There are many things that we can do to provide an edge to our game aside from the actual practice. There are no shortcuts, but there are little things that often go overlooked. Here are a handful of curated, one-off questions by readers and students who are looking for dart tips that provide an edge. These, coupled with goal setting and appropriate practice can provide a competitive advantage on any level of play. But first, what is an edge?
An advantage or favorable margin.
A quality or factor that gives superiority over close rivals or competitors.
There are tools available to anyone, that don’t necessarily deal with your time on the practice board. They may seem to be unrelated to the game, but if you are willing to think outside the box, they can provide insights that few players know. I take great pleasure in finding and applying such tools. You have to look closely for they are often hiding in plain sight. If not mindful, you will look right past them.
“I have seen events so tiny and so fast they hardly can be said to have occurred at all.”
– Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen
What “Dart Tips & Tricks” videos should I watch since there are so many?
The term “tips & tricks” is a misnomer. It is catchy and alliterative, but it sells the click before you know what you are watching. There are dart tips, but there are seldom tricks. You can’t cut corners to greatness. If greatness is what you want, start with the greats. Here are a few clips I have curated. They have messages that you will miss if not listening closely. Video content should be from those that were/are great, or those that know how to impart knowledge in that medium. These aren’t the videos with the most hits but they are ones, when deciphered provide a competitive edge.
Bobby George's Darts Tips - The Numbers
Not only did this video open my eyes to how I like to shoot 102, it made me approach 104 and 114 differently for the same reasons. In short, this video is about avoiding 99 with 2 darts in-hand. 99 is the only two digit number which mathematically requires all 3 darts to checkout. As a result there are a handful of outs where you need to be mindful of what you are aiming for, and what you might spray in error.
How To Throw Darts
This Bob Anderson video seems a bit scripted but he illuminates two important things. He gives a guideline for any player to think about foot placement on the oche. The other is more subtle. Twice he uses the word “push” to describe getting the dart to the board. This was intriguing. What we readily call a throw, is more accurately described as a push when we start with the elbow height below the shoulder height.
A Multi-Millionaire Dart Player's Tips for Success
With so many Phil Taylor interviews and videos, this short one touches on mindset. He communicates such things much better than he communicates technique. You MUST set goals and you must be dedicated. He touches on sacrifice and the need for incremental goals along the way. It is not a How-to video. It is a quick Q&A by Bloomberg as a Keys for Success (in life).
How do I keep my hands from being too hot/cold/sweaty/dry?
Everyone’s hands are different based on a variety of factors. The key is to control and remove variables. The first variable to control is how you keep your darts traveling to, and during a match. Darts should always be in your hand or in your case. If it is cold, put a hand warmer in your dart case to travel and leave it in there. During the evening, never put your darts down on the bar or table. The barrels can get cold quickly even if it doesn’t seem cold in the room. Instead hold them in your throwing hand, to maintain warmth and tackiness. Consume your beverage with your off-hand so that your throwing hand does not get cold and wet. If you don’t want to hold them, they should go back in your case with the hand warmer. If you have a case in which you need to take apart your darts to put them away, invest in a dart sheath to use during play. They allow for easy access to assembled darts and they fit nicely in any pocket.
A note to smokers: If you need to smoke before you throw, and you have to go outside, you are adding the variable of the elements to your hands and darts. Plan accordingly, i.e. put your darts in the case and keep your hands warm.
If your hand is generally dry/cold, holding the darts will allow the natural moisture of your hands to build to a level that you can maintain. Keeping a hand warmer in your pocket can really help in between turns.
If your hand is generally too sweaty, A hand towel is the most consistent way to regulate moisture. Using it should be part of your routine between every turn even if your hand isn’t sweaty.
Waxes, rosins, chalks and hand conditioners are useful products for all inconsistencies with grip. The challenge that comes with them is, “how much?” and, “how often?”. It is up to you to experiment and decide.
What is a great, concentrated way to practice outs in 501?
I often throw at 82. Why?
82 combines three components that provide an edge. 1. Practicing common doubles. 2. Creating pressure. 3. Allowing for adaption. With 3 darts in your hand the 1st dart should almost always be at the bull (it should be for this practice).
1. Shooting at 82 allows us to practice four common doubles D16, D8, D20 and DB. (Note: DB practice happens on 1st and potentially 3rd dart)
2. We are creating pressure by only having 1 or 2 darts at the double. We are not throwing all 3 darts at D16 or D20 in some rote fashion. We engage the mind differently when we know each dart counts for something specific and attainable.
3. 82, if executed perfectly is DB, D16. Executing it well it is 25, 17, D20. From there, lack of precision on the bull does not preclude an opportunity at an out, it just means we must adapt further based on the 1st dart. Since this contingency happens in competition it is important to practice that mental flexibility. Missing the bull with the 1st dart leaves the possibility for 9 chances to adapt to a DB finish with a single on the 2nd dart. It also leaves the possibility for 11 chances to adapt to triple-double or double-double finish. Adaptability on 25, T17 is also important for D3. Every now and then we leave an unconventional out. Too often when we do, we get put-off. We need to hone the focus of leaving them in practice, so that it doesn’t take us out of rhythm when it happens in competition.
Is there strategy in Cricket?
Theoretically the answer is no. Just hit 7 marks every round and there is little to consider. Theory and reality are quite different though. For beginner and intermediate players there is a lot of nuance, and a lot to learn, in that regard I would say there is plenty to strategize. Cricket needs to be thought of differently from 501. The difference is this: 501 is a race, and Cricket is a fight. When you race, you need to finish before your opponent. When you fight you need to “defeat” your opponent. Here are a few ways to create an edge to defeat your opponent in cricket:
Take away your opponent’s will: Every now and then you hit 7 marks in a round, and you think, “I’ve got this”. The really important part about 7 marks is not in hitting them, but it is in withstanding them. How much resilience do you have? The key is to find your opponents’ breaking point before they find yours. Sometimes taking away your opponent’s will is about throwing an extra dart at points to the level where your opponent needs to hit 7 marks to get ahead. Many players can hit a big round when there is no pressure. Far less can do it when pressured to catch up. Again it is a fight, don’t make it easy for your opponent to hit you.
Make your opponent think: Not everyone is well-versed in reading the scoreboard of a cricket leg not going “by the book”. Sometimes shooting numbers in a different sequence is enough to give your opponent pause. They may think they are missing something or think what you have done is brash. Either way, they are thinking more than they ought to and it can make them lose focus. If an opponent has been put on tilt by pointing you have also made them think. Points should be taken and given as a sign of respect. If it has gotten to your opponent, you have created an edge.
Taking a bull early: The bull is the only number that you need 2 darts to close it. Taking a bull in the middle of a leg, if you have a slight lead means you have one less pressure-laden dart to throw at end of the game.
When is it worth moving your feet on the oche?
Some pros move a lot, some do not move at all. When scoring in 501 I advocate taking a cover shot before moving your feet to get a better angle at a blocked T20 (of course while keeping bogies in mind). Moving your feet is best reserved for getting on a better angle on a target you need to hit. This is more common in Cricket, but is also vital for blocked setups and outs in 501. By all means move your feet to get an angle on a target you MUST stay on. It is also worth moving your feet as a way to provide a new perspective if you get in a rut for too many turns/legs. It can provide a vital jumpstart if you stray off course and don’t know why
What books do you recommend to improve your dart game?
Not everyone loves to read, but if you are reading, intent on improving your game, perhaps you are processing the information in a lasting way. While there are great books specifically about the game and its history, here are three books which won’t come up in an internet search of dart books. These books are tangential to the game, but are incredibly insightful and provide edge.
Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel
A philosophy professor goes to Japan to learn about Zen Buddhism and stays for 6 years to study under a master archer. A mindful account on mastery and confidence.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
A great set of case studies on what drives success in all fields. She expounds on the work of Anders Ericcson – The Expert on experts; the scientist behind the 10,000 hours rule made popular by Malcolm Gladwell’s writing.
Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke
The poker champion talks decision-making in the world of poker and decodes it for all-around application. Part behavioral science, part decision-making strategy.
Does apparel make a difference in performance?
Yes, it does! The most important performance related apparel is your footwear and your shirt. When you find what works for you, you should wear it for ALL play and practice. Here is why.
The two greatest variables you introduce with ever-changing footwear is your vantage point to the board, and a consistency in your lean in on the oche. Changing height changes your sightline, your elbow height and the flight path of your dart. Changing the material your shoes are made of means your balance will be affected by how soft/hard an insole/outsole is, how much cushion there is etc.
After trying many different types over the years, I bought these before winning the inaugural DPLA championship and haven’t played in anything else since. (FYI – I am not paid to endorse this product, and A-Zdarts.com does not sell them) If you believe that footwear can make a difference, and are in the market for specific footwear for darts, I want you to have this edge.
They strike the perfect balance between inner comfort and outer sturdiness. The harder outsole grabs the floor consistently without that cushiony rock as you lean into the oche. The memory foam insole keeps you comfortable. Every dart player I have introduced to these shoes has become a true believer. This is why I share it with you now.
Word to the wise: Whatever footwear you decide on, try not to practice barefoot, in slippers, or in socks. We’ve all done it, but it does not provide you an edge, in fact, it does a disservice to your lean, balance, height etc. Take the moment to put on your dart shoes before practice.
In the same vain as shoes, once you find a shirt that works for you, you need to have a few of them, and wear them for practice and play. The wrong shirt/s can adversely effect elbow height, drawback, and follow through. How?
Have you ever had a sleeve ride up on your arm when throwing? Do you tug on the shoulder seam to get the sleeve out of the way? Do you feel the armpit seam tug as you lift your elbow to get into your set position? If you have felt anything along these lines, your form is being adversely effected by your shirt choice. All of these create extraneous motion and alter muscle memory, as your body conforms to the limitations of your apparel without even recognizing it.
I have experimented with dozens of shirt styles, fabrics, and cuts before I discovered the difference-maker. The most important factor is sleeve style. The best type of sleeve for unfettered range of motion is the Raglan.
The Raglan sleeve is unique in that the seam extends from lower down in the armpit to underneath the collar. There is no seam on top of the shoulder.
Jen Mounts with Magic Wear worked diligently with me to design a more functional dart shirt for us. Magic Wear now has the ability to make raglan sleeve shirts, and this signature shirt comes with the raglan sleeve as standard. This innovation in the dart shirts is a game-changer. Full disclosure: Magic Wear and A-ZDarts.com are under the same parent company. Also full disclosure: I receive no money when you purchase this shirt. My pleasure does not come from you wearing a shirt with my name on it, in fact, I insisted my name not be on it. It’s not about me. My pleasure comes from having helped to create something for us, the community. I’ve gained this edge, now it is your turn.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”-Simon Sinek
I hope by now you know, I do it for the love of the game.
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” Thomas Aquinas So, you think you