If you have watched professionals play darts, then I believe what you loved most about this sport was the simplicity of picking the darts and throwing them on the board. However, when it comes to the real issue of darts scoring, there’s a lot more about this sport than what meets the eye. First, you need to master how to position yourself when standing in front of the dartboard.
Secondly, you need to master how the mechanics behind dart gripping work if you want to make accurate throws. You also need to master the dartboard to know the value of each scoring section. Now, in official tournaments, the 01 games are more like the de facto with the 501 being the most popular. In the US, cricket is a major dart game that’s played alongside the 01 in major leagues.
So, by mastering the rules of each of these dart games, then scoring in darts will be quite easy for you. Whether you’re a complete novice, or you’re an intermediary looking to learn more on how to perfect your scoring, this guide is exactly what you need.
1. Step One: Understand the Dartboard and the Scoring System
a) Dartboard Measurements
So, for you to play and score darts, you need to follow a systematic step-by-step procedure. The first step is to master the dartboard in terms of the setup measurements and the numbering on the target area. You see, regardless of whether you’re practicing darts, playing for leisure, or playing in a tournament, having the proper setup of your dartboard will give you a sense of legitimacy when playing.
If you’re playing in a bar, pub, or any other social setting, the official measurements of hanging a steel tip/bristle dartboard are 5ft. 8-inches or 173 cm. This measurement includes the distance of the board from the floor to the center of the dartboard. The throw line/oche on the other hand is positioned 7ft. 9 ¼ inches or 237 cm from the face of the dartboard.
If you need to confirm this measurement, then you can take the diagonal measurement from the center of the dartboard to the oche, which should be 9ft. 7 ½ inches or 298.4 cm.
To those using soft tip/electronic dartboards, the measurement from the center of the board to the floor should be exactly 5ft. 8 inches or 173 cm. The distance from the face of the board to the throw line/oche should be exactly 8ft. or 244 cm. For confirmation, the diagonal distance from the face of the board to the oche should be 9ft. 9 ¾ inches or 299 cm.
b) The Scoring System
Away from the measurements, the next thing you need to master is the numbering and the scoring system. You see, practicing how to throw darts is one part of your dart scoring success. To make it 100%, you need to master the scoring system to know which areas of the dartboard award the most points.
If you happen to inspect any dartboard, you’ll realize that the face is numbered 1-20 in a non-sequential order. A special wiring system known as a spider is used to separate these numbered zones to mark the boundaries and make scoring easier.
You’ll also notice that the dartboard has three zones two of which are thin and one wide. The two thin zones represent the double (outer zone) and the treble (inner zone) and are usually red and green.
On the other hand, the remaining zone stretches from the bullseye to the outer zone (double zone) and is called the single area. So, if you’re playing darts and you happen to hit the outer thin zone, then you earn yourself double the figure on that segment. The same happens if you hit the inner thin zone. Here, you earn yourself triple the figure on that segment.
Lastly, there’s the bullseye which is the section at the center of the board. This section is further split into two zones that are the inner bull (red) and the outer bull (green). The outer bull, also known as the single bull has a score of 25 points while the inner bull or double bull has a score of 50 points.
2. Step Two: Master Dart Throwing Techniques
As I mentioned at the beginning, watching professional players throw darts can make you think that this game is too simple. But, when you get to the actual throwing, you’ll be amazed to discover that the trajectory of a dart is influenced by a combination of many complex mechanics.
These mechanics include proper body posture (the stance), dart grip, and dart release. So, in this step, we will discuss each section briefly to help you improve your chances of scoring.
a) Proper Stance
After mastering the dartboard and the scoring system, the next step is to work on your stance. Now, positioning yourself in front of the throw line is something most people overlook. Surprisingly, body positioning is one factor that contributes massively to how you stretch your dominant arm when releasing the dart.
So, for you to score consistently in darts, here are three major dart stances that are commonly used by professional darters.
- Tilted Stance:
This type of stance is very familiar and it’s commonly used by most professional dart players. It includes leaning forward just a bit with the dominant foot stepping forward and close to the oche. The other foot trails behind and should be tilted to the left to provide additional support.
In this type of stance, your body weight is distributed on both legs in the ratio of 60:40 where the dominant foot handles 60% of your body weight while the remaining 40% is handled by the other foot.
- Side Stance:
The side stance is becoming more prevalent in recent days as it minimizes unnecessary body movement when throwing your darts. This stance is quite similar to the tilted stance only that you must stand completely sideways to the dartboard.
While standing in that position, you’re supposed to twist your waist to face the dartboard. Although this stance will minimize body movement significantly, some players might struggle to maintain this stance for too long due to the twisting effect.
- Forward Stance:
Commonly known as the front-facing stance, this type of stance involves standing with both feet facing forward. This stance has fallen out of favor in recent times because it makes it harder for you to balance the body when throwing.
With both feet facing forward, players lack enough room to lean forward making it extremely hard for you to move the dominant arm. In the process, a player can easily lose balance and step forward leading to a penalty in case you cross the throw line.
b) Gripping and Aiming
Once you’ve worked on your stance, the next important step is to hold your dart or rather grip your dart to make an accurate throw. Although most people don’t give any thought to this, how you grip your dart can have a great influence on your throw.
Now, a dart doesn’t need to be held too tightly. On the other hand, it doesn’t need to be held too loosely. When holding a dart, you should grip the barrel and not the tip or the flight. In darts, there are usually four different ways you can grip the dart. There’s the two-finger, three-finger, four-finger, and five-finger grip.
c) Throwing the Dart
So, once you’ve perfected your stance and your grip, the last thing you need to work on is the actual throwing. Here, proper hand-eye coordination is key as this is what propels the dart towards the board. Although there are lots of tips and tricks, throwing the dart will require you to follow specific rules regardless of the type of stance or grip you’re using. So, here are some of these rules.
- Raise the Dominant Arm:
With your shoulders still, raise the dominant arm to have the dart at eye level. Your forearm should be straight and your elbow should be raised to point towards the dartboard. Make sure that your elbow, forearm, and your shoulder are aligned at an angle of 90°.
- Point the Tip of the Dart Slightly Upwards:
When learning how to score darts, one pro-tip you’ll learn from professional players is to tilt the tip of the dart upwards when throwing. You see, once a dart leaves your hand, it follows a parabolic curve as it goes to the dartboard. This trajectory is very important as it affects the angle at which the dart hits the board.
- Aim the Dart:
With the tip of the dart tilted slightly upwards, aim the dart using your dominant eye. Always make sure your dominant arm is perfectly aligned with your dominant eye. So, if you’re left-handed, your dominant eye should be the left one and vice versa.
- Release the Dart:
To release the dart, you need to first pull your hand backward then throw the dart. Snap your wrist forward once you release the dart to direct it more accurately towards the board. Follow through by allowing your arm to hover in the air for a moment with your fingers pointing towards the direction of the dart.
Although most beginners are unaware of this tip, following through is very important when throwing darts as it increases your chances of making an accurate throw.
3. Step Three: Learn the Different Dart Games
In the world of darts, there are many types of dart games you’re likely to come across. Some of these games are intended for beginners and novice players while others are specifically designed for professionals with lots of skills.
However, there are two types of games that are very popular and are mostly played in professional tournaments. These are the 01 (commonly played in the UK) and the Cricket (commonly played in Asia and the United States).
So, to improve your chances of scoring in darts, we’re going to discuss some rules and variations you’re required to follow when playing these two games.
a) The 01 Games Rules
The first game, which happens to be the most popular in most dart leagues and tournaments, is the 01. The reason why this game is called the “01” is simply that each player must start with a score that ends with 01.
In most situations, this game is played by two players who compete against each other. The objective of the game is for each player to reduce his/her points to zero. In most cases, the points at stake are either 301 or 501.
For you to score in the 01 games, there are a set of rules you must follow. First, each player must start by doubling in either by hitting the double bull or any of the double zones around the board. From there, you can try hitting the highest scoring zones such as the 19s, the 20s, the double, and the single bulls to reduce your points faster.
Once your points are reduced to zero, the last step is to double out for you to win the game.
b) Cricket Game Rules
The second type of dart game that’s commonly played in most pubs and selected leagues is cricket. This game is played by two players or teams and has specific numbers of play that include 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, inner and outer bulls.
The objective of this game is pretty simple. Each player is supposed to own or close certain numbers (15 to 20) and must achieve the highest scores to be declared the winner. Now, to start this game, players must throw darts by aiming at the bullseye. The player whose dart is closest to the bullseye starts the game.
With the game now open, each player must take turns in throwing the darts. Your main objective is to close a number by hitting it three times. You can do this by hitting the triple of that number, the double, and the single or three singles.
Once you own a number, it’s said that you’ve closed an ‘inning’. From there, you can now score the real value of that number (the runs) until your opponent closes that number. Once it’s closed, no more points can be awarded to that number.
For instance, let’s assume you’ve owned the number 18. This means the next throws will award you 18 points if you hit the single, 36 points if you hit the double, and 54 points if you hit the triple.
So, to win in cricket, a player must close all the innings first and must have the most points. In case of a tie, the player that closed all the innings first is declared the winner.
4. Step Four: Master How to Record the Scores
Now that you’re aware of how to play and score darts, the final step that is the last piece of your dart scoring jigsaw is learning how to record the scores. Now, there are two main ways you can consider when recording dart scores. One is by using a scoreboard and the other is by using white paper.
The scoreboard is one of the most popular forms of dart recording. It involves using a scoreboard attached to your dartboard cabinet. The actual recording is done using chalk and the person responsible for recording the points is called the Chalker.
Another medium that can be used to record points is a white paper. These sheets of paper are downloadable online and they usually come with a space where you can record the names of the players.
Both the scoreboard and the white paper perform the same task of recording points. However, these two mediums have one major difference. When using a scoreboard, the Chalker has to set up everything by drawing the columns and writing down the names of the players using chalk.
This is quite different from white paper which comes with ready printings making the recording process much easier.
So, there you have it. In case you’ve been struggling with darts or maybe you’ve been asking yourself how to score darts, then this guide has discussed everything you need to know. As you can see, the origin of this majestic sport dates back to the 1300s where English soldiers threw spears on empty wine barrels to sharpen their aiming skills.
But, as time passed, this practice routine developed into a fun sport which is the game of darts we play today. Although it’s not as popular as some of the mainstream sports we have today, the rate at which this sport is growing cannot be underestimated.
With so many people learning how to score in darts, we thought it wise to include a detailed guide that could offer insightful tips on how to improve your dart scoring skills. Each of these tips is discussed comprehensively to help you understand the different rules of darts in a more legitimate fashion.