How to practice playing darts
Darts is a sport that takes a lot of determination and skill, but to succeed you need to practice! We have gathered up lots of advice and our top practice tips are: warm up, practice your doubles and checkouts, and work on your scoring power.
This guide will give you some helpful advice on how best to practice in order to get the most out of your game.
Why should you practice?
Darts practice is something that you should take very seriously if you want to improve your game. The world’s best players have spent hours each day over many years honing their skills to propel their own game to the top.
A practice routine will differ from player to player and has been carefully designed to suit their own personal needs. It can also change over time as players look to strengthen or work on certain areas of their game that need more attention.
Watch the video below with Mission Ambassador Wayne Mardle on how to find a practice routine that suits you and why you shouldn't practice too much.
Darts may not be a sport that is likely to cause a serious injury but warming up before play can be useful in loosening up your arm muscles. If you are planning on a long practice session, then some stretching beforehand is advisable.
A warm up also gives you a chance to throw a few darts to get into a rhythm before starting any practice routines. You might want to start by throwing at the 20s for 5-10 minutes, followed by 5-10 minutes throwing at your preferred doubles and the bullseye.
Working on your scoring power
The scoring phase of the game is an important part in darts and is the first point of focus in a traditional leg of 501. Each player takes it in turns to get from 501 points down to zero, with the aim to finish on a double before your opponent.
The treble 20 is the highest-scoring segment on the board and will be the first target a player will aim for in a leg of 501. Improving your scoring power is an integral part in giving yourself a better chance of getting down to a checkout (170 and below) first.
Spending a prolonged period of time practicing on the treble 20, along with the other high-scoring trebles, like 19s, 18s and 17s, can help increase your skills in the scoring part of the game.
Below is a video from Sky Sports darts pundit and commentator Wayne Mardle who explains how to play his favourite practice game: ‘Straight 20s’.
Focusing on smaller targets
Being able to group the darts close together is a sign of a great player. Spending time during your practice routine by focusing on a specific target can be useful in developing your focus and hand-eye coordination – two important factors when playing darts.
To focus on a smaller target, why not try out Darryl Fitton’s Accuracy Trainer to help improve the accuracy of your game? Watch the video below to see Mission’s Player Development Manager, Darryl Fitton, explain how to use his Accuracy Trainer.
Practice your doubles
As Bobby George once famously said: “Scoring for show, doubles for dough.” Being able to hit the double before your opponent is ultimately what will decide the outcome of the game.
There are various different games to practice your doubles, with the most popular being ‘Round The Clock.’ This is where you start on double one and work your way round the board, hitting each double in numerical order until you finish on the bullseye.
Round The Clock is a useful game to help you practice on all of the doubles on the board. It can also be changed to focus on hitting the singles from 1-20. This is a game which you can also play along with friends to see who can finish first.
Check out the video below with PDC star Alan Soutar on the importance of practicing on the doubles.
Practice your checkouts
The main aim in a game of darts is to ‘check out’ before your opponent. Practicing on your checkouts will help improve your skills when it comes to finishing a leg of 501.
For new players, this is also an important part of practice as it will help you learn the different routes for different checkouts without the pressure of being in a game.
A popular game for practicing checkouts is ‘121’ where you start on 121 and have a certain amount of darts to check out depending on your ability. Some players will give themselves six darts, while 9-12 darts is a good place to start for beginners.
Once you have checked out 121, you then move up one to 122, and so on, and see how far you can get. To increase the difficulty, if you fail to check out in your allotted number of darts, you go down one. For example, if you do not take out 121, you would then go down to 120.
Playing the 'invisible man’
How do you try and recreate in game situations without a practice partner to play against? The ‘Invisible Man’ game is when you give yourself a set number of darts to finish from 501.
If you check out within your allotted number of darts then you win the leg, but if you are unable to then the ‘invisible man’ wins the leg.
Like the ‘121’ game, this is a routine you can tinker with to make it as easy or as difficult as you want. You may prefer to start with a more modest number of darts, before making it a harder challenge as your skills improve.
This is a handy game for practicing on all areas of darts, while also making it competitive as you are ‘playing’ against someone else.