Chris White - 4 Time US National Champion

Nickname: Great White Shark
Born: November 28, 1971, Bowmanville, Ontario Canada
Resides: Castro Valley, California
Years Playing Darts: 30
Darts: Chris White Signature Dart 20g
Favorite Tournament: Las Vegas Open
Sponsors: Puma Darts, Fit Flight and Shade Clothing Co.
Interests: Fishing, my family

Excerpts from 'DARTS Beginning to End' by George Silberzahn
“I grew up in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. I have always considered southern Ontario to have the strongest contingent of players in North America.

I got started in darts with my family; definitely, my grandfather was a really good player and played until he was in his middle sixties.  Everyone from my mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles all played darts. When I was about six years old, my family would have a little in-house league where they would meet with their friends once a week to play. I found myself always watching. By the time I was eight years old I was playing quite a bit, and started playing in the youth dart league in my area when I was probably about 10 years old. They have a really good youth dart organization in Ontario.
I believe dart players are made, not born. I believe you have a little bit of natural talent but after that it's just hard work. When I was 14, 15, 16, I remember playing four hours a day. I came home for lunch, practiced for almost an hour and then back to school.  After school I would be back on the practice board again as it was just what I wanted to do. You really have to have the dedication to practice. Practice until your arm falls off, practically. You see some people who are great out of the gate, like Eric Bristow, who was really good early in his career. For me, not to say that I was a poor player early in my career, but I think that once I hit around 30 I became the player that I am now. I think I play better today than  ever.  I have more experience. I learned how to play under pressure better. As I got older, things that used to bother me when I was in my 20s don't bother me now".

The Move to California

In the summer of 1998 when I was 26, my wife Kelly and I moved to Foster City, California. We were going to come down here for five years or so and then move back to Toronto but we had the twins, fell in love with the Bay Area. So, we've been here for 11 years now.
Then I went back to work remodeling homes. So, for the most part, I'm a dad.
My other real passion is fishing. I own a bass boat and I do a lot of bass fishing. When I'm not playing darts I try to get out at least once a week, on weekends.
I love the competition. Like everyone, I love the winning feeling. Winning titles is the main thing. Certainly the money is getting bigger, but I never played for the money. There certainly wasn’t enough for me to make a living at it unless you are one of the top Dart players in the world and can do the circuit in England.
I started playing soft tip down here, probably four years ago now. I don't play any steel tip leagues right now. I play once a week now, the Medalist soft tip league, which is a doubles league. I have to play in this league, as you need so many games played in league to qualify into the Medalist World Championship.

My Nickname

My nickname is” Great White Shark” but I didn't really get it until I got to California. Maybe it is because of the ocean or just because my last name is White. When I first moved here everybody was impressed with my game and they started to say “Have you seen this Chris White guy? He is great.”  Then, people started to call me the Great White which became the Great White Shark and the nickname stuck. When I first moved here, I was so head and shoulders above everybody locally. However, the players have vastly improved since then. There are plenty of great players in Northern California too, but I am talking about my local league especially, coming from Ontario, where players were so strong and down here, it was so weak.

Family

The hardest thing is traveling and leaving my family. When I was over in England for two weeks it was tough to be gone for so long and then all the other weekends back and forth, especially living on the West Coast. Since most of our bigger tournaments are on the east coast or in England. It seems every flight is six hours minimum.
Kelly, my wife, is a big supporter of my darts and a fan of the sport. We been together since I was 19 years old. Since I began playing darts competitively Kelly has supported me and if not for her I wouldn't be doing as well as I am. Kelly is not a dart player but she used to come with me to a lot of tournaments and watch.
I sacrifice time with my family to play darts and I guess that would be the biggest sacrifice of my dart career. There is definitely a lot of hours on the board out in the garage, practicing for the big tournaments. You are giving up a lot of your family time.

My Darts

I have my own signature dart. I have been using the same dart for probably 10 years, which Puma started manufacturing for me. As far as a dart goes, it’s whatever works best for you. I've been using this style dart for 20 plus  years. I designed this dart and had Jeff Pickup make it for me. He is a custom tungsten dart maker from Canada. I gave the design to Puma and they made it for me. Puma has done a great job. It is definitely a high quality dart. It is 90% tungsten and it works for me.

Sponsors

I am sponsored by Puma darts and Fit Flight. I have been with Puma for a little over two years now and they supply and sell my darts. In August 2010 I joined the Fit Flight team as a sponsor player promoting the best and most innovative flight and shaft system on the market today. I would not consider myself a full-time pro at darts. I would definitely consider myself a semi pro. In my opinion, a full-time pro is somebody that makes their whole living at darts.
My sponsors have been a huge help with the costs of playing darts.
Puma darts and Fit Flight are really big over in Asia. Now that I am with them I will be doing more over there.

My other sponsor I am very happy to be affiliated with is SHADE Clothing. SHADE makes high end dart shirts that are very comfortable and look great.

My Philosophy

I’ve had younger people asked me this question loads of times, what makes you better than other players?  They say they play other guys and they play really well but when they come up against top players, they don't play as well. Or they play great at home but don't play well at tournaments. I tell them they have to realize how many quarter finals and finals that I have been in before I really started to feel comfortable being there. Like before my younger days when I would get to quarterfinals I would be nervous and I would be pacing, but now I've just been in so many I know how to handle it. Chalk it up to experience I guess. I mean all the guys, Gary Mawson, Darin Young, Johnny Kuczynski, Larry Butler or Ray Carver; we've all been playing 20 plus years now.
I am a kind of a rhythm player. So when I'm playing against someone who is the same kind of player that I am, I can get into sort of a rhythm, which seems to produce better matches than where one player is really slow and the other is more of a rhythm player.

Practicing

Staying focused is what I find most difficult about practice. You are practicing on your own.  I try to practice at least an hour or two a day. And then for the bigger tournaments coming up you have to force yourself to be on the board for three to five hours a day.
My practice before used to be just banging the 20s and then I would work on the Bulls for a little bit. And then I would play some 501 games in my head. Now I try to work more on my finishing. I start at 121, and I have nine darts to do it, if I hit it I move up one and if I miss it I move down one.  I do this all the way up to 170.   Right now, I'm really working on my finishing from 61 to 100. I'll throw Bulls for a good half an hour to 45 minutes and I usually just warm up on the 20s. I have a Dart Master III, and I'll play that on a level II.  Another game I play in my head is where I have to do a game in 18 darts or less, and if I did it, I'd win that game. If I went over 18 darts, I would lose that game. I would do best of 11, but I have changed the game to do this in 15 darts or less because the standard is so high.

Tournaments, Traveling and League Play

I definitely prefer the PDC type events, or the North American Championships, where you can focus on the one event and a longer format, I go to some of these tournaments where they have like 13 events. I understand why they do it, but it's really hard to keep focused all day long; especially with a quick format where anybody can beat anybody in the best 2 of 3.
I never seem to notice the effect from travel on the first day. On the second day or Sunday I never seem to play as well. I consider myself more of an evening/afternoon player. 
If I'm behind the draw I stay on the board and practice and if I feel like I'm ahead of the draw I'll sit down for 15 minutes or so then throw for five or 10 minutes.
The type of tournament a veteran player would prefer would depend a lot on whether or not they are a seed. If you are seeded you would want the bracket, if not, then the draw type of thing. It really doesn't matter to me, I know what I'm getting into when I go to the tournament, whatever the rules are.
I wish there was something I could do in short format tournaments to help with coming out of the chute firing full blast. You tell yourself  the same things  the rest of the players are telling themselves. 
Winning the bull is big, but that's no secret. As everyone knows, the bull is crucial in our format. Win the bull then you start with a 15 dart game and the other guy’s got to do a 12 dart leg, which is not happening every other game. Definitely the bull is your first concern. You win the bull and after that you really concentrate on winning the games in which you have the start. In the longer formats, obviously you're trying to win every game, don't get me wrong, but you really are trying to hold your darts. Sort of like a service break in tennis. So if you lose your bull and you lose your darts once then you have to break the guy twice, which makes it really difficult. Right now it's the best of 11 legs. You bull on the very first leg and that player has to start every other game after that.
The feeling that I'm playing” hot” comes and goes. I mean, that happens on the practice board as well and it happens weekly, daily sometimes. For me a tournament is kind of like three stages. I have to get through those early rounds, a couple of middle ones and then the tournament really starts for me. Up around the quarterfinals when you get close to the finish line is where it really starts. All the top players say if you going to get beat, the early rounds are definitely the time that it happens. Obviously then, once you get to the quarters it's not going to be an easy draw. You are going to be playing tougher competition in the third step of the process as well.
When I won the second of my three national titles in the States, stands out as a great accomplishment. I had won the Canadian Youth National title before I moved down here. People were thinking I was lucky to win my first National Title. But I would say the second national title, probably meant the most to me just for myself on a personal level and proved them wrong. I said to myself, okay, now I've done it twice. That meant something to me. 
I played steel tip when I first moved down here, and there are still steel tip leagues, however, I just stopped playing in that last year. In the last three years I've been the highest rated player in the Medalist league. The league will have it capped at 21 or 22, and I am rated at 17 so I have to play with a four or five rated player. I have been rated number one in the world in the Medalist leagues, which is mostly on the West Coast of America, and Asia or wherever there are Medalist leagues.

Click here to see my Tournament Accomplishments