Watching professional darts players is great fun, not only are there huge, excitable crowds in the venue, but the players are also highly skilled and competing for big prizes. Overall, it's a game that combines concentration, skill in hand-eye coordination, and even strategy for a very enjoyable time. Why remain just a mere spectator, though? Everyone must start somewhere, and you could find that playing darts is rewarding, fun, and might even bring you some brand-new friends.
When you're a total beginner, though, figuring out how to get your darts all the way to the board at all is a challenge in its own right. Don't be discouraged, though: throwing a dart can be tricky, and getting it to land in the right spot that you want is even trickier. All it takes is time, practice, and an understanding of the right way to do things.
There's no substitute for standing around with the darts in your hand, but it can help to familiarise yourself with the technique and the action of throwing before you start paying for practice rounds. Below, we'll break down everything you need to know to start from square one and work your way up towards being an accurate darts player.
Developing the right type of grip for darts
There's more than one element to throwing darts, and releasing one in flight towards a dart board isn't the right place to start. In fact, the first thing you should practice, especially as a rank amateur, is the way you hold the dart in your hand. Grip is everything, and without a good hold on the dart, you'll never be able to throw it straight and true.
So, what is the right way to hold one of them?First, find your dart's centre of gravity. Balance it on finger to find the point where it stays level. The centre of gravity is the point at which you should grip the dart; over time and with practice, you'll learn to mix this up with some variety. Now hold the dart almost as if you were holding a pen for writing. This grip is the default grip used by many players.
Variations will also come with time, but this lets you get an initial feel for the dart. Three fingers are enough to hold the dart, but four is okay too, however, as you add more to your grip, your release will be harder. Fewer fingers means letting go of the dart is easier and faster. Practice your grip until holding darts feels comfortable.
Stance is important: how to align your body
Just as much as holding the dart correctly can impact your throw, so too can the way you align your body. Stance is important in many sports and games, such as golf. There, your stance determines the power and angle of your swing. In darts, your stance influences how straight your throws are and how well you can place your shots on the board. The right stance for a darts player isn't very intuitive, but once you develop a feel for it, it's easy to replicate.
For a quick glimpse at what you'll need to do, watch any pro darts player, they all adopt much the same stance. If you throw with your right hand, you should put your right foot forward. Your entire body should be able to create an unbroken line between your eye, your hand, and your target on the dartboard. Angling your body this way reduces the chance of moving your arm from side to side during the throw.
Put your weight on this dominant foot while keeping your back foot as a support. Do not lean too far forward, though it may seem to make your throw easier; it's also a recipe for back strain! Square up to the line a few times until you feel like you're in a good position. During the throw, your torso should never rotate.
The basics behind a dart's throwing motion
With your grip and stance down, it's time to move on to how to properly throw the dart. In part, this is a function of your stance, too ? your entire body plays some part in the throw. Many beginners think they just need to throw the dart straight and in the general direction of the bullseye to score. However, throwing and aiming are two parts of the same package, and there's much more skill to it than meets the eye.
Let's break down the right way to throw. Keep the point of the dart straight and on your aiming point at all times. If you allow the dart to wobble up or down, your aim will be far off from the mark. Keeping your body in one line towards the target, pull your arm back towards your ear then throw forward with as straight a motion as possible. Your release point should be near the throwing line and in agreement with your aiming point. Release by letting go with your fingers simultaneously and follow through all the way.
If you just stop your arm as you throw, your dart will fall too fast and land lower than you aimed. Though getting your throws to be true takes practice, the proper form can get you there faster.
Do's and don'ts: common mistakes you must avoid
If your first few throws go wide of the mark or miss the board entirely, don't worry, that's not an uncommon occurrence! In fact, you can expect plenty of growing pains as you first get started. However, practice makes perfect ? but you'll also need to be sure you're eliminating common errors from your game. If you aren't careful, bad form can become a bad habit which drags down your game. Here are a few of the most common mistakes you'll want to avoid:
- Do not make a fist when gripping the dart. Keep your non-gripping fingers relaxed and spread apart. If you choke up on the dart or hold it too tightly, you can strain your hand and struggle to find the right release point.
- Do not lift your back foot off the ground as you throw. Many novice players feel it is natural to lift the leg during the follow-through. However, this actually reduces the power in your throw and makes you less accurate. Keep your foot anchored throughout the motion.
- Do not move your eye off your spot on the dartboard. If you don't maintain eye contact with where you want the dart to go, you'll never develop the coordination necessary for landing your throws every time. Watch where you want the dart to go carefully!
Putting it all together: planning your game
Now it's time to start thinking about putting all this together. Knowing how to throw a dart doesn't always translate into knowing how to win. While getting your checkouts down and learning when and how to go for the bullseye will take time, you can always develop practice games to play with yourself for improving your throw.
When you're just starting out, it can be helpful to focus on one or two elements at a time as you practice. What's the best way to develop your skills? Try focusing on a particular part of the board for a session, or give yourself a time limit to see how many times you can reach a given score or hit an area before time expires.
Practice doubles in particular, as they are vital to winning games. If you're struggling to be accurate at all, zero in on just the bullseye for a while ? the larger space and central location makes it an ideal spot to aim.
Grab a board or head down to the pub for a practice round
While holding darts for the first time can feel awkward, and your first few throws might go wildly off the mark, over time you will be able to see yourself improving. Grab a friend or a family member and ask them to help you practice ? even better if they're already a darts player.
There's no substitute for the trained eye of a more experienced player, as they can help point out issues in your form or provide pointers on better throwing techniques. Don't forget that the darts you use can influence your throw, too. Do your homework, put in the practice, and above all else?have fun in the process!
This article was written for Sports Fitness, a great online store where you can shop for darts accessories including a brand new dart set, flights and a practice board for your home or office.