We take you back to the late 70's for coaching advice from Welsh legend Leighton Rees.
We have recently stepped back in time to produce a dart whose shape has been around for decades. Our Classic dart uses the still popular bomber shape barrel with our more up to date micro-grip. This trip "Back To The Future" reminded me of a book I acquired recently - Leighton Rees on Darts.
Now for our younger readers first of all let's let them know who he is Leighton Rees, an imposing Welshman who became the world's first professional dart-throwing champion in 1978 and who died in 2003. He was a legend- a Welsh legend and was at his peak back in the day with Bristow, Lowe, Jocky Wilson et al.
Winmau still make Leightons Darts
(click here to find out more about them) which says a lot about the heights he reached! Winmau also let us use the photo of Leighton so thanks to them for that too.
I found a book online he had written in 1979, a darts coaching book effectively. I was intrigued as the main reason we started the Darts Performance Centre was to bring coaching and analysis into the darting mainstream. So bearing in mind we are borrowing darts designs from the 70's then why not a bit of coaching advice from then too? Here is a glimpse of the advice dispensed by Leighton:
"Don't get superstitious about clothing-I always wore a green cardigan but realised what a fool I was always wearing it for luck as I got sweltering hot in it playing In Bristol and then even hotter in the USA -The cardigan was put away for good then."
OK, a bit of a humorous one there. What about this then:
1. Practice should lead to consistency
2. Consistency engenders confidence
3. Total confidence ensures ultimate performance
Leighton then discusses the need to have your mental state perfect, getting the timing right for eating and that all your kit is prepared hours before you play. All great advice!
Leighton's breakdown of the darts throw is excellent too.
He tells us that there are 206 bones in every dart player and that each one plays its part in the darts throw. This is his breakdown of a throw:
1. Visual detection of the target
2. Mentally working out angles and distance (hand eye co-ordination)
3. Stabilisation of the body on the oche
4. Move slowly into your launch mechanism
5. Launching the dart
6. Working out the next shot without interrupting your rhythm
He emphasises the importance of stability on the oche and having both feet anchored to the ground-advice I agree with 100 percent.
Leighton admitted in the book that he may well have benefitted from shedding a few stone and does discuss the "exercise" he did get; he worked out that throwing 330 times and retrieving your darts was equivalent to walking a mile. He goes on, "I play 30 matches of 1001 on a night- 27-30 darts so I walk a mile a night just getting my darts! That's not all though-he also pointed out that he did some sprinting too - dashing to the loo between games at an exhibition!
Last of all, practice- Give this Leighton special a bash -6 dart 301 using just 2 numbers -D19 - T-19- T19- T19- T18- D19 (no wonder he was World Champ).
Around the board in doubles - 3 darts max at each so if you don't get it in 3 move on. 40 doubles with 60 darts was Rees' target.
It's a brilliant book, Leighton Rees' skill and sense of humour shine out of the book and if you want some advice from back in the day that is still relevant now, this is a classic!
Leighton Rees on Darts - Edited by Dave Lanning Cassell Ltd, Printed in 1979