How to Throw a Dart with Precision
It’s often said that darts is a game that takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master, but the sooner you get a handle on how to throw a dart with precision, the sooner you’ll be able to conquer popular games like 501 and throw those arrows like the pros.
Still, that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?
If you’ve ever stood before your dartboard aiming for a 20 only to land somewhere around 18 (or maybe even off the board altogether!), you’ll know that mastering the art of precision dart throwing is no easy task.
That said, there are a few things you can to make things that much easier.
Every last detail, from the way you stand to the way you move your arm, even the way you hold your darts, can affect where your dart ultimately ends up. So in this guide, we’ve tasked our top darts experts to talk you step-by-step through the process of perfecting your throwing technique, covering all of those little details and more besides.
How to Throw a Dart with Precision
Choose Your Darts Wisely
There’s an old saying about how a good workman never blames their tools. In other words, it’s all about the talent of the individual, rather than the equipment they use, that determines the success of their work.
The same principle applies to darts too.
If you’re not currently playing as good as you’d like, practicing the proper technique and increasing your ability is going to produce a bigger improvement in your performance than simply buying a new set of darts ever could.
Yet that doesn’t mean that the right darts won’t play a factor.
The kind of beginner-friendly darts that come with most dartboard sets are often too light to get a really good, straight throw with. They also tend to lack top quality dart flights which can also have a serious impact on your game.
So if you’re really going to get good at throwing darts with precision, it pays to get some quality darts. We love IgnatGames’ professional-grade steel tip darts, though you might want to shop around and find a pro-quality set that’s right for you.
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Adopt a Good Dart-Throwing Stance
Though darts seems like it’s a game predominantly about arm movement, your entire body plays a part in determining the accuracy of your throw.
You need to adopt a stance that ensures you’re properly balanced and that your body, arm, and eye and throwing hand are all perfectly in line with the target.
Here’s how to do that:
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Stand on the throwing line with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Your dominant foot -the foot on the same side of your body as your throwing hand- should be at the front, so if you’re right-handed, your right foot goes in front and vice versa if you’re left-handed.
This dominant foot provides a solid base for your throw and should bear the majority of your weight. To do this, it should be perfectly flat on the floor.
Use Your Back Foot for Balance
Meanwhile, your back foot is used to help you maintain balance during your throw. Again, you can keep this flat on the floor, though some players find it helpful to raise this foot up ever-so-slightly onto their toes.
You can experiment with whatever works best for you, but once you’ve found your preferred foot stance, stick with it as a consistent stance will ensure you’re throwing, in the same way, every time and help you improve your game.
Keep Your Legs Straight
Many novice darts players are tempted to bend the knees and spring upwards when throwing the dart as if they were shooting a hoop in basketball.
Though it’s a natural thing to want to do given the stance, this actually works against you as it’s harder to get an accurate throw when you’re in motion than it is when standing perfectly still.
Your throwing should be done entirely with the arm, using your legs only as a solid, stable base to support you.
It’s also natural to want to lean forward towards the board to reduce your throwing distance, and you’ll often see inexperienced players leaning far forward.
The big problem with this is that the longer you play, the more your back is going hurt. A sore back is only going to put you off your game and make it harder to throw straight.
As such, it’s better to aim for a slight tilt rather than a full-on lean, aiming your body towards the board without overextending.
Maintain Good Arm Position
Your shoulders should be parallel to the ground with your non-throwing arm close to your body but relaxed at the same time.
Likewise, your throwing arm should be relaxed but steady. It’s so much harder to keep your arm straight and on target when it’s tense.
Don’t believe us?
Try tensing your arm right now and notice how that arm trembles slightly.
Now imagine trying to throw a straight with that arm. It’s going to be much more difficult than if your arm was relaxed, isn’t it?
Move Only the Elbow
Another novice mistake is to use the entire arm to throw as if hurling a cornhole bag or something similar.
That’s a great technique if you want to throw something as far as possible, but when it comes to accuracy and precision, it’s much better to keep the shoulder and upper arm straight and throw using your elbow.
The most important factor of all is to find a way to do all of this in a way that feels comfortable. If the way you’re standing makes you feel sore or uncomfortable, it’s going to affect your game in a negative way, so take some time to develop a comfortable stance before moving on to the next step.
Hold the Dart Properly
Getting a proper grip on your darts can make all the difference to the accuracy of your throw.
Because the better your grip, the more control you’ll have over your dart, and the greater your chance of landing it exactly where you want it to land.
On the face of it, there’s no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” way to hold a dart.
Many professional players have all mastered their own grip techniques that have helped them become the best in their sport. Yet while all of these techniques may be slightly different, they do have a few things in common, such as:
Gripping at the Center of Gravity
Extend one finger and balance the dart on it. The point at which the dart lies still without tipping backward or forward is the center of gravity.
Holding that dart around this point will help to improve accuracy by ensuring the dart is perfectly balanced throughout the throw.
Using a 3 or 4 Finger Grip
Tempting though it may be to simply hold the dart between your thumb and ring finger, that doesn’t give you the stability you need to keep your aim steady, nor does it always put enough power behind your throw to ensure that the dart stays on its intended trajectory.
For better results, you’ll want to use at least a 3-finger grip, with a thumb on the bottom of your dart and -ideally- your middle and index finger on the other side. If that doesn’t feel comfortable, you can always try your ring and middle finger.
This approach tends to offer a good amount of control while still making it easy to release the dart and is generally preferred by a lot of players. Alternatively, some do opt for a 4-finger grip.
For this, you’ll again want to place your thumb underneath the dart support and put your ring, middle, and index finger on top.
Keeping Other Fingers Clear
Whichever approach you use, keep any fingers not touching the dart open and pointing up, rather than pressed against your palm as the latter creates unnecessary tension which can limit the precision of your throw.
A Relaxed Grip
Remember what we said earlier about tension making it harder to throw accurately?
The same applies to your grip.
Ideally, you want a nice, relaxed grip that is not so loose that you have no control over the dart but not so hard that it feels like you’re squeezing it.
Think of it like holding an egg; you want to keep a decent hold so that you don’t drop it, but you also don’t want to put too much pressure on it or else the egg will crack.
That’s the kind of grip you should ideally be going for.
You’re standing tall, you’re poised, ready, and with a grip that is at once both relaxed and fully in control.
Now, it’s time to aim.
The trick here is to get everything in perfect alignment. Your arm, your hand, your eye, and the tip of the dart should all be in a straight line, pointing towards part of the board you want to hit.
Of course, this sounds fairly straightforward, but getting a good aim on your darts is often trickier than it sounds thanks to something called the Parabolic curve.
The Parabolic Curve
This curve describes what happens to your dart between leaving your grip and reaching the board.
Though you may not realize it as that dart goes soaring through the air, it actually travels upwards to a certain point then begins to travel down again forwards the board in a curved arch.
If you’re going to land that dart exactly where you want it, you’ll need to take this curve into consideration and consider how it will affect the accuracy of your throw.
If you’re aiming for double 20, for example, then you might want to line up slightly higher, rather than lower, than that point on the board to account for the difference.
Throwing the Dart
Finally, there’s only one thing for it, it’s time to move that arm, release that dart, and send it soaring towards the board.
There’s a couple of important things to remember here:
Throw With the Elbow, Not The Shoulder
If you only take away one thing from our guide, let it be this:
Every part of your body, including the upper arm and shoulder, of your arm, should remain still and steady while your elbow and, to a lesser extent, your wrist, do all the work.
With everything straight and aligned, you want your elbow to cock back, bringing your hand towards your shoulder before extending your arm out straight.
Done correctly, this is what will put the power behind your throw.
Release Towards the End of Your Arm Extension
Like many things in darts, there’s no single right answer when it comes to finding a point of release that works best for you.
Over time, you’ll find a sweet spot that’s right for you.
In the meantime, the best advice we can give is to release the dart when your arm is almost but not entirely extended fully.
Release Rather Than Push
If you’ve done this well, you’ll be able to simply let go of the dart at the moment of impact and send your dart sailing towards the board.
There’s no need to try and push it further with your fingers, though you may find it helpful to fully extend.
Don’t Throw Too Hard
If anything, this may be the most important tip we can give you today.
Tempting though it may be to throw that dart at full speed, that’s not the way to go. Due to a little thing called physics, the faster you throw, the more your level of accuracy is reduced. The dart fails to fully achieve that all-important Parabolic curve and often misses the mark you were going for.
Ideally, you want enough power behind that dart to launch it all the way to the board while at the same time avoid putting all of your strength into it so that it doesn’t go wildly off course.
Final Thought: Find What Works and Stay Consistent
As you’ve likely realized by now, there isn’t one universally correct way to throw a dart with precision. For the most part, it’s about taking a few simple basics (good stance, good grip, and a good throwing technique) and adapting them to a way that is comfortable to you while still producing the results you want.
The best way to do this, of course, is simply practice.
Try out the difference between a 3 and 4-fingered grip. Try out the different ways to develop that solid, steady posture, and try out different throwing speeds. See which ones help you achieve the most precise throw and, above all else, stick with it.
When you’ve got a method that works, practice it over and over again, always using the same stance, the same grip, and the same throw. Consistency is key here. The more you do what works, the sooner you’ll be mastering those games like 501 and throwing your darts like the pros.
And if that’s still not working out for you? Check out our guide to the best electronic dartboards and practice on one of those first before moving to a more traditional board.