Improve Darts Accuracy with Better Dart Throwing, Aiming Techniques
Darts is a great game, but if you want to play it better with greater consistency you need to improve your accuracy and aim.
Having a solid and consistent technique is more important in darts than any other sport with the possible exception of golf.
The mental demands of higher level competition and increased expectations, puts you under increased mental pressure and an inferior technique will drag you down and make things worse.
This article provides reminders about the aspects of your technique you should review and work on.
It also identifies what you should practice to improve your accuracy and develop more consistent aiming and dart throwing techniques.
How to Step Up and Throw Darts at the Next Level
The key aspects of your throwing action to focus on are:
- body stability at set up
- stability of the upper body and shoulder
- being comfortable, focused but relaxed
There are many different styles and actions that have been successful. You only have to look at the differences is styles of the current champions to see the variety. But it is important to have a comfortable and consistent throwing motion, and to have a stable lower body as the foundation.
Putting in golf is probably the closest to dart throwing in terms of the needs for a consistent set up, action and technique. Golf coaches emphasize the need to get into a stable body position and to only move your arms in a pendulum motion to ensure a consistent stroke. The controversy about the long putters and 'belly' putters is all about players trying to find ways to cement the pendulum action and to take as much variability out of the swing as possible.
Locking the top end of the putter in the belly, or with hands held against the cheek secures the top end of the pendulum providing stability.
The yips in golf is very similar to what many dart players experience when they try to step up to higher grades and become more accurate.
Developing a better technique is the key - As shown in the image above, the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints are the key parts of your technique and action where inconsistency can occur.
As in golf, you need to develop a pendulum style action which reduces lateral, side-ways variations in movement when throwing darts.
This can be achieved by using better technique and focused practice.
Advanced Throwing Techniques and Tips
Minimize Body Movement at the Dart Line - Only Move Your Shooting Arm
Your entire body and your shoulder should be completely still when you throw your darts. The set up position should be comfortable and stable. It you overstretch forward and get wobbly your aim will be ruined. A steady and controlled steady backswing provides better accuracy for most people, but if you have a faster motion, stick with it but work on consistency. Similarly an uncomplicated single, fluid and smooth motion works better than a jerky complicated action. Work on trying to minimize any side-to-side motion of the body and the throwing arm.
Develop a Consistent Release of the Dart
The dart travels in an arc, and so developing a reliable, consistent and repeatable release point is critical for consistency. There is a lot of variability on when the dart is released from early to late in the throw action. Develop a comfortable grip and release technique and practice it so that you don't have to think about it. In the pressure of a game, as the tension builds you may tend to tighten your grip slightly and release the dart later in the swing with disastrous consequences.
Snapping the Wrist When Throwing a Dart - Yes or No?
Some players snap their wrist just before releasing the dart. This adds complexity and becomes one more thing that can go wrong, particularly as you tire or come under pressure. If you do it, then you need to ensure you remain relaxed and develop a consistent action. It may be worth trying a slower, more controlled throw without much wrist action to improve accuracy and consistency.
Developing a Consistent Follow through for your Throwing Action
A good follow-through is critical, even if you release the dart early in your action. This completes the full cycle of movement and helps the action to be smooth and consistent. At the completion of your throw the fingers need to be pointing at the board or down towards the floor. If your arm is not partially or fully extended, or your fingers end up pointing upwards then you are probably not following through properly. If you feel unbalanced or unsteady on your feet at the end of the throw it may be time to change your body position. Trying to aim at the target while you are trying to avoid falling over is not a good idea. You need a stable stance right through the throw including the follow through.
Consider Changing or Refining Your Grip
There are many grips and the one you use is an individual choice. However, some grips are better for consistency and repeatability than others. If you are having problems with aiming it may be worth modifying your grip for greater stability and more consistent releases.
Refining the Way You Aim your Darts
Most people aim naturally, unconsciously and don’t really think about it. This is fine. Except when you come under pressure and start thinking about it you can become confused because you don't really have a technique to check on. The following aiming methods and suggestions may help to improve your aim:
- Use a consistent sight to line up your darts - Many people use a sight line based on something on their throwing hand to help them take aim. For example, some people use first or second knuckle on the thumb, others use the tip of the dart, or the small finger of the throwing hand. It partially depends on the grip you use. Having an aiming strategy is probably better than having none, as it builds and extra step into your technique and gives something to check if your start throwing off line. It may be better to change the aim slightly to correct a consistent misdirection during a game, rather than trying to work out why it is happening.
- Use Your Elbow to Lead your Throw - Start by being conscious of where your elbow is pointing. This is a good check to ensure you are aiming correctly, because your elbow leads the way in the throwing action.
- Don't Try to Make Corrections to our Aim - Always aim directly at your target. Some dart players try to shift their aim left or right of the original target with their second and third target if the first one misses. This can lead to technical problems mental confusion during a game. How do you know where you are up to? It is better to aim for the same spot and assume that some tiny error in you technique caused you to miss. If you aim at triple 20 and you miss to the left, then aim directly at the middle of the triple 20 area fro the second and third dart. Allow your subconscious to make the correction. If it happens again, redo your setup.
- Know Which Eye is the Dominant One - Every player has one eye that is more dominate for aiming. It is important that you are aware of this and always lead your aim with that eye.
Practice Tips to Improve Aim and Consistency
Take your practice sessions seriously and don't be too casual - You should prepare your practicing session to simulate a match. Have a plan for what you want to work on and stay focused for each session. The quality of the practice is more important that they time spent throwing darts.
Simulate the Condition of a High-pressure Game - Try to find a practice partner who is better than you and be serious about the session. Try to have a joint common objective and strategy for the practice. If practicing by yourself you can simulate by using a timer. For example, set yourself a task of shooting a certain number of as many double 20's in 5 minutes. As the time passes you will be under more pressure to meet your goal. You can also replay previous stages of old matches and try to get a better outcome.
Don't focus on your strengths but your weaknesses - Keep track of your weaknesses and failings and use them as a list of things to practice to improve your game.
Introduce variety and new challenges into your practice sessions and keep track of your progress.
Some Practice Games to Try:
The aim is to see how often you can score 80 points with three darts in 10 rounds? There are many different ways to get score of 80.
Start by trying to get darts in the single area of each black number, round the board. A hit earns one point, a miss earns minus one point. Set you aim at accumulating a score of 10 points. Then do the game again with the doubles and triples.
Based on numbers 15 to 20 and the bulls-eye. You will need to get three hits in number to own it and start scoring for each subsequent hit for than number. The game ends when all the 5 numbers and the bull have been assigned to player. The player with the highest score wins.
Similar to standard Cricket. Each player tries to close the numbers15-20. A hit by an opponent in one number you have closed the points are assigned to your opponent. The player with the lowest score after all number has been closes wins.
Super Cricket (Cricket with the doubles and triples counting separately)#
Similar to standard Cricket, using the numbers 20 to15 and the bull's-eye. However, in this case you have to close triples, doubles separately. Another variation is that the closes have to occur with three consecutive darts in a round.
Around the Clock#
Play starts on number 1, when successful moves on to 2, etcetera. The winner is the player that completes every number on the board in order, first. You can make it harder by focusing on the doubles and triples
There are 9 innings. Each player tries to get as many 1's as possible. The one with the highest score wins the innings. Players then move to the next number, say 2, for the next innings. The player who wins the most innings wins the game. You can change with numbers on the board to use for the 9 innings
Two players are assigned the role of "the stopper" and "the scorer". The stopper shoots first. His aim is to hit numbers on the board. Once hit the numbers are blocked to scoring by his opponent 'the scorer'. The other player can only score on the numbers that have not been blocked. Points are added up and the two players change roles and see who has the highest score.
© 2013 Dr. John Anderson
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