So you want to learn how to play darts? There are dozens of games and hundreds of variations that you could play. If you’re really serious, there are even local dart leagues that you can play in in most cities and even a number of towns around the United States and Europe.
But if you’re just starting out, here are a few tips that will help you get started and have fun while improving your technique.
1. Learn to Play Cricket
Even if you don’t play it often, at least learn how to play Cricket. This is far and away the most popular dart game. Most public spaces that have darts will include a Cricket board for keeping score and the vast majority of dart players that you’re likely to encounter know this game, even if they don’t know any other.
This isn’t to say that you have to practice Cricket or even play it that often. You can focus on playing the games that you want. But it’s a good idea to at least know this one in case you make friends in a bar and would like to play a game that everybody is familiar with. It’s a pretty easy game to learn and there are plenty of websites online with instructions, so be sure to look it up, try it out a couple time to familiarize yourself with the rules, and keep that knowledge under your belt in case you need it.
2. Pay Attention to Your Grip and Stance
The way you hold your darts and the way you stand when you throw are both very important to how well you’ll do in the game.
Be sure that you stand with your dominant foot forward and your body aligned with your dart and your target. Reducing the number of planes that you’re working on while throwing will help you become more accurate and make you more comfortable.
Balance your weight slightly forward, but not enough that you start to fall forward. You can lean over the line in most dart games, but make sure that you keep both feet planted so that you don’t abruptly change the angle of your aim at the last second.
Check that you aren’t gripping your darts too tightly. It doesn’t take a whole lot of power to hold a dart and throw it at the dart board. The tighter you grip, the more your dart will twist in your hand and hit to the right or left of where you’re aiming. The knurling on the barrel will do most of the work keeping you from dropping the dart while you aim, so instead focus on holding it in a comfortable grip with your unused fingers held up and away to keep your hand from cramping.
It’s best to keep the grips on your darts consistent – if you buy both soft tip darts as well as traditional ones, get them from the same brand with similar knurling.
3. Get Decent Darts
The vast majority of beginner dart players who abandon the game, end up doing so because their darts keep breaking. A lot of dart boards come with a set or two of darts, but these are generally pretty cheap, plastic ones. Many of them will break the first time you use them or come cracked in the box. This gives the impression that darts is a cheap, throwaway game, and not worth their time.
The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. A good set of darts can be the difference between improvement and quitting.
While every person will find different preferences for their darts, there are a few things to consider.
First, get something better than plastic shafts. These are cheap and even in the best conditions will break pretty easily. If you want to keep a handful around for big parties, it couldn’t hurt, but you deserve a better set.
For beginners that want to be serious about darts, aluminum shafts are a great start. They’re strong, a little weightier than plastic, and will last for a while. They tend to slip if you don’t get rubber o-rings for them and can bend over time, but these will help you get started. Eventually, you might consider tungsten shafts, which are the kind used by professionals because it’s a dense metal.
Try a variety of different barrels. These come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. If you’re more comfortable throwing with four fingers instead of three, a longer barrel can make this even better. If your fingers tend to be slippery, you’ll want something with good knurling. Don’t be afraid to go to a store and test different combinations to find what works best for you. You’ll also need to know how to take care and maintain both your darts and your dart board.
In the end, that’s the only measure of a good dart: the one that you enjoy throwing the most and helps you play better. With the right darts, the right stance, and an understanding of different games, you’ll have no problem getting the most out of a dart hobby.
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