Are you brand new to the game of darts or perhaps a very novice player who is looking to improve his or her game? If so, you have come to the right place.
Darts is a game enjoyed the world over, on both sides of the ocean. Dartboards can be found in homes, bars, pubs, lounges, rec rooms and game rooms, and can be played by people of all ages.
One of the most attractive aspects of darts is that the game can be played either alone, with a partner, or against many other competitors, testing your skill with every throw. However, for those of you who are new to the game, darts can also be very frustrating to say the least.
Perhaps you are struggling to find the right grip or stance, or having problems trying to understand which darts are best for given situations. Maybe you are just flat exasperated at your inability to hit what you are aiming for.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, fret not. These are all common problems with the novice player, and they can all be fixed with some patience and a lot of practice.
To illustrate this, below we have provided several great tips on how to get better at darts, starting with understanding the darts themselves and the dartboard. We will go on to talk about the right stance and grip to take and speak about how to aim and ultimately throw the darts at the board.
Choosing the Right Set of Darts
Darts come in a variety of types, are made using a variety of materials and are made for different types of dartboards. Generally speaking, there are two types of darts: steel-tip darts and soft-tip darts.
Steel tip darts are used when playing with a standardized cork dartboard. These darts are very popular with home players and in pubs that feature cork dartboards on the wall—rather than the electrical dartboards—especially in the pubs of England, Ireland and across Western and Northern Europe.
In the United States, most bars and pubs now have electronic dartboards that are designed with tiny holes throughout and electronically keep track of the score. For these types of dartboards you will need to use soft-tip darts.
Both steel tip darts and soft tip darts can be made using a variety of materials. The cheaper and less hearty darts are usually made from plastic.
Plastic darts tend to be very light and must be thrown fairly exactly in order to hit one’s mark. One of the advantages of plastic darts is that they are fairly durable and break-free, although they do tend to get bent after heavy use.
Plastic darts usually are equipped with screw-in soft-tips, which are also made of tough plastic. Other materials used to make darts include aluminum and of course steel.
Aluminum is very lightweight, but the darts can be weighted if one wishes to offer a better throw. These darts can be either soft-tipped or steel-tipped.
The ideal weight for a dart is between 20-24 grams, although some professional players prefer all-steel darts that can weigh up to 50 grams. Plastic, soft-tipped darts usually weigh just 16 grams or less, making it more difficult to reach the dartboard in certain cases.
If you plan to be playing on a cork dartboard, we recommend you select an aluminum shaft dart with steel tips. Some steel tip darts are fixed, meaning the tip cannot be removed, while with others the steel tip can be replaced and another screwed into its place.
As a novice, you may want to consider this latter type of dart, seeing that many of your darts may miss their mark initially and the tips can get chipped or bent.
If you will primarily be playing on an electric dartboard at home, we recommend you purchase a set of soft-tipped darts that have either plastic or aluminum shafts. Plastic darts will last longer and can help get you through some of the rough patches in your game.
Also, be sure to purchase a lot of extra tips. These tips are very affordable and will come in handy when your tips begin to break or bend.
On the dartboard, whether it be a bristle dartboard like the pros use, cork, electronic or magnetic dartboard setup, you will find spots numbered 1-20 placed in random order around a symmetrical circle. Hitting a dart in the “single area” of those respective numbers will be worth face value in most dart games.
There are essentially three main target areas on the dartboard, not counting the bullseye area.
On the far outside of the board is the “double ring.” Darts that land in this area are worth double the face value (hitting a double 6 will net you double that amount, or 12 points).
Moving inward about one-third you will find the inner or “triple ring.” Being smaller than the double ring, darts that land in the triple ring are worth three times the face value (hitting a triple 20 will net you a whopping 60 points).
All other areas of the board, save for the bullseye, are known as single areas, in which a dart is worth just 1x the face value.
The bullseye in darts is located directly in the center of the circle. On all regulation dartboards there are two rings in the bullseye area.
The outer or green circle of the bullseye is worth 25 points or 1x the face value; while the smaller red circle—which is directly in the center of the dartboard, is worth 2 times the face value, or in this case 50 points.
The Perfect Stance
Although we have entitled this section ‘the perfect stance,” in all honesty there is really no such thing.
In fact, the perfect stance is really however you feel most comfortable, provided you follow these simple rules:
- Put your best foot forward. You will always align yourself in darts with your dominant foot slightly ahead of your non-dominant foot. If you are a right-handed player, this means you will stand with your right foot slightly ahead of your left foot, and vice versa.
- Side stance vs. Front stance. There are basically two types of stances. You can stand with your body facing the dartboard—known as the front stance—or you can stand slightly turned with your dominant hip facing the dartboard—also known as the side stance. Many professionals use the side stance as they say it lends itself to a more natural posture, but for those just starting out, we recommend you master the front stance first before moving on to the latter.
- Be relaxed. Do not stand straight up and tensed when shooting darts. Instead, bend your knees slightly until you feel comfortable, and lean your torso slightly forward. This will decrease the actual distance you will need to throw the dart, and your relaxed posture will prevent your hands and knees from shaking or shifting.
- Stand behind the line. In the game of darts, a line is drawn or placed on the ground about 8 feet away from the dartboard. The official dartboard throwing distance is 7ft 9 1/4 inches. To make sure you are not bending the rules, always keep both feet behind the line until the dart is released from your hand.
Gripping the Darts
Finding the proper grip on the dart is a lot like finding the perfect stance. It may take some trial and error, but ultimately it will depend on what is most comfortable to you.
There are many different grips used by professionals, and all of these pros probably went through several others before they found what worked best for them. Here are just a couple tips you need to follow.
- Finger placement. When holding the dart in your dominant hand, you can either hold the dart with two fingers (thumb and forefinger) or three fingers (adding in the middle finger). This is a matter of comfort and preference, so we recommend you try both placements. With the remaining three (or two) fingers, remember to NEVER curl them up into your palm. Instead hold them out loosely to prevent over-gripping the darts.
- Place your fingers on the barrel. Darts essentially come in four segments: the flight, at the far back end of the dart; the shaft, a longer piece that connects the flight and barrel; the barrel, into which the tip is inserted; and the dart tip. For the best grip, your fingers should always be placed on the barrel of the dart—and only on the barrel of the dart. Gripping the shaft can cause errant shots.
Aiming and Throwing the Darts
Last but certainly not least we get to the section on aiming and throwing the dart. First, let it be said that properly aiming and throwing the dart is predicated on doing all of the other steps we just talked about correctly.
You will definitely need the right kind of darts, you will need to know about the dartboard, and you will need a stance and grip that are both comfortable and technically appropriate.
When aiming and throwing at the dartboard you will need to do a few things to make sure your aim and throw are true. The first of these is to lead with your elbow.
Always use your elbow as a guide when selecting your target, and before you shoot, make sure the elbow on your dominant hand is slightly forward of the hand. This will help ensure you are shooting at the proper level and prevent you from missing high or low.
The next thing you will need to do is sight up your target. With your elbow forward, look directly down the shaft of the dart you are going to throw and align that shaft with the target number or area.
This will give you the best opportunity to hit your mark.
After you have completed these two steps, you are going to essentially push the dart toward the target rather than throwing hit. Resist the temptation to rapidly pull your hand back and bring it forward as you would on a throw.
This will totally mess up your aim. Instead, keep your posture and push the dart toward the target using the fingers you have on the barrel.
Following all of these tips, and practicing them as much as you can, will rapidly turn you into the darts marksman you desire to be.