To get good at anything in this life, we need to practice it. This much we know. But how helpful is that?
Not much, to be honest.
I have been playing darts and other sports for quite some time now. I know what to expect and what to do, but anyone new is going to want something more real, a number, an average. Just anything besides the standard “Well, you know, practice.”
How Many Hours a Day Should I Practice Darts? You should practice between 1 to 3 hours a day. The total amount of hours you should practice will vary depending on your goals, free time, and overall ability to concentrate. However, do not practice for multiple hours without a single break. Break your practice sessions into multiple 15 to 20-minute chunks.
However, you and I both know this is not going to be that simple. Below I tackle the topic from a few different sides in order to better paint the whole picture.
There are some caveats, and they are well worth your while.
Table of Contents:
How many hours a day should you practice darts?
Practice is the name of the game.
You cannot get good without practicing, regardless of how much talent you may have.
Of course, the standard answer is: “Practice as often as you can for as long as you can.”
But you need to tackle this problem in a smart way. Start practicing 10 hours every day, and it will not be too long before you get burned out.
When you set out to become good at something, well, sometimes this is like going to the gym or working (depending on which example will motivate you more).
Start working out too much, and you will get burned out and overtrain. Start working too much, and you may end up needing a few extra days off.
So this is my first advice practice, but do not overdo it.
You should practice darts every day for at least an hour and not more than 3 – 4 hours. Even if you don’t have enough time, try to squeeze in one or two games.
If you can afford the time to play more than that, then that’s great, but be careful.
Maybe the pros can afford to play darts 8 hours straight each day. But even they can burn out eventually.
You should not have more than 2 consecutive days where you don’t practice. But try to have between 1 to 2 days each week where you do not play any darts.
Even if you are super motivated, be strict, and give yourself the time to relax.
Also, keep in mind that the different people need a different amount of time to warm up. Usually, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes for most players to warm up. For others, it may even longer.
For example, Eric Bristow’s warm-up before tournaments used to last between 4 to 5 hours. Of course, this is an extreme example, but the idea is the same; if you need 30 minutes to warm up, then try to add in this extra half an hour.
Overall I feel like the majority of darts players will be most happy with practicing between 30 to 90 minutes a day.
How many darts a day should you throw?
An interesting question I was asked not long ago. However, I feel like this is a little too detailed as there is no magical number of darts one needs to throw to get better.
The number of darts is important to keep averages and ratings, but you should think of it in terms of how much quality time you can invest in practicing darts. Throw as many darts as you need to during your practice sessions and make sure you are maintaining proper focus in order to achieve quality practicing time.
And especially if you are new, please, don’t get too hung up on these numbers and averages just yet.
How many hours a week should you practice?
You should aim to have at least 7 to 15 hours of dedicated, focused, and high-quality darts practice a week. For casual dart players, 5 to 10 hours a week is going to be more than enough. However, for more dedicated dart players that aim to play professionally 10 to 20 hours a week and above may be needed depending on different factors.
Of course, here I am, talking about high-quality, highly-focused, and dedicated hours of practice. If you are cooking a meal, cleaning, watching TV, and just playing darts in between, this will not count as a high-quality practice session.
Don’t get me wrong sometimes even a little, even if not perfect, practice is better than no practice at all.
What is the best way to practice darts?
Unfortunately (or fortunately), practicing darts is not just about mindlessly throwing darts at a board for several hours a day and hoping for the best.
There are some strategies to that, and below I would like to talk about that.
Quality over quantity
Not every practice session is going to be the same. You need quality and productive practice.
Let’s use the gym analogy again. Imagine two people. One is spending 30 minutes in the gym doing intense exercises and focusing on working out with a minimal amount of breaks. The other person spends 120 minutes in the gym but plays with his phone, talks to other people, spends time in the lockers drinking coffee, spends time talking to a friend over the phone. Who will progress the most?
The same goes for darts. You need to put in quality time. You need to be focused, aware, and be able to isolate yourself from the outside distractions.
Pay attention to your mind. If you feel like your mind starts to wander after every 60 minutes, then you should build your practicing routine around that. If you try to play despite your mind wandering around (meaning less focus), you are highly likely to reinforce bad throwing techniques.
Frequency over Quantity
If you keep a weekly schedule, that’s great, but don’t try to just put in the hours anyway possible.
You need frequency. Meaning you need to practice each day consistently.
If one person practices darts every Sunday for 6 hours and then has a six-day break, this is not going to result in a good ROI, so to speak.
However, compare that to somebody who does 1 hour of practice each day Monday to Saturday and relaxes on Sunday. This person will have better results in the long run.
Your body adapts to new stimuli. Presenting that stimuli each day will have the body “realize” it has to adapt to this new challenge.
Work on Intensity
If you want to really improve, you need to play as if you are playing against a real darts player.
A lot of darts players overlook that aspect of the practice, and as a result, their game is weak, and they easily break down mentally when they have to play with a decent (not good, mind you!) opponent.
For more information, check out my article about how to relax when playing darts, where I share helpful tips and tricks about calming one’s mind.
The good thing is that even if you feel a little stressed, that’s okay. You are not in a real game of darts, have a break, eat something, or do something for 10-15 minutes and get back to the dartboard again.
Also, consider how darts is played in leagues or tournaments. You throw for a while, then take a short break, you throw for a while, and then take another break. Rinse and repeat. Try to simulate the same thing.
I recommend limiting your training sessions to playing for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You are free to have multiple sessions 5, 7, 10 sessions. But make sure to incorporate short breaks between each practicing session. Go do something that will take your mind off of darts.
Alone vs. Friends
Frequently darts players think that they lack experience in playing with real-life opponents. However, that rarely is the case.
I am sure by this point you are tired of the fitness analogies, but there is more.
Practicing alone forces you to compete and compare with yourself. This will actively result in improving your averages, consistency, double outs, and more. And frankly, this is what you want.
If you play with a friend that does not aspire to be a good darts player, you will compare against him, and you will never have or even experience the need to become better. As a result, you will stay at the same level, even without realizing it.
The other aspect of this practice is that you will be able to focus better. It is like meditating. Do people meditate in loud places or while talking to the other people in the room? No, they don’t.
Split the different sessions
Say you can practice darts for one hour each day. That’s great. But nobody said you have to do it in one session.
In fact, splitting that into two 30 minutes or four 15 minute sessions can be even better.
Andre Welge used to get up 20 minutes earlier each morning to fit in a quick game of darts.
Know when to have a break
If you have a bad game, for some reason, and the darts are just not going where you want them to, then have a break. It can be for 10 minutes, it can be for one hour, or it can be for the whole day.
Understand that there will be productive days, and there will be less productive days.
Somedays, you will pick the darts, and they will just not go the right way.
If you feel it is just a bad day for darts, do not practice. That way, you will keep your motivation in place.
If you try to push through it, the odds are your motivation will drop. It is better to stop and have a pause to relax.
Even pro darts players are known to do that. So if you do not enjoy the game or you are not having fun, then just skip the practice.
Run a Scorebook
Keep track of your scores and achievements. Many players overlook or underestimate the power of such a simple thing.
Keeping track of your progress, you will be able to easily see how far you have gone. You will be able to see how many hours and days you have been practicing.
Let’s say that you practice 30 minutes every single day. But today you are feeling a little under the weather; maybe you caught a cold or something. You are tired and not really motivated to practice darts.
Then you take a look at your notebook and see that you have been training every single day for the past three months. Are you going to feel good breaking that 90-day streak? And is 30 minutes going to be too much for you? I am sure that even if you didn’t feel like practicing, you would do it and feel satisfied, making that 91-day mark.
Have rest days
You need to practice in order to become good at darts. That goes without saying. But so is having time to rest.
Give both your mind and your hand a little time to rest. Make sure to have 1 or 2 days every week where you do not practice darts.
All the muscles in your hand, arm, shoulders, and back need to rest. You cannot expect them to perform 100% all the time if you overuse them.
It is not a rare thing for darts players that overdo it to have their shoulder muscles spasm or just feel an overall weakness.
The same thing goes for your mind and motivation. Many darts players will find that with time their averages will start to go down, and after a short (and sometimes not so short) break, their average will shoot straight up.
Work on making your hands steadier
Some supplementary exercises may be needed to fine-tune your throwing technique. One of the common problems that some darts players may suffer from, but not really thought about is shaky hands.
Depending on the intensity of your hand’s tremors, things can get very messy.
Straight up gym training will not necessarily hurt your performance, although some darts players do think it could be detrimental. You don’t really need forearms and biceps the size of a bodybuilder, but developing some strength will not hurt.
With that being said, you need to start stretching your arms (or at least your throwing arm). This is even more needed for people that hit the gym frequently as they may have a reduced range of movement.
Incorporate some simple stretches that you do daily for your median, ulnar, and radial nerves.
Whether or not more muscles are going to help your throws is hard to say. However, what you need is to build stamina in performing precise, repetitive movements. And this is not necessarily achieved by lifting weights.
How many hours a day do the pros practice?
Michael van Gerwen, I am sure anybody knows this name, stated that he likes to practice between 2 to 3 hours a day. But he finds it difficult due to his rough schedule.
Phil Taylor says he practices between half an hour up to three hours a day. Conversely, he has been known to practice up to 11 hours a day. This variety in the amounts of hours he practices is because he most likely follows a routine. Sometimes he will be able to go through it faster and others slower. The time can also vary because of his focus levels, any need to correct any problems or techniques, and more.
Michael Smith has said during an interview that he practices between 5 to 6 hours a day.
James Wade mentioned in one interview that he always practices 2 hours a day.
What are the signs you are practicing darts too much?
Keep track of your averages. One of the dead giveaways of practicing too much is when your averages start to go noticeably down.
Granted, there are always good and bad days, and there will be fluctuations, but if it happens, you will know what I mean.
If that happens to you often, just keep track of your practice sessions and try to find the pattern.
For example, if you notice your averages starting to go down significantly after playing for 2 hours every day for 4 days. And that pattern repeats itself often, then try to mix things up a bit. Try practicing three days in a row and rest every fourth day. Or try practicing 1.5 hours every day and wait for the drop in performance. Maybe it will happen on the 5th day. So you take a break each fifth day. And so on.
And on another point, keep track of your breaks and training session length. Maybe you are playing without a break for 2 hours straight. Try splitting these 2 hours time into multiple 15 to 20 min training sessions. Experiment with different training sessions splits, different break time, etc.
Every person is unique, and experimenting is recommended.
Your hand, arm, shoulders, or back feel tired, lack strength, or the muscles spasm frequently. If your muscles just feel weak, you may be overdoing it.
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is easy to sustain, and it happens more often than many would imagine.
Some people can easily inflame the connective tissues in the elbow area and get tendonitis.
Something that I have noticed with time is that frequently the pros in different sports are just having fun doing what they do.
Some of the top players in the world sometimes enjoy doing off-the-wall strategies just so that they can make the game more fun for themselves.
If you are not able to find the necessary motivation and feel tired of darts, you may be practicing too much.
Just listen to your body and gut. If you don’t feel like playing, don’t have a break and rest. This will give your mind some time. Maybe it needs to settle some things that have been nagging you or something you have neglected in your daily life.
Do you need to practice 10,000 hours to become good at darts?
I am sure many of you have heard of the Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule.
If you haven’t here’s the low down:
“It takes 10,000 hours of practice to make you an expert of anything.”
“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell
Naturally, you may have felt a little nervous, “Do I really have to put in 10,000 hours into practicing darts?” you may ask me.
That’s like a full-time job for more than 5 years, right?
Well, I have both good and bad news for you.
First, you do not need to put in 10,000 hours into practicing darts to become good. You can do that with way less and be way more than just “good” at darts.
The 10,000 rule has been derived by taking data from the elite athletes and performers in different categories. This is a rough average, some of these top world-class performers had more hours others less. And this is a number that is associated with starting from zero and becoming one of the best in the whole world at something.
So here is the bad news. If you want to be ranking among the world’s top 5 or 10 darts players (again, let me repeat, in the world!), then you may have to put in several thousands of hours into practicing and overall playing darts. Do they need to be 10,000 is hard to say.
So the point being is, do not focus on these big numbers, just start and see where the journey will take you!
If you have a little more time, check out this cool TedTalk video about how even 20 hours of practice can be enough to make you way better at something.