How to Hold a Dart and Improve Your Throw: A Beginner’s Guide

Last updated: Oct 21, 2020

Will proper grip on dart improve your throw?

When you learn how to grip a dart properly, it can and will help you improve your throw. It’s a major step in improving as a darts player because darts are meant to be thrown a certain way in order to work the way they do. Dart throwing will vary from person to person – even among the professionals – but it’s important to remember that an individual’s throwing “style” is developed after learning the basics of proper use.

Developing your throwing and gripping style comes second to the right technique. There really is no right or wrong style to hold the dart when playing, but there are some things you should do if you want to improve your accuracy and precision before you throw. Your throwing style is definitely going to be unique to you, but the purpose of the game is still to throw accurately on the dartboard, and that should be reflected in your holding style, no matter what it is.

How to Hold a Dart and Improve Your Throw: A Beginner's Guide

Dart anatomy

One helpful thing to keep in mind before using your darts is knowing the dart itself. You should know the dart parts and what they’re made of in order to find the best type of dart for you.

Every part of the dart is important and plays an essential role in the flight and accuracy of the dart. To assemble your ideal dart, take a look at each of the parts’ functions as discussed below:

The tip: This part of the dart is what goes into the board once it lands. Also called the dart point by some, it can be fixed or movable depending on the type of dart you buy. Each has their advantages, like the movable tip won’t likely bounce back when hit by dartboard spiders while the fixed tip will land more soundly without shaking. Depending on the type of dartboard, you’ll need a “soft” tip (made from plastic) or a steel tip. Plastic tips are relatively inexpensive, but steel tips are less prone to snapping and can be reused.

The barrel: The barrel can vary in weight and materials that affect the dart’s flight path and steadiness. This is the part of the dart you hold, and how thin or wide it is can change how comfortable it is for you to hold.

Barrels are made of either brass, a nickel/silver alloy, or tungsten. Plastic and wood are cheaper, but not recommended by dart players as they are less reliable in quality and weight.

Brass barrels are relatively light and tend to be wider, making them easier for beginner hands to hold. They’re durable, offer a perfect parabolic line of motion and are more affordable than other metal barrel darts. Brass is more susceptible to corrosion, however, and should be maintained properly to preserve their longevity.

Nickel-silver barrels are pricier but are more resistant to corroding. They’re lighter, more durable and are a great choice if you’re looking for a beginner or intermediate dart on a higher budget.

Tungsten is by far the most popular material for barrels, especially among intermediate and professional dart throwers. Because of their heavier state, tungsten barrels are fashioned thinner to provide the weight balance as well as make it easier to land closer to other darts on the board for those extra precise shots.

The shaft: Also known as the “stem”, this is the other balancing end of the dart. How long the shaft is affects the dart’s stability in flight. They’re often made from either plastic or aluminum (or both), but in this case, you want to look more at the length of the shaft for your preference.

Plastic shafts are easier to break but are cheaper, lighter and more easily replaceable, while aluminum is more durable and reparable for repeated use. Composite shafts benefit from both worlds, being not too heavy and not too flimsy at the same time.

Short and even extra-short shafts are wider and hollow at the same time, making them lighter overall. Using smaller flights with these shafts is a must, as larger ones won’t fit right or will affect the dart’s midair path.

Medium length shafts are the most common type of shaft, recommended as a simple starting point for beginners.

Longer shafts are made with crowding in mind, though you should be more careful with how you throw long-shafted drafts because they potentially throw off the dart’s stability and ruin your accuracy.

The flight: The fin-like flight on the back of the dart is the main stabilizing component that keeps your dart on the right path till it lands. The size of the flight determines the amount of air resistance, higher amounts of which can assist a beginning player in practicing their accuracy.

The material and shape can play their part as well. Textured materials like Dimplex add that extra air resistance, while spiraled flights make for a more direct spinning shot. Flights are often made from plastic, soft or hard, or nylon.

You should look for smaller flights if you have a bit of experience and want to make more direct and accurate shots. They allow for less air resistance and a sharper shot.

How to hold a dart

How to Hold a Dart and Improve Your Throw: A Beginner's Guide

As mentioned before, properly gripping a dart prepares you for a better shot. Be sure to practice, and you’ll get the hang of better throwing in no time.

Identify your dart’s center of gravity. Rest the dart in the palm of your hand before giving it a throw, so you can get a good idea of how much force should be put into a throw with that particular dart. It doesn’t hurt to do this, especially if you’re trying out a new and different dart that varies in weight.

Hold the dart by the barrel. Using at least three of your fingers, hold the barrel of the dart. Using more fingers allows for better control. It’s recommended to use your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger for grip. For longer darts, you can even add the ring finger in there and grip the end of the barrel with it. The tip of the dart should be pointed slightly upward; never hold it pointing down as that’ll ruin your shot. Pointing the dart upward is simple and makes sure your dart gets the right amount of air to reach the distance of the board.

Keep your grip relaxed. When holding the dart, make sure your hand isn’t tense. This means releasing any pressure from your fingers and muscles that would otherwise make the dart more difficult to release. It’s all about being relaxed and comfortable in the setting, so you can better focus on making the shot, rather than worry about it going wrong.

Spread your fingers comfortably. Avoid holding your dart with a fist. This plays into the first two tips, both being comfortable before you throw and using the right number of fingers. Fingers that are not in use (also known as free fingers), especially the pinky finger, should be spread out and out of the way. Keep an eye on the free fingers so they don’t touch the dart as you throw, or else you risk ruining the shot – darts are very light, and even the slightest mistouch can throw them off track.

Learn to aim

There’s more technique to aiming a dart than simply pointing it at where you want it to land and throwing it in the said direction. Along with gripping the dart properly, you need to take certain measures to further make sure that your dart lands where you want it to.

Begin with your proper gripping technique. If you’ve practiced your proper gripping technique, this bit should be no issue. Aiming darts needs plenty of hand-eye coordination and doing things as simple as using your dominant eye and hand will make a world of difference. Be sure to stay relaxed – if you feel uncomfortable in your hand or your stance, you’re likely doing it wrong.

Use your line of sight. The line of sight is where your dart lines up between your target on the board and your eye. This step is helpful for lining up consistent shots. Hold and raise your dart to the eye level, dart tip pointed slightly upward but still pointed toward the dartboard. Your shoulder should be still, and your elbow bent no wider than 90 degrees. The pinkie finger of the throwing hand can be used as a guide to line the dart up properly. Hold your eye on the target. if you don’t fixate your gaze and point the rest of the body in that direction, chances are higher that you won’t hit it.

Position your arm and hand. Your elbow should be slightly raised, pointing at the dartboard directly. The elbow will lead the throw as it’s the first pivot point to move.

Concentrate and throw. Throughout the entire throw, make sure to fixate your gaze on your target the whole time.  Don’t be afraid to adjust your position to get the most out of your stance – there’s no rush to get the dart on the board if you don’t land it in the right place. Don’t aim anywhere else but your target, either. Even if you miss the first shot, aim for the same place you were initially going for.

Conclusion

Throwing darts like a pro takes technique, practice, and patience. Learning how to grip a dart is just the first step in getting there. If you want to become a better dart-thrower, follow these tips to practice improved control over where your darts land. Remember, just learning how to grip and aim your dart is not a substitute for practice. The best way to get better is to actually throw darts yourself.

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