dartbase.com - The Dart Thrower
How do I get better?

How do I get better?

Practice. Make a point of setting a goal for each session. Try to develop a consistent stroke. Try to eliminate unnecessary motion of the body or the arm. Follow through. (Many players end a throw with their fingers pointing at the board.) Compete with friends. Have a good time. Try to get in the "zone" and don't think about your mechanics as you play! (It doesn't matter whether you breath in or out on your throw.)  

Here are some ideas to think about:

In reply to a question from defron@peca.cs.umn.edu (Daniel Efron) who asks,

"Is it bad for darts to spin on their way to the dart board?",

Bob Lanctot had this to say

"Only if you stare at them - you can get such a dizzy spell and fall on the floor and everybody will think you are drunk again and carry you out and leave you in a snow bank. (Assuming you aren't living in a gloriously warm place.) :-)

Actually, not at all. I find that a slight spin gives the dart stability in flight. Mine spin - have for 20 years."

David Clark (dac@pyrtech.mis.pyramid.com) says:

"On that note , I've recently been adjusting my throw and have come up with some better results and I got to thinking if there is a general approach I might try ( I've read the FAQs ). What I mean is ... Some people tend to align the dart in it's flight path ( point the tip at the desired entry point then throw ) in fact most people I've seen throw do this. I have always pointed the flight at my entry point then in the recoil , turned it in the right direction then shot. Anyone else use this method? Do you find it accurate (Maybe that should say are you a shit hot player :)"

To this, Bob Lanctot replies:

"I've seen a number of players throw that way over the years, some pretty good, some pretty bad. I've known a couple who like to hold the dart parallel to the board when they aim too. One guy used to throw it that way too. Pretty bad thing to do. Most of the time the dart would stick in the board at about a 30 degree angle to the right. Many times it would end up on the floor accelerated by the edge of the board. Bent his points that way, too. I haven't seen him in about 17 years. I hope he quit playing 'cause he'd've gone broke replacing points (or darts).

I used to aim by using the flight as a "V" - a sort of sight. Now I don't sight quite that way any more but when I aim, the dart is close to 90 degrees to the board. I guess most people do it that way."

Perry Israel comments:

"I personally believe that trying to add spin to your darts (as opposed to acquiring it naturally) can add too much extra motion to your game. If it comes naturally to you, fine. If not, don't worry about it." 

To which Bob responds:

"A slight spin on the dart tends to help if fly straight and true by maintaining stability and reduce lateral wobble."

wayne@becks.cac.stratus.com (Wayne Newberry) has the following to add,

"I will comment on these two points, and leave the mental preparation part of his post for another 'soap box' session. Here are my thoughts:

For me, the ability to produce tight groups is the acid test of any change I'm trying out, whether it is with equipment or technique. I am, by nature, an experimenter, so what I've written below is based on my own experience. I read whatever I could find when I started shooting, but since then I've done a lot of trial and error work in fitting that information into my own game.

Stance: I am a firm believer in 'minimum body motion' because I want to introduce as few errors as possible into the throw. I believe strongly that any swaying of my body will either mess up my accuracy or require some kind of compensating motion that will lead to a style that will break down under pressure. In the past, I have stood with almost all my weight on my forward foot with my rear foot just touching the floor, and leaned WAY forward. This was my way of dealing with my own uncertainty about hitting the target reliably. I have found that the distance gained by leaning forward was more than offset by the loss of accuracy in this shaky stance. When I moved to a more stable stance, I found that I could adjust quite easily to the new distance from the board, and my groups tightened up right away.  

Grip: As I mentioned in a post a while back, I've actually used a video camera (mounted on a tripod, and pointed over my shoulder) to study the motion of my darts. Based on this, I know that it IS important to release a dart so that it is pointing perpendicular to the board. What I saw when a dart was released at an angle were two things:

1. The dart oscillated as the air had the normal effect on the flights. This could be side to side, up and down, or some combination, depending on the angles at release. This was what I expected and what makes basic sense.

2. Whenever the dart was pointed in any direction other than straight forward, it tended to move slightly in that direction. If I released it pointing to the left it tended to go left, then, as it straightened out and oscillated to point right, it started to go right. By the time it hit the board, it was again pointing left and going left. These oscillations were around the center of mass, I'm assuming, so you could say that the dart stayed mostly on target all the way, but there is a problem with this thought. I'm interested in where the point hits the board. If the dart is pointed either left, right, up, or down, the point will be off target compared to what I want. I've tried to figure out how far off it can be, and I've found that even small amounts of oscillation can make the point hit the width of a double off target. This is not something that I scientifically measured, but it was enough to convince me that my goal should be a clean release, without oscillation of any kind.

Sometimes I even achieve that!  

Hope this helps. Tight Groups to everyone!"

tammaro@chem1.fi.ameslab.gov (Michael Tammaro) adds:

"My theory has at times been the following: When you throw the dart, grip it at it's center of gravity and imagine that that part of the dart is the only part that exists. In other words, hold it comfortably, but forget about what angle the shaft is at (but be sure that that angle is consistent). It's almost like you are throwing a rock at the board. Wayne brings up a very good point- in the process of straightening out, the dart will oscillate a small amount and go slightly in the direction it is pointed. You can imagine that if you are consistent, you will automatically, in time, learn how to compensate for this motion. BUT! As we all know, the more things you have to compensate for (i.e. extra leg motion) the worse off you are.

My conclusion is the following: I believe that if the dart is held almost straight to the board at the time of release, the oscillations will be VERY SMALL, and also the veering off of the dart will be VERY SMALL. So I will try to incorporate a grip that points the dart more towards the board. (When I try to point the dart exactly at the board I find that there is a lot of tension in the wrist which cannot be good)."

ae233@FreeNet.Carleton.CA(Bob Lanctot), never one to be shy about contributing, says:

"Try keeping your arm and release straight. Make sure you are following through when you release the dart and not pushing or snapping your throw. The position of your thumb is also something to watch our for as it will effect the way you release your dart. Finally, go to your board and experiment with how you're throwing keeping these things in mind. Don't worry too much about where your darts are going, rather 'how' they're going for now until you find out what your doing (or not doing) to cause them to wobble."

wayne@becks.cac.stratus.com(Wayne Newberry) gives two more cents' worth:

"I use the same approach as Bob, and there is one other thing that I think about as I try to figure out what's wrong. I have noticed that I need to have a very relaxed throwing hand. A little tension in that hand can make for some sideways pressure (caused by a finger or thumb) during the release of the dart. Once my hand is relaxed while releasing the dart, then I watch for the position of the thumb and the follow-through that Bob has talked about. Remember that the dart is light enough that small changes in your grip and release will definitely have an effect on the flight of the dart through the air. Stance is an important part of a good game, but a change in stance doesn't tend to produce wobble, at least not in my experience."