Data_Sheet_1_Evidence for Sequential Performance Effects in Professional Darts.docx

Objectives: The study of sequential effects in aiming tasks might shed light on the organization of repetitive motor performances over time. To date, investigations of such effects in sports have been limited and yielded mixed results. Given the relatively short time intervals between successive attempts, and the absence of defensive interventions, dart throwing provides a potentially fruitful testing ground for examining the presence of sequential performance effects in the motor domain.

Methods and Results: A total of 80 competitive darts matches of 10 of the world’s best players were scored from publicly available video footage in terms of sequences of hits and misses of triple 20. In darts, throws are organized in legs, i.e., a rapid succession of three throws by the same player, allowing us to investigate various transitions in performance (throw 1 → 2, 2 → 3, and 3 → 1). The resulting binary sequences were analyzed statistically in terms of independence and stationarity. Across players significant statistical evidence was found for sequential dependence from the first throw in a leg to the second throw, but not for the other transitions. As regards to stationarity, a significant decline in performance was observed in the course of the match.

Conclusions: In professional darts, evidence can be found for both sequential dependence as well as for non-stationarity, implying that performance does not, or at least not always, constitute a stationary random independent process. More research is needed on the motor control mechanisms underlying the observed carry-over effects within triplets as well as the possible causes of non-stationarity.