Techniques

The dart stance ~   The dart stance is often overlooked; however a proper stance sets up your whole dart game.   No matter what game you are playing make sure it starts off correctly by following these simple guidelines.

Line up properly ~   Look at the bull's-eye and draw an imaginary line down to the floor and then continue it out to the throwing line.   Find something on the floor to anchor this point, like a scuff mark or a stain.   This mark on the floor is where you should should line up every time.   By approaching the board from the exact same spot your dart throws will become more accurate and consistent.   It seems very simple, but many people line up incorrectly without realizing it.

Standing at the line ~   You have two basic options - sideways or facing the board.   Standing sideways puts your throwing arm and your eyes on the same line reducing the possibility of your arm moving side-to-side and your elbow drifting away from your body.   You can even move your back foot behind the front foot to further pull the elbow in and tighten the throw.   Your other option is facing the board with your front foot pointing at the bull's-eye and your back foot behind you and to the side for maximum balance and comfort.   Try both and decide which one is most comfortable for you.   Firm footing.   Accuracy begins with firm footing.   Feet should be shoulder's width apart with a flat front foot that carries more weight than the back foot.   The front foot provides a steady base that reduces fatigue, and the back foot maintains balance and helps with accuracy.   Leaning too far forward can lead to possible back injuries over time so make sure your stance isn't too far forward to cause strain or pain after throwing.

Shoulder position ~   Your shoulders should be parallel to the ground - but personal style can vary from 50 to 90 degrees based on throwing comfort.   The shoulder stays fixed as does the rest of the body.   Try to keep your spine as straight and still as possible while keeping your arm relaxed and in control.   Avoid lunging towards the board.   Only your arm and hand should follow-through to the board.

Dart grip basics ~   There isn't a right or wrong grip.   A dart grip depends on two things - the type of dart barrel you use and the finger positioning that feels most natural to you.   Everyone holds the dart slightly differently.   However, there are four things you should understand before you decide which grip is best for your game.

Get your tip up ~   Always make sure the tip of your dart is facing up.   Your grip shouldn't cause your darts to face downward as this makes it very difficult to accurately throw a dart.   Pay attention to where your darts are pointing just before you release the dart.   If they are pointing slightly down adjust your grip so the darts point higher before your throw.

Holding the dart ~   Make sure your grip isn't too loose or too tight.   A good rule of thumb is to hold the dart as if it was a crisp - too tight and you crack the crisp, too loose and it falls out of your hand.   Throwing great darts comes from a relaxed, yet firm grip.

Keep your free fingers open ~   You shouldn't close your free fingers into your palm; instead let them remain in an open position that feels comfortable.   By closing those free fingers you can develop a muscle strain in the other fingers creating a strained throw instead of a relaxed, fluid throw.   You can also increase your chances of pushing the dart tip down, instead of keeping it pointing up.

Find the dart's center of gravity ~   Place your dart across the palm of your throwing hand and balance it between your thumb and your little finger to find the dart's center of gravity.   Next use your non-throwing hand to move the dart from your palm to your fingertips, keeping it in the same position.   This should be your natural grip.   Hold the dart in a way that feels comfortable however your grip should never touch the shaft or the flight.

Throwing basics ~  Basic throwing techniques in the game of darts.  The throw is the most important element of a successful dart player.   And yet, most players don't analyze this critical aspect of their dart game.   Most people go with what feels most comfortable without thinking about how they could be sabotaging their dart game.   The next time you are shooting darts, take a closer look at how other people throw darts.   Some rock back and forth, some lunge forward with every throw, some throw quickly and without a follow-through, and others balance on one foot.

Every throw is unique ~ but here are few things you should know before you develop your dart throw:  Proper alignment.   The first step to a good throw is aligning your shoulder, elbow and hand in a straight line.   All three should point at the board.   Some people move their elbow slightly to the left or to the right depending on personal preference, but don't go too far with this movement because it can develop into bad mechanics.

Steady throwing motion ~   The ideal throwing motion is similar to how you would swing a hammer.   Using your elbow your hand and your wrist for speed and your shoulder for support.   As you extend your arm the elbow should rise up and create the force needed to speed the dart towards the board.

Holding the dart ~   Don't hold the dart sideways at the beginning of your throw.   To achieve a high level of skill at darts all non-essential motions should be minimized or avoided.   Keep your darts level and pointed directly at the target.  

Balanced stance ~   A strong center of balance is very important to the throw.   Whatever you do, make sure you're balanced when throwing.   Leaning or swaying is typically a bad idea because it makes the dart board not only a small target, but a moving target.

Consistent release ~   This is very difficult to monitor, however a reliable release point for your dart throw is crucial to achieving consistency.   Some players release the dart early in the throw, when the arm has just begun the forward motion.   Others wait longer and release the dart at the very end of the throwing motion.   Find out what is most comfortable for you and practice consistency with the release point.

Snapping the wrist ~   Not all players snap their wrist at the end of the throw because it is one more thing that can go wrong in the throw.   However, it does help with acceleration in the last phase of your throw.   A slower, controlled throw can increase accuracy and snapping your wrist like a whip can provide sufficient speed at the end of the throw.  

Follow-through ~   A follow-through is critical.   When a great basketball player takes a shot his hand follows through the motion of shooting the ball.   Darts requires the same motion.   At the end of your throw your fingers should be pointing at your target or down towards the floor.   If you are pointing up to the sky then you probably aren't following through properly.

Creating a pace to throw your dart ~   Dart throwers of all skill levels can benefit from a steady throwing pace.   By focusing on your natural throwing process you can make sure your pace is the same every time you face the dartboard.

Use timing to create a steady pace ~   A steady and consistent pace is an often overlooked but critical part of the game of darts.  Concentrate on your approach.   Take note where you approach the dart line, how you address the dartboard and what your follow through looks like.   Make a mental picture of this process and try to re-create it every time you throw a dart.   Your natural pace will emerge after a few hours of playing darts.

Never change your pace ~   Whether your opponent is a fast or slow dart thrower, do not change your pace.   Stay focused and throw the game at your natural speed.   If you catch yourself rushing, step off the throwing line, take a deep breath, and get back into your natural rhythm.

Aiming your darts ~   Many people either aim naturally and don't think about it or don't actively aim at all.   Either way, you should pay attention to aiming.   By truly concentrating on the board you can feel your focus being drawn into the diagonal lines.   Then try to imagine your target area is bigger than it really is.   Experiment with the following aiming options and make sure to practice.   The key to consistent aiming is practicing until it becomes second nature.

Find a sight line ~   Some people use a sight line on their throwing hand to help them aim.   For example, you could use the first or second knuckle on the thumb of your throwing hand.   Some people use the tip of the dart.   Others use the small finger of the throwing hand to line up properly.   The ultimate goal with a sight line is to line up your shot consistently.

Lead with your elbow ~  You start by being aware of where your elbow is pointing.   Make sure your elbow is pointing slightly up and directly at the dart board.   When you start your throw your elbow leads the process followed by the basic mechanics of your throw.

Aim directly at your target ~   Some people try to aim to the left or right of the real target.   This is just lazy darts and can lead to technical and mental problems the longer you throw.   If you are aiming at triple 20 and you miss to the left then aim directly in the middle of the triple 20 again.   Don't try to aim to the right to overcompensate for the last throw.

Know your dominant eye ~   Everyone has a dominate eye and it's important to make sure you lead your aiming with that eye.   If you don't know which of your eyes is dominant take turns throwing three darts with each eye closed.   Which ever eye you have to struggle to keep closed while you throw your darts is your dominate eye.   Make sure you lead with this eye and you will naturally gain confidence as you throw.

Practice guidelines for darts ~  Practice makes perfect.   That is as true for darts as it is for any other sport.   If you want to play consistent and competitive darts you need to practice as often as possible.   Some people recommend shooting at least one hour per day.   However the amount of time you practice is irrelevant.   How you go about practicing and sticking to a schedule are the two most important aspects of practicing.   Here are a few pointers to consider.

Take it seriously ~   You should approach practicing just like you would a match.   Make sure to stay focused and work on a specific goal for each session.   This is where the amount of time you spend practicing becomes irrelevant.   If you set specific goals for each practice session then once you achieve those goals you can stop practicing.   It isn't about quantity, but rather quality of practicing.

Simulate a high-pressure environment ~ You can do this by shooting with someone who is also serious about practicing.   You can also create pressure situations by using the clock.   For example, give yourself 10 minutes to shoot as many double 20s as possible.   Keep track of your high number and try to beat it.   You can also replay an old match you lost, trying to change the outcome by shooting differently.

Focus on your weaknesses ~   Pay attention to what happened to you the next time you lose.   Did you take too long to close out your '01 game? Did you choke on your out shot? Whatever your weakness, choose practice games that help you.   If you need work on your outs, try a game called 170.   You need 170 points to finish and you count the number of darts to do it.   The fewer the darts the more points you get.   It starts with a three dart finish worth five points and decreases by one point for each additional dart, including negative points.   The first one to close out 170 stops the round.   The first one to 15 points wins the practice session.

Change things up & keep track of your progress.   important thing to remember is to keep track of your practice routines.   Write down your results after you practice and track your progress.   This can also help to reveal parts of your dart game that need special attention if you aren't progressing over time.

How to get in the zone ~   What a great feeling it is to be in the zone when throwing darts.   You just know that every throw is going to be spectacular.   Unfortunately, being in the dart zone doesn't happen all that often for most amateur dart players.   Here are a few tips to help you get in the zone more often: Positive visualization.   Close your eyes and visualize the dart going exactly where you're aiming.   Remember the last time you threw a great round of darts.   Close your eyes and picture your dart landing in the perfect spot.   Channel the positive energy through your arm to your fingers and to the eventual release of the dart.   Open your eyes, take a moment to concentrate on your physical target and throw your darts with confidence.

Stretch and warm up properly ~   We all forget to stretch, but it goes a long way to ensure a great round of darts.   Get your physical body ready to throw by stretching your finger joints, forearms, biceps, triceps and back.   If you are stiff at the start of a match there's a good chance you will start slow and it could affect your confidence at the dart line.

Have a calm state of mind ~   Concentrate on slowing down your heart rate.   Before a match, minimize any activity that makes you anxious.   Get to the match early and try to relax.   Take a walk around the block.   Concentrate on slowing down your breathing throughout the night.   There have been many studies that link a breakdown in motor reflexes with nervous, quick breathing.

Don't over-think it ~   Have confidence in your game and throw your darts.   The zone will come, but you can't force it.   So get over the thought that you have to be perfect every time you throw.   Play as if each dart is a new dart and keep a positive attitude.   Just believe in your game and let 'em rip.  



This article is reproduced from http://nicedarts.com/ with the kind permission of David Ozyp - Visit this site for loads more tips, tricks & insights into playing darts

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