A steady hand and a steady head needed after "dartitis"
DARTS, more than most sports, is a matter of mind over matter.
It's not about how fast, how strong or how physically brave you are.
The physical action of throwing a dart is simple; the challenge is mental to make it consistently land where you want.
The country's best junior darts players have been exerting their mental control at the Darts Australia Junior Championships at Riverview this week.
Among them is Ipswich's former world junior runner up Tiarna Smith.
Smith was part of the Queensland girls team that won the fours title, and reached the semi-finals of the girls doubles, but was knocked out of the girls singles by eventual winner Tori Kewish, from Victoria.
Smith was "devastated" to be eliminated at the quarter finals stage. But it was a big effort considering the ordeal she has been through since finishing second at the world junior girls title in Canada in 2013.
That success led to a decline that she is still trying to overcome.
"I haven't been playing much lately," Smith said.
"I had a bit of trouble throwing.
"I had dartitis. But I pushed through it this week."
Dartitis is the darts equivalent of the yips for golfers.
It is a mental affliction that makes it near impossible to perform under pressure.
Smith found the pressure ramped up after she returned from Canada with a silver medal as the expectations of her rocketed.
"Everyone was putting pressure on," Smith said. "I really felt it and started playing really bad.
"I dealt with it but was playing nowhere near as good."
Smith has had to find a way to release the pressure and credits boyfriend Matt Dorotich with finding a solution.
"He's told me to practice my routines and relax my arm when I throw," she said.
It is ironic then that she is placing pressure on herself to reach the world titles in Turkey this year to try and repeat her feats from Canada.
Points from today's World Darts Federation Youth Singles competition go towards world junior rankings.
"My goal is to make the Australian team and do well like in Canada," Smith said.
"It's a selection year and I want to get picked for the worlds in Turkey. So I've found a way to manage it. It's all in your head.
"I don't know what others think but I just think 'Do the best I can.'
"If not, it doesn't happen.
"If it does it's a bonus."
HARD TO BEAT
MISSING out on the national girls singles title was devastating, according to Tiarna Smith.
But there was some consolation going out at the quarter final stage to eventual winner Tori Kewish.
"It was alright because she's good and she won it," Smith said.
"And she played awesome.
"It's the first time she's beaten me and it's taken four years."