Never judge a book by its cover…an expression seldom used when actually referring to reading material. However, David Kirby’s new book with its less than eye-catching artwork of a rickety footbridge meandering off over the dunes and into the distance, with no hint of its tungsten treasure inside, allows me to use the idiom literally.

Buy The Definitive Darts Coaching Manual from the DartsMad online darts shop.

Fortunately, on closer inspection the clue is in the name ‘The Definitive Darts Coaching Manual, Your Pathway to Success’. A bold statement, yet with little in the way of competition out there the author is entitled to stake his claim. The manual is primarily aimed at those who want to take their game to a high level, but does offer something for players of all abilities.

Bereft of diagrams and photographs, but brimming with nuggets of information for the aspiring dartist to digest, learn and practise. The manual can be used in conjunction with a coach or by individuals, and offers wide margins and blank pages for users to make their own notes. With an rrp of just £5.00 it offers great value for money, after all a Lady Godiva doesn’t even cover a couple of pints these days.

The section on finishing is worth the price of entry alone, we are all familiar with the outshot posters/cards that are bundled with various pieces of darts kit. These are fine and a decent reference, but David’s guide delves much deeper explaining the percentage shots, helping you to develop your ‘darts maths brain’ to give you the right shot selection at the right time. Even if you don’t agree with all the suggested routes, most players will still take a lot away from this section.

Darts players like to tinker with their kit, just take a look at Raymond van Barneveld’s recent antics, however unless it is done in a controlled and measured way, how can players assess the benefits of any change to their setup? Well, the manual also covers this and has suggestions on the necessary steps to get the best out of any changes, whether it be barrels, flights, clothing etc.

A lot of thought has gone into the development of this darts reference material, which incorporates many aspects of the game even extending to lifestyle choices, such as tips on managing budgets, fitness, match stamina and tobacco/alcohol intake! There is even guidance on every player’s worst nightmare….chalking, which when learned and performed in the methodical way shown, is not the daunting task it is assumed to be.

With three distinct practice routines, dependent on ability, and warm up advice/tournament preparation, goal setting and more, there is a lot crammed into the book’s 70 pages. As advised by the author it is probably best tackled by reading through once, and then referring back to specific sections you have identified as key to your own progression. Be aware that the practice routines are tough, and will require dedication to complete. However, based on David’s analysis the potential improvements that this could bring to your game are more than worth the effort.

Without revealing too much of the actual content, I would like to pick up on an interesting section of the book which discusses that 9000 hours of meaningful, planned and measured practice, will in most cases result in a highly skilled player and is a figure consistent with many other sports. For the impatient darter, that’s just about achievable if you played 24 hours a day for a year! But seriously the key word is ‘meaningful’, 9000 hours or not I think most of us could improve our practice regime, and the book is designed to help us.

Practice, technique and preparation are all subjective, and there will be those who agree with David’s ideas and of course those who don’t. I would have expected to see more drills on trebles; however you could argue that they are encompassed by the other routines. As a minimum the book will provoke thought, but as far as this reviewer is concerned it is an excellent publication, and should offer plenty for dart players of any ability to get their teeth into.

What about the author? Well coming from an athletics and martial arts background David has also coached and played for a successful county Super League team, and is well qualified to speak about the physiological aspects of, and psychology involved in sport. David’s manual is largely well written, although I could be a pedant about a couple of inconsistencies within its pages, they are not of any significance to warrant negativity. I got a lot out of reading The Definitive Darts Coaching Manual, although it won’t stop there, as I will no doubt be referring to this reference material for some time.

The book is available to purchase direct from our online shop here.

Or you can win a copy with DartsMad.com by simply emailing the answer to the following question:

What is the highest possible checkout in a game of darts?

Competition now closed. Winner – Gary Devlin

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