Now, if you’ve played darts in a pub, or maybe you’ve watched professionals playing live over the TV, you’ll notice that every player has a different technique of holding the darts. You see, darts are very fine objects. Due to this reason, they can be held in a variety of different ways provided your hands feel comfortable. While there’s no good or bad way of holding a dart, learning how to hold a dart perfectly can have a huge significance between a perfect throw and a shameful one.
Although we’ve mentioned that there isn’t any good or bad way to hold a dart, there are a myriad of mechanical skills you need to learn if you really wish to improve your accuracy and precision. Since there’s plenty of scattered information lying all over the internet, this short guide has gathered all the useful tips and composed them into a detailed step-by-step guide on how to grip your dart appropriately.
How to Hold a Dart & How to Throw It
1. Dart Rules
Before we get to our main topic on how to hold a dart, I think it’s important if we can first understand the game of darts. This is very helpful to beginners who are unaware of this majestic game. The game of darts follows specific world-wide rules set by the World Darts Federation in 1925. Before these rules came to be, avid dart connoisseurs used to follow inconsistent rules that were imposed by the specific pubs they would play in.
Thankfully, with the implementation of these rules, avid dart players looking to play darts professionally will have an easy time learning these rules to familiarize themselves with what they’ll face when playing in professional leagues and tournaments.
The first rule is to familiarize yourself with the different available dart games. These include the 01 dart games (the 301, 501, and 701), Around the Clock, American Cricket, Chase the Dragon, Halve-it, Nine Lives, Killer, Knockout, and Tennis among others.
The next rule you need to master is how to read the scoreboard. Here, you’ll have to master the scoring system which includes the doubles, the trebles, the outer, and the inner bull. For instance, the inner bull scores 50 points while the outer bull scores 25 points. The outer double ring gives you double the segment score while the inner treble ring gives you triple the segment score.
Lastly, you need to know the height of the board from the floor and its distance from the oche (throw line). For a normal person, the height of the dartboard from the center of the bullseye to the floor should be 5ft. 8 inches. For a disabled person seated in a wheelchair, the height of the board from the Bullseye to the floor should be 4ft. 5 9/10 inches. If you’re using steel tip darts, the distance from the board to the throw line should be 7ft. 9 ¼ inches. On the other hand, if you’re using soft tip darts, the distance from the board to the oche should be 8ft.
2. Start With the Stance
Now that you’ve mastered the rules of playing darts, the next step is to position your body in a manner that feels natural and comfortable to you. The best thing about some of these dart rules is that they’re not fixed. Therefore, when it comes to the stance, you don’t have to force your body. You should instead stand in a style that feels comfortable to you provided you don’t cross the oche when throwing your darts. In case you’re struggling to find the perfect stance, here are four different stances you can experiment with.
- Front Stance: With this type of stance, both of your legs tend to face directly towards the board in a parallel position. Although some players might feel comfortable with this type of stance, it’s usually overlooked by most professional players as it doesn’t give you any scope to lean forward.
- Best Foot-Forward Stance: Here, your dominant foot stretches forward while the other foot is positioned just behind. Also, the throwing arm is positioned forward right next to the oche while the other arm is positioned right behind stretching down towards your hips. The best thing about this stance is that it doesn’t limit you to lean forward when making your throw.
- Angled Stance: This stance is quite similar to the front stance only that your feet are not facing directly towards the board. Another obvious difference with this stance is that your feet are positioned hip-width apart giving you extra room to lean forward when throwing.
- Side-On Stance: Lastly, we have a side-on stance. This is actually one of the most complex stances mostly used by professionals. It involves positioning your dominant foot parallel to the oche while the back foot sits hip-width apart and parallel to the front foot. What makes this stance so complex is the fact that you have to turn the upper body for you to aim.
3. How to Hold a Dart Professionally
Other than the stance, the next area that can be of great concern is how you hold your darts. You see, how you hold your dart can either have a negative or a positive effect on your throw. If you’re a beginner with flimsy hands, you need to avoid holding the dart too tightly or too loose. Holding it too tightly can strain your hand muscles leading to errors when throwing the darts. On the other hand, holding it too loose can lead to reduced acceleration which can affect the accuracy of your darts.
Although there’s no right or wrong way to hold a dart, there are a few factors that can hugely affect your throw. These include;
- Your darts’ weight distribution
- Finger placement
Darts’ Weight Distribution
If you’re a beginner, I believe you must be wondering how your dart’s weight distribution affects your throw right? You see, although darts look and feel the same, they have huge differences when it comes to the center of gravity. Darts are divided into four major segments. There’s the tip (which can be plastic or steel made), the barrel (which can be brass, steel, nickel, or tungsten), the shaft (which can be plastic, nylon, or aluminum), and the flights (which can also be plastic or nylon).
When it comes to holding the dart, our main area of concern is the barrel. So, when holding your dart, you need to first find the dart’s center of gravity by placing it on your open palm. Here, you’ll notice that your dart will bend forward, backward, or stay balanced. This is a clear indication that your dart is front weighted, back weighted, or even weighted.
Now, why is dart weight distribution so important? The reason why it’s important to find your darts’ center of gravity is simply to help you grip the dart in the right way. For instance, front weighted darts need to be held at the front of the barrel where most of the weight is located. This happens to back weighted darts and even weighted darts which need to be held at the back and the center.
Now that you’ve identified your darts’ center of gravity, the next area of concern is how you hold the darts before throwing. Just as we mentioned in our previous section, you need to be very careful about how you hold your darts. Since a dart is a light object, it should be held lightly the same way you hold a potato chip. The grip should not be too loose nor should it be too firm. Also, you need to consider the finger placement when holding the darts.
In darts, there are four types of finger placements you’re likely to experiment with. That’s the two fingers, three fingers, four fingers, and the five finger placement.
- Two Finger Grip: Also known as the unorthodox grip, this type of finger placement involves holding the dart with the thumb and index finger.
- Three Finger Grip: Also known as the pencil grip, this style involves gripping the dart using your thumb, index, and middle finger.
- Four Finger Grip: Another grip you can try out is the four-finger grip. Here, the dart is held using the thumb, index, middle, and ring finger.
- Five Finger Grip: Lastly, there’s the five finger grip. With this type of finger placement, the dart is held using the thumb, index, middle, ring, and pinkie finger.
Although holding the dart is a matter of personal feel and taste, having more fingers on the barrel translates to a better grip and more control over the darts. On the other hand, having too many fingers on the barrel may compromise your aim leading to a less accurate throw. So, to even out everything, beginners are always advised to consider the three-finger placement that involves holding the dart with the thumb, index, and middle finger. This style usually gives you both control and accuracy over your darts when throwing.
Now, before I conclude this point about finger placement, there’s one silent factor you need to consider—the length of your dart’s barrel. Although you may have settled on particular hand placement, the length of the barrel can greatly influence how you hold a dart. If the barrel is too short, then you’ll be forced to use fewer fingers and if it’s longer, you’ll have enough space to use more fingers.
4. Aiming the Dart
Now that you’re comfortable holding your dart, the next step is to master the proper skills for aiming the dart towards the board. Remember, to be a successful darts player, you need to aim the darts as accurately as possible towards the board to ensure that the darts land at a specific point on the board. To do this, you’ll have to;
- Hold the Dart Perfectly
Just as we’ve mentioned in our previous discussion just above, you need to hold the dart firmly but not too tightly. Always make sure that you hold the darts as lightly as possible to assume full control. Otherwise, holding the darts too tightly will strain your muscles leading to a tense, tingling sensation.
- Use Your Preferred Gripping Technique
Earlier on, we discussed the various gripping techniques. Since we said that there’s no right or wrong way to grip a dart, finding a technique that feels comfortable on your hands is quite vital when aiming. And since you’ve already practiced and mastered a technique that works best for you, this is the right time to implement it.
- Consider Your Line of Sight
Having perfected your grip, the next step is to slightly raise your arm to position the dart in the same line as your dominant eye. Although you’re free to use any eye that feels comfortable to you, one rule of thumb when it comes to hand-eye coordination is that the dominant eye always goes hand-in-hand with the dominant arm. So, if you’re left-handed, the dominant eye will be the left eye and vice versa.
- Keep the Tip-Up
Just before you release the dart, you need to ensure that your shoulder is still with the elbow positioned at a 90-degree angle. The dart should also be held with the tip pointing up to guarantee an incredibly accurate throw. You see, just like a canister or a fired bullet, a dart follows the same ballistic parabola principle. Therefore, by raising the tip, the dart will accelerate in a more controlled path towards the target without losing its kinetic energy.
5. Time to Release the Dart
If you’ve followed all these guidelines up to this point, then congratulations! You’ve just learned how to hold a dart-like a professional. Now, the last piece of the jigsaw that’s remaining is to release the dart. To do this, you have to adhere to these two rules which are snapping your wrist and following through.
- Snap Your Wrists
Since you’re looking for accuracy, balance, and acceleration of your darts, it’s important that you snap your wrist after every throw. Now, snapping the wrists isn’t as simple as it sounds. You have to snap your wrists forward and with a bit of precision as failure to do this can cause the darts to either go downwards or upwards off the target.
- Follow Through
Now that you’ve snapped your wrist, the last impression you need to make is to follow the dart through with your arm. So, once you’ve released your dart, you need to allow your arm to continue moving forward with the fingers pointing downwards. By doing this, your darts will follow a specific trajectory which will be essential in boosting the rate of accuracy.
As you can see, there’s a lot to talk about in this topic of holding a dart. Other than the grip, there are other factors you need to consider such as the type of darts you’re using, hand placement, the length of the barrels, and darts’ center of gravity among others.
Now, if you’re keen enough, you’ll realize that all of the factors we’ve discussed have a direct influence on how you hold your darts. So, if you wish to become a competitive darts player, you need to follow each of these rules we’ve discussed, and don’t forget to practice routinely. Although the rules of darts are not written in stone, success in this majestic sport is highly dependent on technique, practice, and patience.