It’s the first night of the World Matchplay, at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. Mark Dudbridge is 9-7 up, against Wayne Mardle. And, he has five chances at a double, to take the match.
Unfortunately for Dudbridge, he misses them all. Mardle, then proceeds to come back from the brink of defeat, to snatch an unlikely 11-9 win.
It’s a match that Dudbridge should have secured. Even at 9-8, he is still in the game. But those crucial, match-point misses, play on his mind. His game goes to pieces, as he can’t seem to get those missed doubles out of his head. He knew he should have won the match. He still could. But mentally, he can’t. He is no longer in the present.
When a player misses a crucial double, its imperative that they have a five second rule. That is, five seconds to inwardly curse, get the frustration out of the system. Then move on. Dwelling on the mistake, for any longer than five seconds, can allow the negativity to impact on the next set of darts. Then, quickly, a cycle of doubt can become established.
The five second rule is a discipline. It prevents the player from the luxury of wallowing in self-pity. It means that they remain positive and fully committed to their darts. So that when the next double opportunity presents itself, they attack the board, with conviction and confidence.
Once self-doubt takes hold, then players go for doubles, more in hope than conviction. And as Mark Dudbridge discovered, on a painful Sunday night in Blackpool, that is no way to see out a tight match.