Dart Practice: breaking a routine

Changing my dart practice routine helped me through a “mental slump”. Some times just banging away at the trip-20 isn’t the best way to practice darts.

Practice can be such a bore.

I know, I know. I keep talking about the value of dart practice and effective ways to practice, but sometimes i feel like if I have to stare down the trip-20 one more time….

I was in one of those moods today. I knew I wanted to (needed to) get some darts practice in, but, man, did I not want to be in fron of the board. I knew I had to mix things up a bit.

Now living in the UK, I never play Cricket any more. This is the land of 501. I’m not sure they even know what Cricket is apart from that strange version of baseball they have where I think you get extra points for not getting dirt on your pants, or exerting yourself as little as possible, but maybe I’m off topic….

Anyhow, I decided to throw Cricket rounds for score. I’m sure there’s loads of ways to do this; mine has always been to simply see how many rounds I need to close all the numbers. Keep it simple – no score keeping,  just get 3 of each working from 20 down to bull. In my early darting days I remember I used to average about 10 rounds – I knew I could do better with my new, improved game.

Long story short, I averaged right about 7 rounds, with one 5-rounder and realized that I need work on my bulls. More importantly, I had fun during practice, I spent about 20 minutes longer than I intended while staying focused, and I noticed a weak number (bull) I can work on next time. Plus, this was the first practice session with the new darts where I wasn’t focused on the weirdness associated with a new set.

[UPDATE: I started counting “overs” – that is anything above 3 hits. The max would be +2 for each number – no point-loading here*. The idea is that now I can tell that a little more about what I’m hitting: a lot of +1’s means I’m hitting single-triple; +2’s mean two singles and a trip, etc. ]

*(What I mean by “point-loading” here is that, as soon as I score 3 of my number, I move to the next. That’s why the max. is +2 and not +6 (3 triples)

The main thing is: rather than skip practice or rush through in an unfocused way, I had a quality session despite my bad mood. Try it next time you find practice isn’t getting you what you want.

Changing Darts Equipment

Changing dart sets for the more experienced player.

In an earlier article I stressed sticking with one set of darts and not changing things out.

I think I said something like “the darts don’t matter”.  Now I’m going to tell you about how I just changed my entire dart set.

“Liar!”,   “2-faced git”,   “I knew he was full of it”

Wait, hold on.  I still stand by what I said before but I better say it differently this time:

The darts don’t matter until you’ve reached a certain level of ability.

And even that isn’t quite right because a pro will stomp you throwing Bic pens with pigeon feathers stuffed in the end.

Anyway…..I was messing about with a friend’s set a few weeks back and I kind of liked the feel of them. I was getting really tight groups (though off target) and I thought I’d experiment a bit.

My old trusty set was 22g, no name, mid-length shaft and teardrop flight. My new set is a 24g, old style Phil Taylor Purists, same shaft and the standard kite flight.

Whew. That’s a lot of changes. Here’s a few observations:

The Dart

The Purists are a strange sort of dart. They have a longer barrel than most, a long point, a ton of texture which I don’t normally like and, most importantly, the center of gravity is further back than many darts I’ve used. What I noticed first when throwing these is that the darts hit the board at with less of an arc (i.e. they stick almost parallel to the ground) That’s a major win I think because they tend to not block the target the way a downward-pointing dart does.

By the way, how the darts land isn’t a factor of the darts, it’s the result of how I throw. Pay attention new guys!

The flight

If you want to have a weird darts session, put on a radically different flight shape and go play. Moving from teardrops to kites forces me to change more things than I care to mention, but because I’m a very light thrower I am affected more by my flight than the guys who shake the wall when they hit. Took a while to get used to seeing my darts come in on a different flight path – like someone else was throwing them. I’m still thinking about trying the teardrops on these but I seem to be able to throw these a little harder than my old ones, so I don’t mind the extra drag and I want the stability for now.

The Shaft

I started using these with the really long aluminum shafts they came with (did I metion I bought these used?) but I was all over the board with them. Not so much the points but the flights would be anywhere from 30 deg. left to 30 deg. right of the point ,so I’d obviously added a ton of left/right wobble. Going back the the medium shafts made this stop. Again, that’s a feature of my throw. If I’d always used long flights I would have corrected this by now, but seeing as I’m not trying to revamp my throw right now, I didn’t want to add another negative mechanical issue to my game.

The verdict.

Still out. I’m gonna keep the darts because being so narrow they do tend to stack nicer. (I threw a T80 the other day and I could’ve fit another 6 darts in the trip-20 bed – they were that tight.)

Still thinking that I’ll play with a the shaft and fligh variables som more. I don’t think I cna go too short on these – the whole purpose of the slim, long dart is to move the clutter away from the board, but we’ll see. I’m also gonna stick the teardrops on and see what happens.

I’d like to sort this out this week so I can get back to bitching about my technique.

Picking the right dart equipment

Choosing the right dart is a personal choice. There is no “best” dart but understanding the different options will help you pick the dart that best fits your game.

Selecting the right Dart Equipment

The Long and short (get it?) of selecting the right dart

The first rule of picking a set of darts is this: THE DARTS DON’T MATTER IF YOU CAN’T THROW. Don’t become obsessed with your equipment – Darts is a games where your gear isn’t going to make you better. This may change as you approach a high-intermediate level but for most people, focusing on what you’re throwing is not nearly as important as how you’re throwing.

With that out of the way, let me talk about the various parts of the dart and how they might affect your game.

The Barrel

This is what you spend your money on. This is where the weight of dart is and the shape and length will affect your throw the most. Anything from 21-27 grams is normal – if you’re gonna go heavier/lighter make sure you have reason. Also, these will be easier to find.

  • The length affects the dart balance – where the weight is.
  • The shape affects your grip. It’s up to you to decide what is most comfortable.
  • There’s no reason to spend more than $25 on a set of darts. I recommend having two matching sets.

The Shaft
Plastic or metal, these balance the length of the dart and the action of the flight. Shafts are cheap so be ready to replace them frequently when they bend or break,

  • Aluminum lasts longer but plastic is easier to hit or bounce off with a following dart.
  • The most important thing to consider is the length of the shaft as this most affects how your dart flies.

The Flight
The bit at the end, acts a bit like a kite. The flight provides drag (not lift) on your dart and helps to stabilize the dart’s flight.
Stick with either the large kite shape or the teardrop. Don’t get an unusual shape just to be different.  Contrary to what you may see other people do, it’s ok to have different color flights as long as they are the exact same shape and material ( you don’t have to change the whole set when one goes. ) I just buy a box of what I use and keep 4-5 in my dart case.

  • The larger the flight the slower your dart
  • A larger flight will provide more stability
  • Flights are cheap. Replace them whenever they look bent or frayed.

The Point
This is part of the barrel and should be considered with it. The only thing to know is that points can be sharpened and replaced if necessary. There are also moveable points that add a little more striking power to the dart. See “Gimmicks” below.

The Case
Yes, I consider this part of my equipment. No, it has nothing to do with how you throw but I suggest a larger case the lets you carry 2 sets of darts with the flights on them. Putting flights on and off shafts is slow, boring and wears out your flights quicker. Also, if you lose a flight in a match, it’s faster to just put on a new shaft.

The Gimmicks (flight protectors, weights, o rings, etc.)
Use them if you like but unless you really have a reason (like consistently putting one dart into the flight of another) they are just one more thing to go wrong/missing. I’d say it’s better to work on your game than your gear.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have a proper Darts shop near you, I suggest you go there. They should have a board setup so you can try different darts. It’s good to experiment with different weights and barrel shapes before you buy. When you find a set that seems right, just go with it. You’re not gonna be perfect in the store so pick something you like and go home. Remember – the physical darts don’t matter all that much so go for something shiny if you really can’t decide.
The Dart Shop is also a good place to find out about places to play, leagues and events. Also, these guys are getting killed by the Internet and I like to support the guy who deals with all the hassles of owning a proper store.
So, go get some darts and start throwing. The important thing to remember is that once you decide on a set of darts, STICK WITH THEM while you learn the art of throwing. Every time you change your gear you have to re-adjust all your throwing mechanics which will frustrate the hell out of you when you’re trying to learn.

Overcoming the “mini-slump”

There’s plenty written about getting out of the dreaded “slump” – that phase that happens to all of us when we just can’t get our game working for days or weeks on end. What I’m addressing today however is the “mini-slump”.

I’m defining a mini-slump (MS) as lasting from a few hours to a few days. I’m going to talk about why they occur and what I do when I need to play “right now” and can’t wait for it to go away on its own.

I find two main reasons why the MS occurs:

  1. I’ve put too much pressure on myself to perform and am “choking”
  2. I’ve been over-analyzing some aspect of my game and can’t return to “normal” mode

Both of these

When Dart Players had style

Bobby George talking about his career. He’s Davey’s dart hero so listen up.

I just wanted my first video on the new blog to acknowledge one of Darts’ true classics, Bobby George.
There may be better players to study, but Bobby has always been the one to watch.

Here’s  BobbyGeorge’s website if you’d like to know more.

Now you can go back to searching for Phil Taylor vids.