9th September 2017.All one need do to know that the popularity of darts is on a meteoric rise is to spend a few moments watching a professional match take place on TV. The huge crowds that fall silent during a critical throw but roar to life when someone nails a 180, the increasing pots of prize money, and the free-flowing sponsorships ? they're all a sign that darts is on the rise. You may also notice that many competitors are men. While there is a women's side to the World Darts Championship, it continues to draw smaller numbers. While men dominate the sport, that doesn't mean the ladies are entirely left out; in fact, there are plenty of pro women making a splash on the darts circuit. It's not just for the pros, though: just like an average man can pick up a game and start refining his aim, so can you. Why, though? Besides the fact that it is a fun sport, there are plenty of other reasons, too. From social benefits to keeping your mind sharp, sending a steel-tipped dart sailing towards the bullseye could be just what you need. Consider everything you need to know about women's darts and think about where you should shake the rust off your throwing arm.

Why should women play darts in the first place?

It's a reasonable question to ask; there are tonnes of other activities and sports out there, so why choose darts as the one you'll pursue with a passion? The benefits break down into a couple of different categories. First, we have some of the benefits to your physical wellness. No, darts won't turn you into a champion sprinter or give you unparalleled cardiovascular endurance. It will help sharpen your hand-eye coordination, though, and it can help keep your mind fresh. Darts requires more concentration than many amateurs expect, and it's a game that demands a body working in sync with itself. It's an excellent activity to stay sharp and engaged. The improvement in your ability to concentrate will translate to other areas of your life as well. There are also benefits for your mental health as well. Darts is naturally a very social game, and we are social creatures; playing in a pub or a local league is not just an excellent way to meet new people, but also a way to stay engaged with your community. There's a healthy aspect of teamwork to darts, too, if you choose to play in matches with a partner. Altogether, it's a fun way to feel better about yourself, make new friends, and improve your mind.

The big-name pros you should know

If you're going to immerse yourself in the world of darts and learn how to play, it makes sense to have some role models to look up to first. Football fans have favourite players ? why shouldn't you? There are plenty of headlining men, too, but we can focus on some of the bigger names regarding women who participate in the sport. Not only does their success show that women can compete together with men, but it should also show you that there's a chance you could do it, too. Trina Gulliver, nicknamed "The Golden Girl," is certainly a success story to emulate. With a whopping tenWomen's World Professional Darts championship titles under her belt, she is the most successful woman in the sport. With a truly massive number of tournament wins, it's not hard to see that she's at the top of the game. You don't need to be a veteran to be a top winner, though, and Anastasia Dobromyslova proves that. With three championships, Dobromyslova has also competed in more heavily male-dominated tournaments as well, holding her own there. It can be done! Another big name: Francis Hoenselaar, who consistently trailed behind Gulliver before finally triumphing in 2009. Unfortunately, she has since retired from the game due to injuries. You can still check out YouTube for highlights and old matches for inspiration!

How to get started when you want to play darts

Okay ? so obviously, there's a good place for women in this game. Maybe you're interested now, or perhaps your interest was already piqued, but how do you begin once you decide you want to play? It all depends on the level of experience you have right now. If you're a complete beginner, spend some time familiarising yourself with the rules, such as how scoring works, how you win games, and some scoring strategy. Understanding the fundamentals before you ever pick up a dart will allow you to begin practising with an idea of how it works. YouTube and other video sites have a vast amount of content that can help you learn. Practice at home, or find a local darts game that's amenable to beginners. Then grab yourself a set of darts, step up to the line, and throw! The only way you'll ever improve is by playing many games. Ask your competitors for tips and tricks, or speak to a more experienced player and ask for some guidance. A friendly smile and the offer a game is often all you need to strike up a darts friendship.

Going deeper: getting more involved with darts

With a mastery of the basics and an understanding of how to tackle the game, it's time for the hard work of practice. It will take you hundreds or even thousands of throws to develop the muscle memory and feel necessary for true precision, but you can still have tons of fun along the way ? and you can invite your friends to join in the fun as well. Why not ask other women in your social group if they'd like to play? You could even organise your own team for a friendly competition at a local pub. Home games can be great fun as well, offering a chance to gather and socialise in a safe and comfortable environment. Try following the major competitions, learning the names of the major players, and maybe even attend some matches. You'll have a chance to watch the masters at work while also meeting other enthusiasts. Who knows? You might find a partner for your next game at one of these events. Either way, it's the best way for women to immerse themselves in the game further.

Keep finding ways to compete and grow as a player

Darts is an easy game to learn, there's no denying that, but mastery is elusive for many. Whether you want to play more seriously or you just enjoy the casual fun, there are always options out there for improving your game. When you feel like you're gaining confidence in your skills, step outside your comfort zone and consider entering a more serious competition. Not only will you get to experience the thrill of a higher tier of competition, but you could win a little cash in the process. That's not bad for something many women pick up as a hobby. What if you don't want to go down that road? That's okay ? many women find that they're happy to continue playing in smaller games or those with people they know. Darts is a social game, after all, so why not spend the time with people you enjoy? Ultimately, if you enjoy yourself, you can approach the game in any way you want. The addition of diversity to the game is not only beneficial to players; it's important for the long-term health of the sport.

You can strive for 180s too

While there's no doubt that darts is a man's world, why should it stay that way? The more women who take an interest in the sport, the more it will grow ? and the bigger the prize pools for women's tournaments, too. Of course, you don't have to angle to turn pro and compete on the biggest stages to have fun. Participating in local competitions, making friends, and developing friendly rivalries at the line will be just as rewarding an experience. Before long, you might even realise that you want to purchase a dart board to hang up for practice in your spare time. Remember: don't give up! Darts can be challenging as a beginner and even an intermediate player. Be sure to ask your fellow players for tips and tricks; you'll find your fellow competitors can be very helpful.