True experts and top dart players of the sport know that proper aiming technique is of the utmost importance for accuracy. A proper grip can be the difference between a good throw and a shameful one.
However, it is not a simple matter of knowing the “right” way and the “wrong” way to perform these mechanical skills. There are so many that, if followed consistently will significantly improve your accuracy and elevate your game. So how do you hold a dart?
There is no right or wrong way to hold a dart. Your dart grip has a significant effect on how your dart flies when thrown. When just getting started it is recommended to just pick up your dart and hold it however feels natural.
While this may feel natural, it may not be the best for your throw. As with all aspects of the game, the best way to find what works is to test. So let’s first go over the basics then look at some of the more common ways to hold a dart.
How Your Dart Grip Affects Your Throw
Do You Remember Your High School Physics?
Before we dive into the specifics of proper aim and more importantly the subject of how your dart should be held, let’s learn a little more about the physics behind this deceivingly simple sport.
When launching a dart, it follows a basic parabolic trajectory. A parabolic trajectory describes ballistic motion, which means that a dart travels along the same projectile trajectory that a stone follows when thrown or a bullet does when fired.
The curvature of the parabola will depend entirely on the initial impulse, and a properly launched dart will describe a textbook parabola trajectory. When your dart leaves your hand, it will immediately begin to accelerate and the kinetic energy acquired will ensure that it continues in a controlled path towards the target.
Mathematically, the equations that describe ballistic parabolas are quite complex and involve the consideration of acceleration, velocity, displacement, and even air resistance. To understand throwing more thoroughly, we will only worry about practical matters and leave mathematics for the classroom.
The mechanics leading up to the moment when the dart is launched is governed by a system of two rotating joints (the wrist and the elbow) and a fixed point (the shoulder). An articulated system such as this, where three degrees of freedom are defined along a plane, is what allows masters to control the flight path of the thrown dart accurately.
For an accurate throw, the dart is carried backward from the initial aiming position while keeping the shoulder and with it the whole body, in a fixed position.
A flick of the wrist at the last second will provide bonus acceleration which has the effect of producing more kinetic energy to ensure the dart follows its trajectory more accurately and in a more controlled manner.
Accurate Dart Aim And More Importantly Grip
From the basic physical mechanics of dart throwing, we can derive several important conclusions about proper aim. First, for the best possible aim, our eye, the dart, and the target must align. Likewise, it is necessary that the movement of our arm and hand remain within a fixed plane.
Some players will line two or three of their knuckles with the target; others use the tip of the dart. There is no set rule but choose a technique that works for you and use it consistently. This approach will help you have more accurate and consistent throws from one shot to the next.
The grip is one of those things that few people think about, but anyone who knows better will tell you that it is the single most important technique you can master to improve your throwing accuracy vastly.
The basic premise here is that by establishing a proper grip, you gain more control over the trajectory your dart will take to the target. The primary goal should be to keep the tip of the dart point up into the ballistic parabola.
A good dart-throwing grip is stable and firm, yet relaxed enough so as not to cause undue tension and strain on the muscles of your fingers and wrist. Muscle tension during the throw will cause the dart to be released too late into the parabola, and consequently, a loss of accuracy will occur.
The best dart throwers in the world understand that gripping darts is about technique and not strength. There are several methods that can be used, and each one has its defenders and detractors.
As a general rule though, the more fingers you use, the more control you will be able to exert on the trajectory. However, more points of contact mean the need for more coordination at the time of release, so a balance must be struck.
Furthermore, things like barrel length, weight, and knurls, and groove will all determine what is a functionally suitable method to use. Let’s take a quick refresher course on the anatomy of a dart
The Dart Is Divided Into Four Parts:
In order from the front to the back, we have the Tip, Barrel, Shaft or Stem, and the Flight.
Tip: The tip of a dart can be soft plastic or hard metal and have different lengths. The type of tip used is determined by the material the dartboard is constructed out of.
Barrel: The barrel is the “body” of the dart, which connects the tip to the shaft or stem. Barrels can be manufactured using a variety of materials, each providing benefits, and drawbacks. Barrels come in different weights and with various knurled or cut patterns. The barrel is the section of the dart that is held in your fingers, and so it is the single most crucial component when it comes to establishing a proper and functional grip. An important consideration when choosing which barrel type to use is the type of pattern cut into it. Whether the barrel of your dart is smooth, finely ridged, or has a very coarse knurl pattern, will significantly affect your technique.
Shaft: The shaft of a dart will affect the stability of the dart through the air and its ability to maintain a constant projectile parabola. There are a variety of options available that alter the many variables of dart throwing. Rotating shafts will eliminate darts bouncing off each other at the target site, and longer shafts reduce crowding.
Flight: As with all other components, there are types of flights that suit the different needs and preferences of each player. The purpose of the flight is to provide stability during your throw and minimize drag, so the dart maintains as much energy as possible during its path to the target.
Tips For Improving Your Dart Grip
Now that we have considered each of the variables of dart construction that might affect your grip and aim let’s go over some basic tips for finding a suitable for your style.
- It is critical to get a feel for your dart’s center of gravity. This factor should be the point of reference and focal point of your technique.
- Maintain a relaxed grip. Being too firm will cause unwanted tension during the throw and impact your accuracy.
- Any fingers not being actively used in your grip should be kept clear of the dart and relaxed at all times.
- At all times make sure your tip is held high. A downward pointed tip will subtract accuracy from your throw.
Although there are mechanical considerations to be made, the style you use is an entirely personal preference. Let’s take a look at some basic dart grips.
Four points of contact: This is one of the most basic and popular styles around. The four touchpoints afford the most control over initial acceleration and target placing.
It consists of supporting the dart with your thumb underneath and stabilizing it from the top with the ring middle and index finger. The pinky stays clear of the dart.
A five-point variation would include the pinky which for some can provide added stability; however, most of the time any gain is offset by the extra coordination needed.
Three points of contact: This is another highly popular method amongst the competition crowd. It is similar to how you hold a pen with the index and middle fingers lightly clasping from the top and the thumb pushing up from the bottom. You lose some control by exercising fewer points of contact, but you gain much kinetic potential by facilitating wrist action
There are indeed more unconventional techniques around. Some people prefer the two points for minimum contact, although I believe too much control is given up when used.
The single most crucial aspect to be considered when choosing a grip that works for you is your comfort level because there is no “right” or “wrong” way to hold a dart, and this was proven recently by Rob Cross when he won the Professional Darts Corporation World Championship in January this year. This man destroyed his competition and became world champion using one of the most unorthodox styles we have ever seen.