soon finishing in the top 8 and producing quality players and good football.

In a repeat of the a situation from 1983/4 ( Clough & Robson) England again recruited the safe pair of hands whilst the public clamoured for the more colourful character. This time Hodgson was the beneficiary of the FA’s conservative outlook, whilst Harry Redknapp was left to rue what might have been.

So far Hodgson has done a steady job with England, qualifications have been achieved and decent performances put in. Tournament results have been mixed. With Euro 2012 regarded as a qualified success and the 2014 World Cup as a failure.

The Euro’s of 2016 will be, perhaps the final, testing ground for this world traveller of a coach from the heart of England!

 

Era of the Super Coach? True Beginnings.

lemdl and murray

A few years ago a top British sportsman took an innovative approach to a problem he had been experiencing in his chosen field. The results of that decision make it appear as if it was an easy one and that success would certainly follow. Yet at the time the decision, to appoint a new coach/manager, was not universally applauded and brought much doubt and some derision from those within the game.

Ranked in the world’s top five, our hero was unfortunate enough to live in a truly great era of the game. He had come through with staggering early success and bright things were predicted almost instantly. True, he had reached a couple of finals and the later stages of major events. He was making a good living and by most measures would have been considered a great player. Yet the big titles had eluded him, the runner up spots were not as frequent as previously and he seemed to have come to a halt in the progression of what had been predicted to be a glittering career.

As with many a sporting star before him he had hit a glass ceiling, natural talent had taken him so far, the encouragement of family and friends, together with their support when needed, had played a vital role. Yet the progress made, from precocious teenager to mature professional, had stuttered and as the player cast around for a way, to make the next step, a need for someone with experience of his situation, someone who had come through such an era , someone who triumphed and survived and someone for whom he had respect and would listen too.

Meanwhile a former champion was working on the margins of his sport. Having lived through a golden era he was now watching with great interest as his sport enjoyed a new lease of life, with the greatest players, huge TV coverage, bigger sponsorships and thriving in difficult financial times. He began to feel that he could play more of a role in the game again and could perhaps contribute some of his knowledge and experience.

This happy coincidence resulted, despite much cynical comment, in huge success. After a settling period, of a few months, the player reached another major final and in an event where there was huge pressure to do better than before. The next true test came at the very highest level in the sport. Sensationally he triumphed and became his sports very best. The following year more titles and runners up places were grabbed before a second highly emotional triumph, at the British home of his sport, was achieved.

Eventually, with the main aims achieved, the pair were unable to continue their unusual and remarkably successful partnership and amicably agreed to go their separate ways. The player, with a brief down spell to endure, would go on to win more titles. Meanwhile the coach/mentor/manager enjoys a substantially raised profile, greater respect in the game and more commercial opportunities than ever. He considers whether he will coach again.

Many claim this to be the start of the era of the Super Coach and this would be true if we were looking at Andy Murray & coach Ivan Lendl between December 2011 and January 2014.

But the above is actually the tale of another player and the time period between 2010 and March 2013. Perhaps the true innovators of the Super Coach era are Adrian Lewis (2011 & ’12 World Darts Champion) and Keith Deller (1983 World Darts Champion) his Super Coach/Mentor?

adrian lewis Keith Deller 1990s