If you want to improve your darts, there is nothing better than learning straight from the source or, in other words, from the pros.
Surely if they have raised so much through the ranks, they must know a thing or two about how to play darts and have some valuable insights that they can share with us, right?
Well, they do.
This is why I have compiled this somewhat humble list of the best dart tips from the pros that everyone can use regardless of their skill level.
These dart tips are great for both beginners and advanced dart players. Regardless of your experience with darts, I am sure you will find something interesting in the article below.
Table of Contents:
Tip #1: Practice
There is no way around this—no shortcuts—to get good at darts, you have to practice. Make sure to put in as much time as you can into good and focused practice.
You want to be able to practice as much as possible. But you also have to find the right balance.
For example, some of the pros practice between two, three, and four hours a day. Before a big tournament, they can go up to eight or ten hours a day of high-quality concentrated practice.
- Michael van Gerwen tries to put in about two and a half hours of concentrated practice each day.
- John Henderson, a great Scottish player, has said that he practices every day for about 3 hours on average.
- Bob Anderson tries to practice for at least 4 hours a day and even more up to 8 before a tournament.
- Phil Taylor used to practice up to 11 hours in the early days of his career.
Not everybody can endure so many hours of training, but then again, not everybody can be a world-class darts player. When you walk on that stage, it is best to know that you have done all you can and practiced as much as you could rather than thinking that you could have done better with your practicing sessions.
You need to find the right balance, however, as practicing too much too often can lead to burning out and even injuries.
On the other hand, before an important match, the different pro players practice differently. Some practice just a little while others may need more time to get warmed up. But you also don’t want to leave your good darts in the practice room, so to speak.
In other words, you have to find what works best for you. I get into more detail about that in my article “How many hours a day should I practice darts?“
Tip #2: Have a Plan
All the hours of practice will do you no good if they are not put towards a clear, well-defined goal, or if you do not follow a practice routine and plan.
You have to have a plan.
When you have been playing for a while, you start to notice where your weak points are. Is it the trebles, the doubles, or specific numbers?
Everyone will be different.
You have to make sure you practice and brush up on these weak areas you might have.
Tip #3: Combination Shots and Doubling Out
Another pro tip is to practice the finishing. Something that you will hear from all pro darts players is that you have to practice the doubles.
Doubles win or lose matches.
The same thing can be applied to the trebles—especially the treble 20. Most players grow up with the treble 20, so frequently, this is not the problem.
Every pro darts player will tell you that you need to practice your finishing.
This also involves combination shots. You don’t want to get yourself in a bad spot on your potentially last turn.
In other words, in case you miss your doubles with your first two darts, you don’t want to get down to an uneven number, which means you cannot double out with your last dart.
Some of the best finishes are 40, 32, and 24.
Tip #4: Learn Counting
Counting is one of these aspects of darts that even the pros can still be learning even after years of playing professionally.
For example, if you hit something that you are not expecting to hit, this can cause you to stop for a moment in order to consider your options.
This breaks your rhythm and flow.
And this is the last thing you want to be happening while you are playing.
I admit, even though I am quite good at maths, I struggled to do the right calculations in my head quickly enough. (This is why I had placed a lot of importance on crunching these numbers in my head very quickly and always staying a few turns ahead.)
But if you know where you are going, this makes your game a lot more fluid and consistent as you are not breaking your focus.
Tip #5: Use Darts Practice Games
Don’t just play on your dartboard random dart games—rather focus on playing darts practice games that have been designed to help you improve on your weak areas.
There are many different games that you can play, and you have to keep an open mind about all of this. You can use your creativity to make a game that is designed for your particular needs—that punishes or rewards hitting certain areas, which may be problematic for you.
A dartboard is not very big, and you should be able to hit with good accuracy and, most importantly, consistency, every segment of it. This is why some of the pros prefer to practice by playing around the board on doubles.
There are some really cool tips from pro dart player Raymond van Barneveld. He has developed a nifty little darts practice game.
He throws three darts per turn and has one turn per each number starting from 20 down to 15, including the bull. He tries to hit the triples and the double bull. He then rewards himself points depending on the section the dart lands.
- A single area is worth one point.
- The doubles are two points.
- And the trebles three points.
This means that if he hits treble 20 three times, he earns 9 points. The maximum score one can achieve is 60 points. (54 points from the numbers and additional 6 points from the three double bulls)
This game can also be played with all numbers from 20 down to 1.
Tip #6: Perfect Your Throwing Stance and Technique
The only thing that moves while you are throwing a dart should be your forearm.
You have to keep the rest of your body solid.
With that being said, try to take the best from the pros but always give yourself some leeway to experiment. Don’t follow blindly the stance and throwing technique of other darts players—instead, find your own natural flow.
Some darts players will bring the dart close right in front of their eyes (like Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor). And upon closer inspection, you will see that they may use the flights as a gun sight. Other players like Andrew Lewis bring the dart over their shoulders to the side. It is all very individual.
You want to feel comfortable, keep the dart hand close to your body. Don’t lean more than you need to—you want to maintain a balanced and solid stance.
The same applies to the grip. Your grip should be firm but not too strong, as this can affect your fluidity and throwing.
Another great tip is to keep things simple. This is especially true when it comes to your throwing grip.
The most simple grip is the three-fingered grip and release which many pro darts players use. The more simple a thing is, the less the things that can go wrong with it.
In addition to that, just because you have been using one dart grip does not mean it cannot change with time. Many darts players’ grips have been evolving over the years.
Tip #7: Don’t Have Favorite Numbers
A great tip from Michael van Gerwen is to not have any preferences when it comes to the numbers on the dartboard. The same can be said about any areas of the dartboard whatsoever.
If you let yourself have a favorite area or a number, this is a weakness that will affect how you perceive and play the dartboard. The dartboard is a means to an end. There should be no emotions involved when you play and practice on it.
Tip #8: Get Good Comfortable Footwear
The footwear you have may play a more important role in your performance than you might imagine. Different footwear may affect your height ever so slightly. This may be just enough for something to not feel right.
On the other hand, if you will be playing at the local league or in a tournament, you will be spending long hours on foot. You definitely want to be wearing comfortable shoes.
You want to be comfortable, not distracted by anything, and always deliver your darts from the same height—no wonder why Phil Taylor once ordered eight pairs of the same shoes.
Tip #9: Be Patient
An advice as simple as they come but one well worth mentioning.
Be patient. It takes time to get really good at darts and develop those consistent throws.
It also takes patience because not all days will be good days. Sometimes you will feel a little too much under the weather, and this can affect your game. However, let the bygones be bygones.
Tip #10: Experiment
Don’t be afraid to try out different and new techniques, positions, or practicing principles.
You may never really find what really works for you if you stick with just one technique or way of practicing. Keep an open mind though some things will work while others won’t.
And the longer you keep playing, the higher the chance that your technique and style will evolve and change over time.
Tip #11: Stay Positive
It is a fact of life—some days are great, your pacing is incredible; you hit all the targets. But not all days are like that.
The thing is—especially the more experienced you become—everyone has bad days, and you need to learn how to cope with them.
If you dwell on these negative thoughts, it can get to your head. And we have seen even the best pro darts players get affected by things like dartitis. (Eric Bristow is one of the first examples that comes to mind.) And dealing with dartitis is harder than it may seem.
A lot of people may have trouble keeping their nose to the grindstone without losing motivation, but it is necessary.
Focus on the work that needs to be done and practice, don’t attach too many emotions to how your performance is each day.
While perfectionism can help you when used right, it can also cause you a lot of problems.
Tip #12: Be Perfectionist
This is one of the three big P’s John Lowe frequently talks about. (The other two being practice and patience.)
One of the things that makes great darts players legendary is perfectionism.
Phil Taylor is a by-the-books example of that as he has always been obsessed with being the best, and his attention to the small detail is well-known.
In one of his interviews, he talks about how he always stays motivated. If he wins the world championship 15 times, he wants to win it 16, and when he does that, then he wants to do it 17 times, and so on.
Eric Bristow is well-known for his attitude. What you may find interesting is his mindset when he plays darts. He has said that in his mind, only the first place matters because nobody remembers the runners-up, only the winner.
He is well known for his no holds barred attitude, which was also part of the reason why he was so great. After all, he had to walk the walk.
Tip #13: Don’t Worry About Training Partners
Another question that may arise is, do you need a training partner?
A training partner is not necessary to get better at darts. Today we can buy our own dartboard and darts and practice for as much as we want on our own without a training partner. A training partner can be helpful if they are around the same skill level as you are.
If you are a relatively new player and start training with a pro player that is averaging 80 or 100 points, this will do more harm than good. It is true some players will get motivated by playing against a marginally better player than themselves. Still, for the majority of people, that would not help as it can be very disheartening.
The good thing about darts is that you don’t need to play against another player to get really good at it. A better throwing consistency, always hitting those doubles and triples, and averaging higher points, is more than enough.
Of course, playing professionally introduces other aspects of the game. Not all people handle the stress and emotions during a high-level pro tournament easily. And this is when you see that even some pros can break down.
But with today’s technology, things have changed drastically.
If you are one of the people that get motivated by playing against other players, then you can do that even online. It is possible to play with darts players all across the globe on both steel tip dartboards and soft tip dartboards.
Tip #14: Stay Confident
With darts, there is never a 100% guarantee that a certain number will be hit. As rare as they can be, bounce-outs do happen, sometimes darts get in the way, or just the nature of the games introduces this uncertainty aspect.
This is where things get a little psychological.
All the practice in the world and the best and most expensive gear will do you no good if you cannot remain calm, collected, and confident in your ability to hit a number.
In one interview, Eric Bristow said that deep inside, he was always confident that he is the best darts player, even if that day he lost.
This is one of the problems that even the pros have trouble dealing with sometimes.
Even they can crumble down due to the stress during a tournament game. We have seen that happen a lot of times. Not to mention that dartitis is real and can happen to anyone regardless of their skill. This is why it is essential to learn how to relax when playing darts.
This is why earlier I mentioned the importance of focusing and throwing at these areas of the dartboard that you know are giving you trouble.
Don’t avoid those weak areas but rather focus and own them.
When you start playing darts more professionally, one of the things you will need to learn is how to deal with other player’s antics.
Every player has their little quirk when playing darts. In fact, this is something that is commonly found in players from all sports.
Gary Anderson is a great example: you will see him step on the throw line whenever he goes to the board.
If you just happen to have a little quirk, don’t feel bad or ashamed of it. Sometimes it is a necessary process to get into the zone.
Tip #15: Keep Your Expectations Under Control
Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of new dart players fall victim to.
Keep your expectations low, especially if you have just started playing darts. All people are different; some will see tremendous improvements in their aim and consistency after a few months of play and then slow down while others may need a year or two.
This is not indicative of how good of a player you can become, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Have a goal, but keep your expectations under control.
Tip #16: You Don’t Need to Constantly Change Your Darts
Michael van Gerwen is a great example of a pro dart player that does not change his darts as often as other players do.
If something works, do not fix it, goes the old adage.
So if you feel more confident and comfortable playing with your old slightly worn out darts, then do not worry about what others are saying.
However, sometimes it may be worth trying to get a new set of the same darts that you have been using for a while. The grip fades, and the darts can even get lighter as they wear out. And you may be surprised how different the same set—but brand new—of darts will feel.
Tip #17: Don’t Worry About the Gear
Is your darts gear important? The simple answer is no. Of course, you need some essential gear like a dartboard and a set of darts. But you do not need the best and most expensive darts gear in order to play darts and improve your game.
I talk a good bit about that in my article “Do expensive darts make a difference? “
Focus on the basics and don’t go all-in if you are just starting out. One of the things that make darts so popular is the low entry cost. Darts is not expensive to play and enjoy.
You can literally get the best gear, including some of the best dartboards, that the pros play on for a very modest price.
Tip #18: Dedication
As Phil Taylor puts it the key to becoming a good darts player is dedication. If you want to get good you have to put in the work.
This means sacrifices—not going out with your buddies, staying in and practicing, eating the right food, and so much more.
Tip #19: Enjoy the Game
Before everything else, darts is a pub game, a social game, if you will.
You don’t really need to aspire to become the next big pro star in darts. You can enjoy it and get good at it by just playing in your room or at the bar or the pub with your buddies.
It is so simple if you don’t enjoy playing darts, you will not be able to get good at it.
If there is one thing darts pros can agree on, it is this one—enjoy the game.