Last Updated on March 2, 2020 by Jake
Apart from being a popular game at pubs and bars, darts is a prestigious game that has specific guidelines and rules. In order to have fun playing alone or with friends, there are a few guidelines on how to play darts that you should know.
In order to become better at playing darts, you should understand more about the dart board, how to set it up, what is the proper dartboard height, and the right technique to throw darts. In this article, you’ll find all the information you’ll need so you can have more fun while playing darts.
How to Play Darts – The Basics
You play the game by throwing a small dart onto the board. All boards are designed the same, and each one is divided into different sections.
The board is sliced and numbered in non-sequential order. Your score is the number written on the section if you hit the black or yellow area.
If your dart hits the outer ring, your score is double the points specified by the section. If your dart hits the inner ring, you will get triple the points. As you play, you’ll keep on recording your score and the winner is the one with the highest points.
Experienced and talented players will try to hit the center of the board or the bullseye. Again, this one is divided into an outer and inner section. If you hit the green outer section, you get 25 points, and if you hit the red inner section, you get 50 points.
Professionals will typically aim for the inner circle in the 20 point section, or the triple 20. This is because it’s the highest scoring area on the dart board, earning the player who hits it a cool 60 points.
Players practice so they can control their movement and hit as close to their target as often as possible. Proper technique includes a strong, athletic stance with no shoulder movement. The dart can be thrown with a simple movement of the elbow and flick of the wrist.
History of Darts
No one has a truly accurate historical record of how the game started, but there’s proof that it was played as early as medieval times. But, around 100 years ago, the game became very widespread in England and has become a popular game in pubs all over the UK and now the world.
Some historians state that the game developed as bored archers were trying to have some fun. They would use an ale barrel, remove the bottom, and try to aim for the center. Later on, a sliced log was used as an aiming board. The markings on the log that show the age of the tree also served as score markings.
Soldiers then took their game to taverns and entertainment spots where they would drink and brag about their archery skills. By the time of Henry VII, the game became quite popular among the upper class and the king’s entourage. He himself is said to have played the game and enjoyed it a lot.
What is a Dart Board Made Of?
Older dart boards weren’t standardized. Soon players decided that they needed to design a standard board that they can easily use to calculate the scoring points. Most modern dartboards are made of sisal fibers, although you can find other models made of cork, paper, wood or plastic. The standard board has a diameter of 18 inches.
Cork is common in low-quality products. It’s budget friendly and suitable for amateurs and kids. Nevertheless, it will never hold up to the needs of hardcore and professional players as it wears out quickly.
Some manufacturers make boards of wound paper. This is another inexpensive material and is probably more durable than cork. However, it’s not sturdy enough to withstand repeated use so you’ll have to replace your board often.
Sisal fibers are extracted from the Agave plant and are used to make high-quality dartboards because they’re stiff and will hold the dart upon impact. Boards aren’t that expensive and will probably last for a long time. This is why it’s a professionals’ favorite.
Recently, electronic dart boards were introduced to the game. These are made of plastic and come pre-programmed so a single board can be used to play various darts games. These boards are quite expensive compared to the ones made of fibers and are used with soft-tipped darts.
How to Play Darts – Set Up
You can bring the fun of the pub to any location as long as you have a sturdy dartboard and high-quality darts. The place should be well-lit and there should be enough space for the players to aim and move away from the audience to avoid injuries.
It’s very important to pick an open place where there are no obstacles that can obstruct viewing or playing. The audience and other players should be seated behind the player playing the game and away from the direction of the board.
Darts will fall off and hit the floor. Over time, this can damage your flooring and make the darts dull. If possible, install a dart mat that will protect the surface and the darts. If the floor isn’t level, you can place a cardboard sheet under the mat to make sure that the players are able to hit the board.
The board should be placed away from doors, windows, and high-traffic areas even if the place is crowded. The best spot is an unused wall that nobody usually comes across. Remove all fragile and expensive objects if you’re practicing the game at home.
Using a protective layer over the walls is a must, especially if the players aren’t that experienced. In this case, the darts might not always hit the board, and they might ruin your expensive wall paint. Installing a cabinet or protective layer doesn’t cost much and can save you a lot of unnecessary hassle.
Dartboard Height – How High Should a Dartboard Be?
The dart board height should be 68 inches. The height is measured from the bullseye or the center of the board to the floor.
The throwing distance should be 93.25 inches from the throwing line or oche to the front of the board and 115.35 inches from the center of the bull to the line. For ladies, the throwing distance is usually the same, although dart leagues in the UK set up boards at a shorter distance of 84 inches for lady players.
There’s an approved guideline for setting up the dart board for wheelchair players. The height is set to 4 feet 6 inches with a distance set to 7 feet and 9 inches and a quarter of an inch between the oche and the bullseye.
To mount the board, you should flush it to the wall, and not hang it like a picture to make sure that the board is level. The scoreboard should be hanged to the right or left of the board for easy access so players can record their scores easily.
How Far Should You Stand to Throw Darts?
After setting up the board at the right distance, players should get ready for throwing. Leaning forward or backward will affect your stability and throwing ability.
You should stand behind the throwing line or oche with one foot in front of the other. Right-handed players should keep their front foot at the front, with most of their weight resting on the right foot. The opposite applies to left-handed players. A player should stand steady and avoid moving the feet off the ground as this can affect their ability to throw the dart accurately.
When holding the dart, you should hold it the way it feels comfortable so you can control it properly. Hold the dart in your finger until you find the center of gravity and place your thumb behind it. The other fingers should hold the dart.
As you hold the dart, try to keep the tip up. Move it a little bit to the front and back so you can aim for the center of the board. Don’t try to throw the dart too hard as this might direct it away from the center.
To determine the throw line, you can use tape or a marker so players know where to stand. A throw will not be counted if the player crosses the line after or during the throw.
Common Darts Games
There are several games you can play using darts after you learn the basics of how to play darts. Some of them are quite simple while others require more skills and are only played by more experienced players.
This one is the most common game and is easily played by beginners as well as intermediate-level players. Each player starts with a score that ends with 01. It can be 301, 501, or even 1001 if there is a big number of players involved in the game. The purpose of the game is to reduce the score to zero.
- The players stand behind the oche and throw the darts at the same time. The person whose dart hits closer to the bullseye is the one who goes first.
- Each player throws three darts and the scores are subtracted from the total.
- As the scores decrease, players should be careful about the areas they hit using the darts. They must reach the number zero. The last hit’s score is doubled.
Normally two players can play this game, but sometimes two teams of multiple players can play it too.
Cricket is another popular version. Two players or teams play at the same time. The purpose of the game is to close out the numbers 15 through 20 by hitting a triple of them or double of one and a single of another. The winner closes all the numbers and has the highest score.
- Players toss a coin to see who starts the game.
- A player must score three of a single number to close it or own it. After that, the other player can’t get any points by hitting this number.
- The players can also close the bullseye with the outer ring counting as single and the inner one counting as double.
- A player can decide to close or own the numbers in any order.
Winning the game doesn’t depend on who finishes first, but who scores the most points. However, if there’s a tie, the winner is the one who closed numbers first.
Tips For How to Play Darts
In addition to mounting the board properly, a player should have a good throwing stance. Here are some tips that can help you become better at throwing darts.
- Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. This position will keep you stable and allow you to aim accurately.
- The dominant foot shouldn’t face the oche. It should face sideways as your body will be more stable and your shot will be more precise.
- Make sure that your body is always facing the side rather than the front of the line every time you face the board.
- Keep your shoulders straight and parallel to the ground. Not only will this give you the adequate aiming posture, but it will also allow you to focus on the shot. Leaning forward or backward will mess up with your balance and affect your throw.
- Hold the middle part of the dart or the barrel so you can have more control. Holding it away from the center will jeopardize the direction and strength of the throw.
- Don’t hold the dart too tightly. Your grip should be more loose than firm so you can aim comfortably.
- Raise the dart to eye level and keep it parallel to the ground.
- Align the tip of the dart with the center of the target so you can aim accurately.
- You can use the dominant eye to aim. Opening the dominant eye and closing the other one will improve your chances as you try to hit the target.
- Release the wrist quickly. This is called the wrist snap and can increase the speed of the dart.
You can become a better player by practicing every day at how to play darts. Try to aim for the same target a few times in a row. Practicing for 30 minutes is enough to improve your accuracy.
Playing games with a group of friends who are better than you will teach you more about the rules of the game. Hit the local pub to have some fun, and you’ll also be able to see how more experienced players play the darts using different styles and techniques. Watching good players is one of the best ways to learn how to play darts.
How to Play Darts – Wrap Up
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post on how to play darts! If you are in the market for a dart board check out our post on best dart boards. Also, if you need any ideas for your game room, check out our ultimate post on game room ideas!