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54335.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:06 am Reply with quote

The Iran Darts Association is involved in research being carried out in Iranian universities into the benefit of darts “from the scientific and medical aspect,” focussing “on the effect of darts on a person's psyche and the oneness of the spirit.” The ultimate aim “is to equip the officers of managers with darts equipment to be utilised as a method of relieving stress.”

Source: Darts World, October 2005.

How about ...

Q: What’s the best way of achieving oneness of spirit?

54337.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:11 am Reply with quote

In 1908 a pub licensee, Mr Anakin, of Leeds was taken to court for allowing people to play darts in his pub. The law prohibited “games of chance” in public houses. Anakin insisted that darts was a game of skill, not a gambling game, and he offered to prove it there and then.

A dartboard was set up in court, and Anakin threw three darts into the 20. He challenged the magistrates to do likewise; when they couldn't, he was acquitted - and the law was subsequently changed.

Source: The Daily Telegraph A to Z of Sport by Trevor Montague (Little Brown, 2004).

54362.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:50 am Reply with quote

That's great. One likes to envisage him challenging the judge to a game.

54370.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:01 am Reply with quote

Middle for diddle, your worship?

Ah - what is this "diddle" of which the witness speaks, Usher?

54722.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:26 am Reply with quote

The Iranian facty is less daft than it might seem.

I commend to y'all the excellent and mystical classic "Zen In the Art of Archery" by Eugene Herrigel.

The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede.

The ability to play darts is unquestionably enhanced by being a bit pissed. This, in my opinion, is because the conscious 'trying' mind is to some extent stilled, allowing the dart to get on with its natural business of achieving unity with the treble 20.

54739.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:43 am Reply with quote

All true, Jumping. Years ago, when I was quite a serious dartist, a friend and I once seriously thought of writing a modest volume on “Zen and the Art of Arrers.” In those days, the sporting phrase “in the zone” was not known to us, but that’s what we were on about: it came down to the ability to release the dart without your mind actually being aware that you’d released it. Many dart players will agree that when you’re on the oche lining up each dart, you know before you left fly - or even before you start aiming - whether or not the dart will hit its target, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Champions, perhaps, are those who can do something about it.

The most relaxed I’ve ever been in my life has been at moments in tense darts matches when the arrow I was about to throw would either win or lose us a cup, and I was so involved in the moment that I didn’t know the rest of my life had ever happened: oneness of the spirit, indeed.

Clever chaps, these Iranians.

55017.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:36 pm Reply with quote

I'd buy that book Mat!

Mike Slee, one of the original team behind QI's "The Trivial Universe" and I discussed the idea of making a whole programme about 'The Zone'. It's a fascinating subject, combining, as it does, the absolutely basic and demotic experience of sport with the wilder strangenesses of metaphysics.

Now that there's three of us (at least) I think we should revive the idea. Mike is a fine director (he recently shot the fascinating Imax picture "Bugs") and the thought of doing a movie along the lines of What The Bleep!? is really exciting.

I've played very little golf ( and badly at that) but I've noticed that whenever I've hit a really good drive, I have always been "absent" at the precise moment when the club connected with the ball.

With real achievers, this can be much more extreme. Jim White, the sports correspondent (and QI Oxford member) told me that Seb Coe – in one of his most famous races (I forget which) – found himself sitting high up in the stands watching his own performance far below...

55067.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:09 am Reply with quote

I have a similar thing happen whenever I go Ten Pin Bowling, which I do about once every three years. I start off being pretty good, because I haven't a clue what I'm doing, then as the evening wears on, and I begin to work out 'how to do it' - mostly by watching others - I start to concentrate more and more, and gradually get worse and worse. By the end I'm more or less dropping the thing on my toes.

This has to be the mechanistic basis of 'beginner's luck', I think.

The newish book by Malcolm Gladwell (he of 'The Tipping Point') is called 'Blink', and is about making decisions without thinking too hard.

Frederick The Monk
55072.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:25 am Reply with quote

Reminds me of playing snooker with Gray (who is a bit handy). Initially I'm bad - frankly the table is far too large - but not disasterous. A couple of pints of heavy and Chris might suggest that perhaps I play more often that I claim. A couple more and it becomes evident that I don't.

I feel the basis behind this is that I start with the view that it's all rather fun and can't be as tricky as they say - so what have I got to lose? Next we hit the beer zone where the relaxing and confidence-inspiring effects of 'Old Bastard' kick in and briefly, ah so briefly, I look like I know what I'm doing, mainly because I'm not thinking about doing it. The third stage is then a terrible conjunction of too much beer and beginning to believe that I do know what I'm doing. The conscious brain attempts to kick in and take over, the beer fights it all the way, and the result is disaster.

55127.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:12 am Reply with quote

Jumping, that sounds fascinating; it‘s a subject which has long interested me, and one of almost limitless possibilities. Perhaps one narrative thrust of the film could be a hunt to find a better phrase than “The Zone,” which I always think is a bit irritating, a touch psycho-babbly, and containing a hint of the self-congratulatory.

It would be interesting to know if there are any sports in which the Zone is unknown. I imagine rugby players “zone” when they kick a conversion, but what about when they run for the try line?

An extreme example, possibly, of what happens when the Zone is lost is “dartitis” - an inability to let go of the arrow. Some of the best players ever have suffered from this puzzling and heartbreaking condition. Golfers get it, too I understand, calling it the yips, and so do bowlers in cricket. There was a televised cup final a couple of years ago, a one-day game, in which the first over went on for ever and ever as the bowler, suffering from the yips, kept bowling wides and no-balls. So the film might cover highs and lows: Eric Bristow, for instance, who went from unable to miss to, later in his career, unable to throw.

55129.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:15 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
making decisions without thinking too hard.

I used to try that with multiple choice exams at school. They called me “Mr Nought Per Cent,” but I think they said it with a high degree of pure respect and even a little healthy fear.

55132.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:20 am Reply with quote

Relating to all this, see also Doping post 54682

55134.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:26 am Reply with quote

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high-ee) is a leading psychologist in a similar field called "the flow".

[He] is chiefly renowned as the architect of the notion of flow in creativity; people enter a flow state when they are fully absorbed in activity during which they lose their sense of time and have feelings of great satisfaction. Mr. Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

Fascinating, but verging on the new-agey.

55138.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:32 am Reply with quote

The term "in the zone" seems to have been coined by Arthur Ashe in 1975, in an interview following his Wimbledon victory.

55142.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:45 am Reply with quote

For your info, here's a study on the evidence of "the zone" across different sports.


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