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Setting Out to Get Good at Darts
So, you are new to darts, love the social aspect and camaraderie and the challenge of the game and have maybe caught the darts bug?
If you are like myself you might have also taken on the challenge of trying to improve your skills and to get better at the game.
So then how should this be accomplished? The first and perhaps most important answer is to simply keep enjoying darts and to play against good players who also enjoy the game.
The other aspect, and one that will, working in conjunction with playing often is to practice. As the old adage goes ‘practice makes perfect’ and this is perhaps more true of darts than other things.
Great! Let’s throw darts at the triple twenty for fifteen hours! Surely after the eleventh hour you’ll be shooting noting but 180s, right?
Pounding away at the triple twenties is indeed a useful thing to be doing, but you do not want to make that the only thing you are doing. It will limit your skills to one specific task, and because of both mental and physical fatigue you might not get the results you were looking for in the first place anyway.
So what then? How does one go about practicing darts?
The Mental Aspect of Darts Practice
Before anything else what needs to be addressed is your relationship with and expectations of your practice sessions. The last thing you want to do is to set unfair or unrealistic expectations on yourself as this will create a horrible mental state and a negative downward spiral. What you want to do with each practice session, with whatever you are working on, to while remaining calm and focused, to simply let the results be the results and accept and have faith that over time you will simply get better.
Dedication pays big dividends in darts.
So now what sort of things can you do to improve your skills while also keeping it interesting so you don’t lose focus?
Well here are some of my favourite games/practice strategies. These (as far as I am aware) can all be found elsewhere, but are simply my picks and the ones I use to try to improve my own ability at darts.
This may be the first practice game I picked up that wasn't an endless assault on the triple twenty. It is a challenging game, but great practice and a great way to work on your doubles. I got it from a video of darts legend Bob Anderson which he did for Unicorn.
The object of the game is to throw three darts at each double from one to twenty. You start with a score of twenty seven, and for each double you hit you add the value of that double to your score. If however you do not hit any doubles with your three darts you subtract the value of one double. If you get down to zero you get sent back to the beginning.
This is superb practice, but also can have a fairly high frustration factor as you can lose ground rapidly at the higher numbers. If you find yourself getting frustrated and rushing your shots, take a break or switch to a new game.
This one is dirt simple. Throw fifteen darts at each double (works for the triples too!) and see how many you get. A very simple game, but one that moves you around the board and gives a nice read on where you are at. Just don’t get frustrated early on if your results are not where you want them to be. You will get there, that is what practice is for!
This game allows you to work on your numbers a little as well as your accuracy. It’s like an ’01 game, but one where you get down to the nitty gritty and start of right away trying to close. You must try to close every turn, or be working yourself into a close every turn. No playing it safe! Leave the strategy to when you’re in a real game!
This is a great game for practicing whatever 3-4 numbers you want to, while also not ignoring that trusty triple twenty.
The object of the game is simple, all you want to do is close out the numbers you have picked by hitting them three times each. The trick to it though is that for each hit to count you need to go through the ‘gatekeeper’ which is of course the triple twenty. That means you need to hit a triple twenty, and then you get your shot at your number. You can fine tune this game to your own needs, but the way I have been playing it is to allow myself three throws at a number (plus whatever remainder you had from the three darts in which you hit the triple twenty) once the triple twenty is hit. This allows a lot of practice on the triple twenty without it becoming monotonous while also forcing you to concentrate on making your shots on your selected numbers.
This game can also be great on learning to move freely around the board, depending on the locations of the numbers you pick.
How long does it take you to close out your numbers? Recording your start and end times can be a good way to track your progress. Just remember to just focus on doing well, but to not get hung up on any specific result.
Curse you Phil Taylor!
This is the game where you watch clips of Phil Taylor throwing a ton or better each time he walks up to the oche and then going and throwing an endless stream of darts at the triple twenty and wonder how he makes it look so easy.
The answer, of course is a lot of talent, but I am sure he himself would tell you it takes a ton of dedication, and of course practice, practice, practice.
There are of course other games you can play, and even ones you can invent. There is also a wealth of information and tips available, from the pro and not so pro players, including this article I wrote: Top Ten Tips How to Shoot Good Darts a Guide for Newbie Dart Players
I hope it helps. Like yourself I am a student of the game and simply trying to share as I learn.
You may also wish to check out my darts focused blog The Best lack All Conviction
It is also good to have a place to get advice and exchange ideas and stories. One place that I have stumbled across that is great for that is the Darts Nutz Forum. Well worth checking out!
Good luck, and shoot well!