Learning to play darts can be both fun and frustrating. You feel like you are doing everything right but not seeing any improvements.
Every beginner to darts is looking for some tips to improve their accuracy & precision. Proper stance, grip, release and even the dart itself can all affect your game Here are 10 tips to help get you started on the path to better darts.
Buy A Set Of Practice Darts
If you are at all serious about becoming a better darts player, you will have to get yourself a good set of darts. Unless you do this early, you will be severely limiting yourself regarding where and how often you can practice; which in turn defines your progression as a player.
As a beginner, the last thing you want to do is limit your progression. This is true of any sport but especially so of darts, where consistency is of the utmost importance. The purchase of a good set of darts will allow you the freedom to practice often and dedicate the time and effort necessary to improve.
The key here is that the definition of “good” will vary from person to person. Hence, no set amount of money will guarantee you a better experience.
While, for the most part, spending more money will get you better quality equipment, it won’t automatically make you a better player. However, if you happen to opt for the cheapest set of plastic darts, you will likely suffer some consequences down the road.
There is a happy medium here, and the sooner you figure this part out the sooner you will be able to get down to the nitty-gritty. I recommend these Cuesoul Steel Tips for your first set of darts.
Learn The Rules
It might seem like an obvious tip, but it is important to mention nonetheless since many people have an erroneous or misguided impression of what the game of darts is all about.
From an outsider’s perspective, the game of darts can seem excessively simple. Some people see a target and players throwing little projectiles and nothing more.
In essence, these people would not be completely wrong, but they wouldn’t be right either. If you happen to be one of these people and proceed to play darts in this manner, you will not get far.
The game of darts is only simple on the surface. One of the best things you can do when starting is to learn the rules as soon as possible so that you can familiarize yourself with the ins and outs early on.
Remember that there are dozens of game variants, each with its own particular set of rules, so concentrate first on learning the rules of standard play.
Figure Out Your Grip Preference
One could write entire books dedicated to proper darts grip. In fact, plenty of books HAVE been written on the subject. The first time I saw professional dart players in action I was amazed at their effortless accuracy. I didn’t know it then, but much of what I perceived was due to their perfected grip.
Darts are small, simple things; however, there are countless ways to grip them. There are three-fingered grips, four-fingered grips, five-fingered grips; I’ve even seen some maniacs use a two-point grip.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to grip a dart. Each variation can offer certain advantages. It is your job to figure out which grip technique is right for you, and the earlier you do this, the earlier you will be jumping on the right track.
In my opinion, beginners should try out ALL grips. Next time you practice make it a point to vary the grip every few games until you find one that best meshes with your style.
Whatever configuration you settle for, make sure that your grip is not too loose or too tight, it should be firm enough to give control but not so much that your arms stiffen up.
If you need help on this, I have created a detailed guide on how to grip a dart and the different types of dart grips.
Figure Out Your Stance Preference
After your grip technique, it will be your stance that most influences your progression from newbie to veteran darts player.
Again, just like with grip, there are several stances from which to choose. However, unlike the various grip techniques, the way you plant your feet when you stand on the oche line can have a dramatic impact on your performance.
During the early days of the sport, it was common to see players stand with both feet facing forward towards the throwing line. This stance soon fell out of favor because it forces the body into a rigid position that does little to aid the natural motion of the arm during a throw.
Much more popular these days are the various side-stances. These angled stances provide the body with a much more natural and balanced posture. Feel free to experiment with various stances until you find the one that you feel the most comfortable in.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should strive to keep a straight line connecting your eyes to the tip of the dart and through to the dartboard itself.
Make sure that the majority of your body weight rests on your front foot as this will give the most stability. However, you should be mindful of leaning forward too much as this can become detrimental to your balance.
Practice Basic Arithmetic
If you have plans of taking darts seriously, you will need to freshen up on your math skills. Beginners often forget this aspect of the game exists at all.
Most game variants, including standard tournament rules, will require basic arithmetic knowledge for proper play.
Scoring a game of darts will require players to be able to quickly and effortlessly add, subtract, and multiply small numbers. Calculating doubles and triples requires mental math.
Some people are naturals when it comes to numbers while others have a tough time with math. For those who are lacking in this regard, the only available avenue is to practice as you did in school.
Math is such an integral part of the sport that it can even dictate strategy. For example, because of the way the board is set up, and the given probabilities of hitting each numbered section, beginners should aim for 19 instead 20 until their accuracy improves. Why? Because if you aim towards 19 and miss, you will still get a higher average score than if you aim for and hit only a fraction of your throws.
Learn The Terminology
The game of darts has a long and rich history, and because of this it also has a self-contained culture; this means that until you become fully immersed in it, you might be a complete loss as to what fellow players are talking about.
Aces, Century, Choke, Check-Out, Yips, Flight, Knurl, Robin Hood, Shanghai, Ton 80, Splashing, White Horse, and Rubber, are just a few of the hundreds of specialized terms that you will encounter throughout your darting career.
Do yourself a favor and learn as many as you possibly can early on. The good thing is that the more you play, the more you will learn, simply through osmosis.
Few things are more grinding than hearing a couple of veterans talk about darts and feeling like you don’t even speak the language. Keep your ears open, and your mind focused, and if you don’t know something, remember that the best way to learn is just to ask.
Wikipedia has a huge database of darts terms. No need to memorize them all. Most you will never hear used. But if you hear a term and want to know the meaning, it would be a good place to check.
Consistency Is King
Allow me to let you in on a little secret, becoming a good darts player is not at all about having the best accuracy, but instead, it is about being the most consistent.
Many beginners make the mistake of assuming that they must increase their throwing accuracy as fast as possible; and most of the time, they do so to their detriment.
Remember that many variables affect your performance when playing darts. From the way you plant your feet, and how many fingertips come into contact with the dart, to how you breathe and where you look when you throw. The critical aspect here is to remain consistent in all of these variables.
Make sure you approach the oche line the same way every time. If you change your approach in the slightest you will be actively undermining consistency; which will make improvements more difficult to come by.
Find a routine that works and stick to it; making sure to concentrate on repeating every motion mechanically.
For beginners, consistency will net higher average scores than accuracy every single time.
Learn Different Games
As we mentioned previously in this guide, there are dozens of game variants available for play. Some of which enjoy moderate amounts of popularity, and in some circles rival the standard modes of the game.
Learning to play some of these variants early in your darts playing career will give you a better chance of finding a like-minded group of individuals for better practice sessions and full-blown games.
The most popular game are, by far, the 301s and 501s. These are what most people recognize as tournament rules and should be your priority when starting. However, cricket and baseball are extremely popular as well.
You can learn to play baseball darts, a fantastic game for newcomers to the sport because it simplifies the rules dramatically. Your only concern is to hit numbers in sequential order. It is a simple, fun game that works as a fantastic little practice drill.
The killer is a great game to play in groups and consists of hitting doubles to “kill” and eliminate your opponents. If you learn to play Killer early in your career, you can gain a substantial advantage to your accuracy.
If you are looking for something new you can check out our list of dart games with full instructions on how to play.
Practicing alone is much more valuable than most people are willing to give it credit. Practicing with friends is excellent fun, but practicing by yourself is extremely important when you are starting out.
The reasons for this are not very evident, mainly because many players will perceive that they perform better when playing socially. This perception is, however, often mistaken.
Most players, with very few exceptions, play measurably worse when surrounded by friends. It’s hard to believe, but even professionals attest to this phenomenon. And this is not only true for darts; it is a valid observation that applies to various other sports.
To increase our competitive performance during matches and reach our highest levels of potential we must focus on the psychological aspects of the sport since these are often the factors that most affect performance.
By practicing alone and without social distractions you will be able to focus more exhaustively on the various techniques. In this manner, you can consistently improve your level of performance.
By yourself, you will be able to overcome your limitations as a player and exceed your previous achievements. No matter how good you are, you can always be better.
Competitive matches place too much pressure, and friendly games cause too many distractions to work as effective avenues for growth.
I am not advocating a life of solitude, but to put it bluntly: the only way to improve as a darts player is to dedicate considerable time to practicing alone.
Don’t Burn Out
If you are at all passionate about darts there will come a time when burning out becomes a real possibility. I’ve seen it happen multiple times; a friend will begin playing darts, become hooked, become obsessed with getting better, and burn out.
Burning out can place you under severe emotional, physical, and mental duress. Burnout leaves you feeling overwhelmed, and it will almost surely rob you of all interest and motivation to keep going.
It’s a huge shame to see an excited newbie gradually become cynical and lose all interest in the sport.
If you start feeling like nothing you do is enough, if you begin to harbor feelings of inadequacy, if you feel like your skills are stagnating, it is highly likely that you are headed towards a nasty burnout.
Learning to identify the signs of burnout accurately can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Don’t be THAT guy.
Don’t waste your potential and allow your passion for a great game fizzle out. Make sure to leave space in your life for other hobbies and for spending time with friends outside the game of darts.
If you are new to darts, don’t miss out buyer’s guide for steel tip darts. It includes all the gear you need to get started at home
What tips helped you when you first learned to play darts? We’d love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment below.
3 CommentsLeave a Reply
I have been playing, teaching and forming dart leagues for over 39 yrs. Your dart ‘tips for beginners’ article was spot on. Also your ‘unwritten etiquette rules I just used in my current to help 1st years. You need to do an article about chalking, with sections on movement, scoring or when to score…etc. excellent job on Dart Help.
Thank you for your insight.
Because chalking is different depending on the game, I have been including the chalking information directly on my games articles. Chalking as a broader subject will get its own article sometime later this year.
Another “tip” to add in is to make sure your setup is good. It should be properly measured out and be well illuminated. When practicing by yourself, try to remove distractions. Maybe put on some music you enjoy but beyond that, keeping your focus on your practice is important. What tips helped me as I was learning? Relax, focus, and have fun. Consistency is key so make sure your body is not rocking or moving during your throw. You really only want the movement to come from your arm.