It’s an old mantra you hear time and time again—practice makes perfect, and the only way you are going to improve your darts scores is by getting into a regular practice routine. Establishing a regular practice routine will help you improve your muscle memory, which will cause higher and more consistent scoring.
If you are serious about improving your darts, then it’s a must-have your own dartboard set up, or at least a dartboard you can access every day. The key is to practice daily, and while this might scare some of you off, a short daily practice of ten minutes will produce better results than one weekly marathon session. Committing the time to practice is one of the biggest hurdles you have to cross, but from small acorns grow mighty oaks.
The key to practice is to develop routines that work for the board. If you just throw at triple 20s all the time, you might become good at them, but you won’t be any good at finishing a game. You should take practice as seriously as a match. Ensure that your practice time is going to be free from interruptions so your mind is focused solely on your darts. It is also very important to record your scores every practice session so you can see how your averages improve over time.
How you pick your routines is going to be based on the time you can commit. I try to put in at least 30 minutes a day of practice, but it’s been two weeks since my last practice session thanks to the Christmas break. Hey, I’m only human!
First thing you always need to do is loosen up. I like to go around the board, hitting every number in sequence, a couple of times to get myself warmed up. This gives me time to relax and concentrate on my stance, grip, and throwing action.
What I do next generally depends on what kind of mood I’m in. There are a lot of routines I go through, but I rarely have time to work them all in one session. As I record all my practices and put them onto a spreadsheet, I can see which ones I’ve been neglecting and in what areas I need to practice more.
Here are some of my regular routines:
I play at lot of ’01 games when I’m practicing, not just to improve my game, but also because I suck at the math! What I do when playing through ’01 games is to play against an imaginary partner, and I’ve got to take the game in a set number of darts. You can set the number of darts to finish the game in to suit your skill level, but it should still be a challenge.
For 501 games, if it’s taking you about 30 darts to play through a game of 501, then set your goal at 27 darts to finish for a win. Keep pushing yourself as you achieve your targets, and soon you’ll be throwing nine dart finishes for fun. Well, we can dream! Remember to record your dart averages, and the numbers of wins and losses.
301 games obviously take a lot fewer darts to finish, so I always play double-in to start. Like the 501 game, I keep a record of my darts averages and yes, every time I can’t hit that double to start I’m putting it down as a zero. This can get very frustrating when I’m having an off day!
To mix things up, I’ll occasionally throw some 701 and 1001 games just for extra practice on the 20s.
There are numerous other ’01 variations you can use to spice up your practice. Ones I like to add into the mix are doubles-in, triples-in, and bulls-in to start.
Round the Board Variations
Round the board games contribute a lot to my practice sessions, and for good reason. They give you a chance to shoot at every number on the board. When going round the board, I will aim for singles of each number finishing with a bull, then I will go round again just going for doubles of each number, and then I’ll do a round going for the triples of each number. Each time I play through a round, I record how many darts it takes me to complete and try to beat it next time. Another way I like to play round the board is to throw three in a bed on each number. Another way to play is to “Shanghai” each number on the board. A Shanghai is when you hit the single, triple, and double of a number with three darts.
I do like to play cricket, so it makes sense to put some cricket routines into the mix. I usually like to start off with a few rounds of quick cricket. This is just throwing for the numbers and seeing how many darts it takes to close everything. Then I will also play against my imaginary friend, giving him the benefit of the doubt, so he scores three singles each round, meaning I have to hit some doubles and triples on my way to imaginary glory.
Shanghai is a game I rarely play, but I do like like using it for practice sessions as it involves the entire board if you do a full twenty rounds. Like when doing cricket practice, I give my opponent three singles each round so I have a score to beat, but I’m looking to win each with a Shanghai. If you find this one too easy, you can also add a rule that your Shanghais are in order like single first, double second, and triple on the third dart.
Common and Bogey Numbers
There’s nothing wrong with just shooting at common targets like the bull and triple twenty. Just don’t overdo it or that’s all you’ll ever be able to hit. As well as giving a little extra time to these areas, also work your magic doubles, especially that magic double 16. Speaking of the pesky 16, I like to practice just trying to get a single on that S.O.B. I don’t know why, but that’s a real bogey number for me. Whenever I’m throwing for 16s in cricket, the dartitis always seems to strike and I’ve thrown many a game from my incompetence at this target. Identify any of your weak numbers and hammer the buggers till they are conquered. Scratch that—don’t obsess on them. Think positive, and you’ll soon reach darting nirvana.