Darts: Becoming a better player

In this 5th and final part of my beginner’s guide to playing darts, I will address a big issue that many players wonder about: How do I get better? The 2 parts to address in this matter are mechanical skill and passion.

The drive to become a better player has kept me interested in darts for many years. But this was not always the case. I took a 3-year break from darts in 2012 because I was busy doing my 2-year National Service. I also lost interest because practising got too repetitive and boring. The only thing I did was watch professional darts on TV (Raymond Van Barneveld fan by the way!).

Thankfully, the University of Manchester has a darts society and that was where I got to meet other people who are passionate about competitive darts. My drive to become a better player was rekindled and I now play in the first team for my university.

Maybe you are one of those darts players that only enjoy the social aspect of the sport rather than being skilled at it. If that is the case, then the following tips may not apply to you. But I feel that competitive spirit is important to keep people interested in this sport, so there is a need to keep improving your game. These are what you need to consider in order to get better:

1) Practise regularly:

No way around this. The only way you can get better is to keep practising. Purchasing your own dartboard is a really good investment since it means you can practise anytime you like. I feel that practising 2-3 times a week is sufficient. A whole practice session ideally lasts around 30mins.

You will also need to tailor your own practice routine. You can ask others for some ideas on this, but don’t rely on them to help you improve. Personally, I find it very difficult to teach people on how to get better in darts because what feels natural to me may be extremely uncomfortable for another person.

2) Focus on grouping:

Close grouping of darts is the key sign of consistency. When you are able to group your darts together on a regular basis, you can then reliably make slight changes in your aiming (e.g. Throwing angle) to ensure that you hit the target next time. If your darts are flying everywhere around the board, you need to re-evaluate your throwing technique. Do not get carried away with hitting big numbers due to luck. Hitting the D20 when you are aiming for T20 is not considered a good shot!

3) Winning isn’t everything:

Winning matches may not always mean you are a better player. It is rather common in amateur darts that both players play badly, but one of them wins simply because he managed to hit the double first.

Set goals for every game you play (e.g. Score at least 40 points in each visit). Even if you lose, try and look out for signs of improvement. Did you manage to hit more trebles? Did you group your darts regularly? If you see positives in your game, you have done a good job.

4) Lastly…. Enjoy darts!

And everything comes back to this point again. Practising darts regularly requires commitment, but that does not mean that it can’t be fun. Playing with friends is the best thing I can suggest, although I usually practise alone because I don’t want to be distracted.

If you are frustrated about losing 501 repeatedly, you may want to take a break from that and play other dart games. But once you lose passion in the sport, the time it takes for you to become better will just skyrocket.

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