The Darts Comeback, Episode 1

Re-Learning Darts

Week 1

Ok, don’t worry. I won’t be giving a week-by-week rundown of this. Learning, training and putting knowledge to work take whatever time they’re gonna take.

But the first few darts sessions are pretty damned important (and seriously frustrating.)

The Good News

I haven’t missed the board, broken any windows or bounced out into my dog’s head/ass, so I’m not *that* bad.  The other good news is that I have a plan.

The Sad News

  • My groups wouldn’t fit into the top of a pint glass.
  • I must’ve thrown 15 rounds before I broke 120
  • My normal left/right spread was about 6 inches (definitely failing the “Fist Test” LINK IT). That covers anything from the 12 to the 18 beds shooting 20’s
  • My arm hurts.
  • Eyeglasses wouldn’t.

Observations

The “flow” I worked so hard to get when actively playing is gone. I couldn’t find a throwing rhythm at all. Another mark in the use-it-or-lose-it column.

My grip, throw *and* stance all felt awkward. I was thinking about all of them – a definite “don’t” in throwing well. After being off for so long, my muscle-memory suffered a bit of memory loss and nothing seemed to “click”.

What I fixed….

Following my own advice (elsewhere on this site) I broke my problems down and attacked one thing at a time.

Starting with my stance – always the first thing to get right – I went back to basics. Oddly, I couldn’t remember what my last successful stance was. I had experimented with a toe’s forward stance for a while but decided that about a 30-degree angle at the line was better for my overall body mechanics. After about an hour of tweaking foot positions, weight distribution and body alighment, it suddenly “clicked” and my body started slotting back into my old, solid stance.

Next: that damned grip…..

…I’ll save that for next time.

Improving your Darts Game – The Fist Test for Tighter Groups

Here’s a quick test for you. Throw 5-10 rounds of darts at a sinlge target and notice how far apart your darts are from each other.

The guideline I use is your (tightly clenched) fist: if your darts aren’t consistently landing in an area smaller than your fist then the only thing you should be working on in your dart game is consistency.

Consistency in darts means being able to do the exact same thing 3 times in a row. Your goal is to make every aspect of how your body moves identical through three repetitions of the same movement.

Whenever I see someone throwing wild darts, i.e. failing the Fist Test, I see poor stances, wandering body parts, changing grips and all sorts of things that lead to chaos at the dart board.

Learning to Play Darts (again)

I used to be a Dart Player

Funny thing happened while I was busy writing about, watching and reviewing other people’s darts sites:

I forgot to play darts.

It’s coming up on a year since I moved back to the US after spending 5 years in the UK. and I’ve been a little busy.

Moving, changing careers, scrapping with people I still don’t understand how I’m related to, you know…life.

Finally got around to hanging a board after 11 months back here.

News flash: I suck at darts.

We’ll, I do now anyway.

Why am I so bad now?

See, back in the UK, there was a board on every corner, in almost every pub in town. I kept a set of darts at two different pubs in case I left mine home. We played on Sunday mornings, league on Weds. nights, usually a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday before the drinking started, and pretty much any other day of the week I ran into one of my dart buddies in town.

Now I live in Phoenix, AZ. Stupid plastic darts rule here, people don’t know that Cricket is an actual sport where you wear your best whites and try not to get dirty (in the US, we call that “going to church”) and the nearest steel tip pub is about 10 miles away.

So I’m throwing at home the past few days and I’m thinking, “OK, the arm is stiff, it’ll take a bit to get the flow back”, and other self-deluding bullshit, but I finally had to accept that my game is gone for now.

What to I do?

“Jesus. How am I gonna learn to play darts again? Where do I look. I wish there was a blog about…”. Heeyyyy, wait a minute…didn’t I used to write about this stuff?

I started looking through DartsTechnique and oddly enough, there’s some good stuff here (you really should read the stuff I haven’t posted yet.)

I’m going to document the comeback (or return to form) over the next few months.

I refuse to suck at darts any longer.

Wish me luck.

[Here’s the followup post: Darts Comeback, Episode 1]

Why my last dart goes astray

Why does my third dart miss?

Recognize this?

  • First dart: Trip-20
  • Second dart: Trip-20
  • Third dart: dead center in the single 5

Does this happen to you too? Two darts on target and the third looks like someone else threw it. It feels like you’re finding a grove, and after throwing 2 darts right where you want them, you’d expect the 3rd to be pretty close, but it just seems to wander.

I fixed this in my own game a few years ago and thought this might help some of you.

Here’s where the problem usually lies – you’re doing something subtle but different on your third dart, and there’s 2 main causes that I’ve seen while watching other players with the same problem.

1)      You’re moving toward the board as part of your final throw’s motion. I know, you’re thinking, “Me? Never!” but it really helps to see this by watching other people throw. What happens here is that, after your last dart, you shift your weight forward in preparation to retrieve your darts. This would cause the position of your body/arm to be slightly different as you release dart three.

2)      Your throwing arm ends up in a different place after the last dart because your hand doesn’t have to reach back for another dart. You may notice a sort of circular motion as your hand goes out to release a dart and the returns across your body to get the next one. Since there’s no fourth dart, your hand has a different follow-through on dart three.

It may really help to have a friend watch you throw, or set your camera/phone to film you for a few rounds. It’s probably not something you consciously feel, but it is definitely the first thing to check for if your third dart is straying off the mark.

In the next post, I’ll show you how I corrected my problem and give a few tricks to fixing this particularly annoying problem.

Analyzing your darts Game – Introduction

Fixing your Darts game by looking at your groupings.

I’m working on a few ideas about how to figure out what part of your game needs the most work.

I have 4 areas that I will be developing over the next couple of weeks, but if you’d like to contribute to the discussion, it’ll help everyone get better.

Part1: Beginner issue – The “Hand Test”

If you aren’t throwing your 3 dart group in an area smaller than the size of your hand, held flat on the board, you have control issues. Your first task is working on fundamentals and practicing until you can throw a smaller grouping.

Part 2: The Sight problem: (shotgun spread)

Assuming you pass the Fist Test, if your groups are consistently high-right or below or somewhere off target, your problem is aiming. Think about a gun with a mis-aligned sight.  This is probably the easiest thing to correct

Part 3: The Power Issue (above/below spread):

Your darts end up in a narrow vertical channel, both above and below your target. Here, you may have a power problem – you’re throwing with different intensity for each dart.

Part 4: Stability (left/right spread)

Your darts hit at the same height on the board but vary to the left and or right. (You score a lot of 26s) This is probably a stance-throw problem. Somehow you haven’t locked your body down and are drifting side-to-side when you throw.

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I know this is a bit simplistic right now, but I think I’m on the right track once I explain them all. I’d really like your comments.