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It’s a question even the best of players want to know the answer too. Whether your average is 40, or 100, it’s in our nature to strive for constant improvement.
Many people underestimate the level of commitment, patience and practice it requires to be an accomplished darts player. If you’ve ever thrown at a dart board, you know it is frustratingly hard to get the dart where you want it to go.
Because of this, we’ve put together our top 9 tips on how to get better at darts. It’s pretty comprehensive, so strap yourself in and start hitting doubles every time.
Don’t have time to read the full post, here’s an overview of what you need to do.
- Make sure your dart board is the correct height, and you’re throwing from the correct distance.
- Experiment with different dart setups until you find the right one.
- Find a comfortable stance.
- Hold your dart correctly.
- Work on your technique.
- Play as much as you can.
- Defeat your toughest opponent, the mind.
- Practice, practice, practice, and more practice.
- Have fun and celebrate the progress you make.
Excited to delve into each of these steps? Fantastic, let’s go!
Dart board height & distance
The first step does not include throwing darts at all! In fact, it encourages you to dust off the toolbox and get the tape measure out.
You’ve been putting in hours upon hours of practice at home, only to step up at your local club and realise your board at home is a couple of inches too high, and you’ve been throwing from too far away.
Everything you have worked on is redundant. By the time you readjust and start throwing decent darts, your opponent has wiped the floor with you.
I encourage everyone right now to grab their tape measure, head to their board and double check the following measurements.
- The bullseye is 1.73 metres / 5′ 8″ from the floor
- Your throw line is 2.73 metres / 7′ 9 ¼ “ away
The below image illustrates the correct setup, plus you can checkout our dart board regulations page to learn more.
It seems so simple doesn’t it, but you’d be surprised just how important this is. Now we’ve got the right setup, it’s time to get throwing.
Find the dart setup that works for you
There is no magic setup that we can give you that is going to make you a PDC superstar. However, you have a number of different options you can trial, and get comfortable with. It’s amazing how much a quality setup can improve your game.
So when we say “dart setup”, what are we talking about?
Parts of a dart
A modern dart, is made up of a number of distinct sections. Starting from the front end of the dart, these are the point, the barrel, the shaft and the flight.
The point comes in two forms, either a steel tip or a soft tip. Steel tips are the most commonly used, especially for the big television tournaments in the PDC and BDO. They are also the most commonly used by amateurs, in the pubs and clubs around the United Kingdom. The points need to be sharpened regularly, using a stone, so they do not drop out of the board.
The barrel of the dart is made from either tungsten, brass or nickel alloy. The most common in the modern game is tungsten and these are the most expensive to purchase. Tungsten darts come in all shapes and sizes and the barrel can be much narrower than that of brass and nickel, which is better when trying to squeeze three darts into the treble bed.
Barrels also come with different types of groves on them, which can aid the grip on the dart and make for more accurate throwing.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the barrel, is the weight. There are numerous weights to choose from, for each style of barrel and it’s worth practicing with a few different weights, before deciding which to buy.
Shafts can be made from plastic nylon or aluminium. There is no real advantage to using either, so it’s more of personal preference than anything else. Shafts come in different widths, lengths and shapes.
Flights are another section of the dart which come in all shapes and sizes. Not only that, but they come in different patterns and colours and can even be personalised.
The choice of which flight to use is very important, as it will affect the way a dart moves through the air and ultimately where it will land in the board.
Thankfully, they are cheap, so it’s possible to try different styles and see which one’s suit best.
Be patient as it will take some time to find the combo that you are 100% comfortable with. Once you find what you like, stick with it. Practice and play with this setup.
Find a comfortable stance
Just like your darts setup, your stance is also unique to you, and very important.
Comfort and balance is the key here. You don’t want to put your body under unneccassey duress during your throw.
We have to remember the target we are aiming at is extremely precise. Being balanced will enhance any technique, and help you line up your target. There are 3 common stances that are widely known. These are not set in stone, so again, do what’s comfortable for you.
This is the recommended stance for beginners and the most common you will see amongst players. You place your front foot at around a 45 degree angle at the throw line, and use your back foot to sustain your weight.
Side On Stance
This stance is also fairly common and used by a number of players. You place your front foot side on the the throw line, with your back foot again supporting you. Some players feel this technique gives them the ability to push their weight forward, and get closer to the board (providing there is a raised throw line).
Front On Stance
This one is self explanatory. You stand front on to the board, with both feet facing forwards at the throw line. This is an uncommon stance and there hasn’t been many who have perfected it over the years.
Still, it’s worth trying. It may just work for you.
Don’t forget, these are just the common stances seen over time, place your feet in any way shape or form. Stand on one leg if that’s what makes you feel comfortable. The key point is to make sure you are balanced when you throw.
We have to shout out Darts Live for the pictures. They have some great content, we would recommend checking them out.
Great, our stance is done, let’s work on holding our dart.
How to hold your dart
Okay, you guessed it, we don’t have the magic formula on the correct way to hold a dart. However, we can provide you with some useful tips.
In some cases, it’s as simple as picking the dart up and seeing which way automatically feels the most comfortable. If you watch a tournament on the television or a match in a local club, it’s highly unlikely you will be able to spot two players using exactly the same grip.
If this doesn’t feel right, here’s some steps to help you get the perfect grip on your dart.
- Let the dart rest in the palm of the hand and find the centre of gravity for the dart.
- Using the thumb, roll the dart towards the fingertips and positions the thumb slightly behind the centre of gravity.
- Place as many fingers onto the barrel of the dart as feels comfortable and move the hand into the aiming position, ready to throw.
Some further tips to help you.
- By achieving this grip, it’s possible to adapt it and the change position and number of fingers on the barrel, to what feels comfortable and works best.
- No fingers should be griping the shaft of the dart or the flight, as this will certainly lead to inaccurate throwing.
- The dart should always be facing up, towards the dartboard and the grip should not be too fierce, in a way which is straining the fingers.
- If there are any fingers left, which are not on the barrel, these can be spread away or left in the same position as the others but not in contact with the barrel.
A number of professional players have interesting grips, which could be used during experimentation. These players include Phil Taylor, Eric Bristow, Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis, Dennis Priestley, John Part, John Lowe and Bob Anderson.
Check them out and see which works best for you. Again once you have settled on this, try and keep it consistent and practice as much as you can.
Improve your technique
Many players search for the answer to this question, but we think the question needs to be changed slightly. You will have gathered from our other tips, your throw is highly personalised, and requires you to experiment as much as possible until you feel comfortable.
Imagine a poor technique in cricket. You may have a great eye, but the flaws in your technique will be figured out and you will not be succesful.
Now, imagine a poor technique in darts. Hey, you might look silly, but if you’re hitting high scores, and winning games, does it matter? No.
Why do we say this? We don’t want people to get caught up on their technique.
Accuracy of your throw is the most important thing. Don’t go watching videos of MVG or Phil Taylor and try to emulate their technique. It works for them, but it might not work for you.
Do what’s comfortable for you, and as long as your darts are not hitting the board sideways, persistent practice is what will improve your technique. Now in saying all of this, if you are an absolute beginner, or are just looking for a few extra tips to improve your accuracy when throwing, keep the following in mind.
How do we improve our accuracy/technique?
- Follow through – This is by far the most important part of your throw. Make sure you extend your arm out, directly towards your target. Making a conscious effort to do this will help you throw straighter.
- Focus on your target – If you’re aiming for the T20, don’t look at the entire bed, focus in on tiny hole in that bed that you can focus in on. By focussing on a smaller point, you have less room for error.
- Balance – we’ve mentioned this before, make sure you are balanced. With such little margins for error, you need to make sure you do not lose balance at all throughout your throw. This will make you more accurate.
While basic tips, they can make the world of difference to your accuracy/technique.
This is deceivingly harder than you would imagine. Unless you are in the top 1% of darts players where it is your occupation, we all have to make time to step up and throw some darts. This becomes increasingly tough when we throw in work, partners, kids, your social life, etc.
If you’ve read this far, we are going to assume you are serious about improving your darts game. The fact is to improve we need to play. We need to make it fit in with our life.
The only thing we know about your schedule is that it is busy, so all we will say is fit in as much practice/gameplay as possible. The more you do, the quicker you will see improvement.
Here’s some tips to fit it into your schedule.
- Join your local darts club who would play 1-2 times a week. It forces you to lock it in your schedule, plus, you will get invaluable experience playing real games against others. You’ll also learn from your teammates who may have more experience than you.
- Setup a darts night with a mate every week. It’s a great excuse to catch up, and both improve your game at the same time. Even a cheeky beer afterwards to celebrate the game.
- Download a darts scoring app and play against a bot. This can be great if you have no one who is willing to play with you, and are not ready to join a club. Several apps have different levels of difficulty so you can push yourself (and win some). Check out our resource of best darts scoring apps.
Some additional food for thought. It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. If you dedicated 3 hours a day to playing darts, you would be considered an expert in just over 9 years.
Better get started, that’s a lot of dart throwing.
Overcome your mind
The toughest, most fierce competitor you’ll come up against isn’t the person next to you, it’s the thing between your ears. The psychology of darts is one of the most fascinating of all sports.
You have two major factors at play when it comes to your mindset. Your own performance, and the performance of your competitor. The tips below are more focussed to gameplay scenarios, and will help you outperform your competitor in the mental game.
One thing that you have to remember. Playing in a local league, or against your mate, skill levels will be similar, and it’s your mindset that will make all the difference.
Control the tempo of the game
You need to play the game on your terms, and at your speed. Do not be rushed or pressured by your opponent. These are clear tactics from your opponent designed to disrupt your rhythm. Take all the time you need when throwing.
If you’re unsure of what scores you need, don’t be afraid to take the time to work it out. The last thing you want is to bust, or leave yourself with a terrible peg.
While this sounds easy, in the pressure of gameplay, it can be difficult. Be mindful of this every time you play a match, and make sure you are running things on your terms. Be prepared to stand your ground if challenged on this.
In the contrary, if you find your opponent taking control of the tempo, acknowledge it, don’t let it fluster you, and do your best to bring it back to your terms.
Managing frustration and anger
Unfortuantely with darts, there’s no one to blame but yourself. This can get the blood boiling and frustration levels can (and more than likely will) go through the roof. The biggest lesson you can learn is to get this under control.
This is very hard to master. Let’s look at an example of how it can impact a player, and help your competitor.
A peg is missed, resulting in a bust, the player loses it and throws their last dart/s at the board in anger. As an opponent looking at that, you are filled with confidence. Control was lost and you’re on top. As the player, you’ve lost concentration and control, and are unlikely to compose yourself if/when you step up next.
Letting your frustration consume you is a one way street to a poor darts performance, and can even make yourself look silly in the process.
It may sound cliche, but in moments of frustration, bring your focus back to your breathing. Steady yourself and remain in control. You will be amazed how just 2-3 deep breaths can make all the difference.
It’s all about confidence, babbyyy
Yep who would have thought that an Ocean Alley song can help you improve your game.
This is important for both gameplay and practice. It’s something that is easy to say, but is very hard to implement.
It all comes back to what we’ve talked about previously. Being comfortable with your setup, your technique and your stance. You know you have hit D16 time and time again in practice. That self confidence is crucial.
- Acknowledge you are not going to throw perfect darts 100% of the time
- Know you will emerge from any poor games you may have thrown
- It takes just 1 good dart to get your rolling again
- Don’t switch your style up mid game, this is a recipe for defeat
Like the NBA team Philadelphia 76ers catch cry, “Trust The Process”.
If you look at the top players in any sport, the thing that sets them apart from the rest, is their mindset. While we all can’t have the mind of Michael Jordan, we can understand that we are our own biggest obstacle, and if we overcome this, we will win more games of darts than we lose.
Practice, practice, practice and practice
We have left this towards the end as this is a no brainer. If you want to improve in anything in life, you need to practice. 99% of us are not naturally gifted enough to step up and hit 180 after 180, so practicing our game is crucial.
BUT, the most important part of all is this.
Don’t just go and throw darts at the board without a purpose. Stepping up and aiming for T20 for 6 hours a day might make you great at hitting T20, but it will not make you a better player.
PRACTICE DARTS WITH A PURPOSE
It’s as simple as that. Make sure you are testing yourself with all different types of scenarios, different peg outs, even different games. Don’t limit yourself to 501, play some cricket, or any other dart board game.
We love this video below featuring Bob Anderson, who gives some great tips on how to run a meaningful practice session.
This video from England Darts Review Youtube channel also gives a few great darts practice games to play.
Make sure to switch things up and keep it interesting. Practicing encompasses all the points we have raised above. Everything you do in the game of darts will improve with consistent practice.
Have fun playing darts
At the end of the day, everyone from a PDC champion, to old Barry down the pub, plays the game simply because they love it.
Without getting too deep with you, a game of darts is the perfect time to forget the troubles of life, socialise with your mates, and have a beer. There’s no doubt we all want to be better at the game, but you have to enjoy it, otherwise there is no point.
We strongly encourage you to join your local darts league, even if it is just a local pub competition. The people you meet and the friends you make exceed the sport itself. People from all walks of life and skill lever are involved and it really is just a great community.
Meet some new people, have a laugh and have fun. That’s the true recipe to improving your game.
BONUS – Get a scoring/average tracking app
Just one last quick point. You’ve got all the tools to getting better at darts, but how are you actually going to track your progress?
There’s many darts scoring apps which track your average over time, giving you the hard data that you are actually improving.
We’ve done a resource on best darts scoring apps which you can checkout, otherwise a quick Google search for one of these apps will give you several options.
Let’s wrap this up
If you’ve made it this far, well done. You must be serious about improving your game. We hope we’ve given you some useful tips that you can takeaway. Remember to practice as much as you can, and to have fun in the process.
Let us know if you have any tips of your own.
Good luck and happy darting!
Getting Better at Darts FAQs
There’s some standard questions everyone has when trying to improve their game, we hope we can answer some of them here.
How do I improve at darts?
The million dollar question, luckily you’re in the right place! Step 1 – read Your Darts full post on the steps you should take to improve your game, then it’s all about practice, practice, and more practice.
How do you aim a dart correctly?
Darts is a unique sport where everyone has different techniques, and there’s no rulebook on how to throw properly. With that said, make sure your line of sight is clear, you aim directly at the target, your elbow is at a 90 degree angle, and you are focussed in on a very small point. From there, it takes practice and trial and error with your technique.
How long does it take to get good at darts?
Like anything in life, if you put the work in, you will see the results. Darts is no exception to this, and the reality is, to be a great player, you need to practice… a lot. Your darts destiny is in your hands – if you put in 10 hours of practice a week, you’ll get better at darts quicker than if you’re putting in 5 hours. Time to get to work!
How many hours a day should I practice darts?
There’s no limit on time you can practice. Professionals mix up their training with fitness and mental health improvements to get the edge on their competitors. For us average Joes, if you’re taking darts seriously, fitting in 2 hours a day will see you improve quickly.
How hard should I throw my darts?
This is completely up to you, and what works with your technique. If you’re finding your throwing the darts so hard, you can’t get them out of the board, then maybe some adjustments need to be made.