Darren Webster believes an improved practice regime and a new-found composure on the big stage has been the key to his recent success in televised competition as he looks to make further inroads in the World Championship.
The Norwich thrower has enjoyed a strong finish to the 2016 season – whitewashing Phil Taylor 5-0 at the Grand Slam of Darts before reaching the Semi-Finals of the Players Championship Finals in Minehead - where he led Michael van Gerwen 6-0 before eventually succumbing to the world number one 11-8.
And, having seen better results in practise, the world number 35 is confident that he can start competing with the top players on a more frequent basis once he can transfer that form onto the big stage.
“I’m practising five times better than what I’m playing out there, so I’ve just got to take it up onto the stage,” said Webster.
“I looked at the videos from the Grand Slam and Players Championship and noticed that I was rushing the last dart, so I’ve been practising for the last two weeks and working on composure.
“I’ve now got to start controlling myself and training myself to do what I do week in and out on the big stage.
“Once I learn how to do it properly, I’ll give the top players a run for their money.”
Webster continued his strong form with an impressive victory over 2014 Lakeside champion Stephen Bunting in the opening round of the World Championship at Alexandra Palace - hitting eight maximums and high checkouts of 140, 147 and 157 along the way.
Bunting squandered seven darts for the match against the 48-year-old, who was particularly pleased with the way he held himself together and made the most of his opponent’s missed opportunities.
“You have to punish people when they make mistakes,” he said. "I’ve had that done to me for years now and I’ve been trying to do that to other people.
“I’m practising heavily on my finishing and it’s paying off.”
'The Demolition Man', who reached the Last 16 a decade ago, will match that run if he can overcome world number 17 Simon Whitlock in the Second Round on Friday.
And, though Webster knows that the two-time world finalist poses another tough test, he is remaining purely focused on his own performance.
“You just never know on the night. I just have to prepare myself, get up there and play my darts,” he explained.
“Years ago, I used to look at people but I don’t anymore. You have to put everything into one game.
“I’ve had a great end to the year and I’m still going, so you never know.”