As the World Series of Darts hit fever pitch in Australia this month, with the 2019 Darts Masters double header in Brisbane and Melbourne, we chat to one of the country’s top players KYLE “THE ORIGINAL” ANDERSON to find out what it takes to ace his sport and how to throw the perfect dart…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Kyle.
I was born and bred in the Perth region, grew up in an Aboriginal family which was very close-knit and family orientated. I broke through in darts around 2013, got a PDC Tour Card in 2014 and have been based in the UK since then to play in the pro circuit.
What made you get into darts?
Mum and Dad played in the house and family would come around and have a game on weekends – it became an all night thing. I was playing from about nine or 10 years old and I loved the family involvement. Some families play board games – in my family everyone played darts.
When did you realise you were bloody good at it?
I was horrible at first! I knew I could play but I didn’t take to it straight away – I loved playing footy – but at around 13 I made my second year of the Western Australia junior rep team. My brother, Beau, was playing too and we won the Doubles. The following day I played him in the Singles. To do that I knew I must have something, and three years later I made the Australian junior team, went to France and won the World Youth Cup.
You’ve been competing around the world on the professional circuit since 2014 — what’s been the most challenging thing?
The fact I’m away from home and my family. When I’m playing darts I’m focused on the job at hand and doing my best in that competition, but it’s when you’re in a hotel room you’re thinking about your family back in Australia and that’s hard. It might be four months or so, at a time without seeing them. I usually take a break in May to go home for my son’s birthday, and get a break in January.
What’s an aspect of your job that most people would be surprised to know about?
You can occupy yourself 24/7 with practice and training. In my case, there’s no boss looking over my shoulder giving me more work to do or a coach telling me to do specific practice – you have to get the balance right yourself. It’s a very individual sport, all players are different in how they approach matches and prepare – some will do eight hours a day and I might only do a couple, but that works best for me.
Is there any specific training you do in your profession?
Usually I will arrive at a venue around three hours before I play to practice and warm up – some players do more than this, but it works for me. Away from events, I’ll do a few hours every day, sometimes working on my finishing and doubles but mainly on my scoring and treble 20s because that’s such a huge part of the game.
Describe the mental strength needed to do what you do?
The most mental strength I have is being away from the family and not the game itself. Family is a big motivation for me and in an advert break during a match if I’m losing and I go backstage I’ll look at my phone and look at pictures of my family and it will spur me on.
When I’m in the moment of the match, I don’t really think about the previous legs that have gone – I would congratulate my opponent for a big finish or a good shot but not everyone’s like that. We’re all fighting for the same thing and you have to be mentally strong.
How did it feel to win the 2017 Auckland Darts Masters and become the champion?
It was surreal at the time. I was playing well but didn’t think I was going to win when I went there. I knew what I could do but hadn’t produced the big averages in TV games up to that point. When I beat Gary Anderson in Auckland, that was a turning point to show that I could do it and I got a lot of belief from that, and went on to win. That’s the best win of my career so far.
You’ve also landed two TV nine-darters and won two PDC titles.
Yeah, it’s a fickle sport. Some days you’re brilliant and some days you’re terrible, but with so many events to compete in you always have another chance pretty soon after. It’s a game of millimetres and when things are going your way then it comes easily and you can days where you hit a nine-darter or win a title. To have hit a nine-darter in the World Championship, which only nine players have done, is incredible. My brother Beau was in the crowd too and you see me point to him as I celebrated it.
How do you prepare for a big competition?
On a match day, I’d usually head back to my hotel room after breakfast, listen to some rap music and chill out, maybe speak to the family back home. Then about four hours before I play I’ll get ready and head across to the venue and have about three hours practice before I go on. You’re not necessarily permanently on the dartboard, you might do 20 minutes and then have a break for a short while.
Do you have any superstitions?
When it’s time to go onstage, the only thing I do which is a regular thing, like a superstition, is that I wipe my feet when I get to the top of the steps to the stage.
What goes through your mind before hitting the stage to compete?
I’m pretty relaxed – a lot more than other people. I might do a social media pic to say, “It’s GO TIME!” just before I go on, and it can take my mind off what I’m about to do. The most nerve-wracking part of the whole game is the walk-on for me – I can get pretty nervous – but once you’re being introduced by the MC, there’s no turning back!
How important is diet to your sport or do people think you guys just drink a lot of beer because it’s darts?
I’m diabetic so I have to watch what I eat and drink, and I might be drinking water with a bit of apple juice before I play, but nothing more than that really. The old image of darts has really changed in recent years and there’s young kids coming through who didn’t begin playing the sport in pubs like in the old days.
Most darts players have a nickname. Yours is “The Original” – how did it come about?
It comes from being an Aboriginal player. I didn’t want a cheesy nickname, I wanted a nickname which meant something to me. I’m really proud of my heritage and being the first Aboriginal professional.
What’s the worst injury you’ve had in this sport?
I haven’t had a darts-related injury – yet! But I have struggled at times with my eyes, where I get “spots” in my vision which is related to my diabetes. That can affect how I see things and I might not be able to see where the darts are landing in the board properly.
How different is it competing in front of a home crowd to overseas fans?
There’s a bit more expectation when I’m back in Australia because you’re the home player and everyone wants you to do well. In England or Germany, sometimes you’re not really the favourite so it’s a different pressure, but I love playing back in Australia and relish every chance I get.
Many darts fans dress up in some crazy outfits – what’s the weirdest or best you’ve seen?
The outfits are brilliant. I think there were a couple of blokes in Australia last year wearing Tom & Jerry outfits and some others dressed as Bananas In Pyjamas.
What will it take for the IOC to include Darts as an Olympic sport?
There’s lot of reasons but from our side of the game it’s not something we can focus on as players. Because I play in the PDC, which is more a promotional body, they’re not the governing body of the sport so the IOC doesn’t recognise the PDC under their rules, and from there we couldn’t be involved in the Olympics at present. I’ve loved representing Australia when I have the chance, and I’ve done that in a few World Cups in recent years.
So… what’s the secret or best method to throwing the perfect dart?
It’s all about however a person feels comfortable. Every player throws differently so it’s a very hard sport to coach, but you just have to find a way of standing, a way of holding the dart and throwing that suits you. The beauty of darts is that everyone is a different shape and size so it doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, male, female, tall or short – you can still throw.
Finally what advice can you give to anyone wanting to be a professional darts player?
Follow your dream. Be ready for what it throws at you because it’s fantastic and you can achieve so much, and the sport can take you to places you’ve never imagined going before. It’s tough to live on the other side of the world but I love doing what I do. ■
NAME: Kyle Anderson
BORN: Subiaco, Perth
LIVES: Chesterfield, UK
GO-TO DRINK: “Masters Choc Milk.”
BEST MEMORY: “Winning my Tour Card in 2014.”
WORST MEMORY: “Missing double five to win against Michael van Gerwen in the European Championship semi-finals.”
INSTAGRAM & TWITTER: @KyleDarts
UP NEXT: 2019 WORLD SERIES OF DARTS EVENTS
August 23-24: NZ Darts Masters, presented by Burger King & TAB at Claudelands Arena, Hamilton, NZ
November 1-3: World Series of Darts Finals at AFAS Live, Amsterdam
Ticket information for all events is available at www.pdc.tv/tickets
INTERVIEW BY SANTI PINTADO
For the full article grab the September 2019 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.