Darts is a game that you’ll notice is difficult to find a competitive edge. In most sports there are certain tactics you can make use of to gain an advantage, you can hit the gym to become more athletic, can study up on tactics, or develop new techniques/skills.
With darts, it’s basically you vs the board and there is not much you can do to gain a competitive edge over the board. Or is there….
Can you lean over the line in darts? You can lean over the throw line (otherwise known as the oche) in darts just as long as your feet do not go over the line. Whether there is any benefit to leaning over the line will depend on how it affects your balance as you need a stable stance for an accurate throw.
You may wonder whether or not leaning closer to the board can be an advantage in darts and if so, why is everybody not doing it? Well, in this article I’ll cover why you might want to lean over the line in darts for a slight advantage but also some of the other factors that you need to take into consideration.
How Far Is the Throw Line in Darts
Before getting into leaning as a strategy, we’ll quickly cover what distance you need to be from the board when throwing. While leaning can be subjective and it’s not something that is regulated, you do need to throw from a minimum distance in darts.
For steel tipped darts, the throw line is generally 7 ft 9¼ in(2.36855 m) from the face of the dartboard, measured horizontally. The throw line is also more commonly referred to as the oche or it can also be called the toe line, which will lead us nicely into what the specific rules are for throwing distance.
Can You Lean Over the Line in Darts
As it stands, there is not a requirement for where you need to release your darts from when throwing. What I mean by this is that the throwing line is the point at which you need to stand behind and is not the position from where you need to release your darts during the throw.
The best example of this is when players block a bed with their first dart and need to adjust left or right from the oche in order to get a better angle to see the number (usually a double as most players will play a cover shot if they block the bed on a treble).
The only throwing rule in relation to the oche in darts is that your foot cannot go past the front edge of the throw line during a release. This means that as long as your foot is on or behind the throw line, you can throw from anywhere that measures a minimum of 7 ft 9¼ in from the board.
It’s also this rule that means players are free to lean forward when releasing their dart as long as their foot does not pass the front edge of the throw line. There is no rule that states you cannot lean forward when throwing your dart and some well known professional players certainly make use of this option.
How Far Can You Lean in Darts
As mentioned above, as long as both feet are behind the throw line, there is no specific rule against leaning as far as you want. Some people consider this to be an unfair advantage as taller players with longer arms can lean much closer to the board theoretically making it easier to play.
As someone that is just under 6’2 in height and has arms that are equally long, I can say firsthand that leaning forward does seem like an unfair advantage, especially considering the fact that there is no rule to determine how far I lean.
Some organizations and leagues have actually addressed this and I know some soft tip dart leagues in the states make everyone stay behind the line with no leaning allowed. These are, however, rare instances and it’s certainly not standard practice.
While I mentioned above that leaning forward can seem like an unfair advantage, especially for taller players like myself, that might not necessarily be the case. I have one more quick topic to cover and then I’ll get into the benefits (and drawbacks) of leaning over the line.
Can You Stand on the Throw Line in Darts
Professional darts players receive clear instructions on where they can stand in relation to the throw line for each venue and tournament. The reason for this is because a different oche can be used with a different width throw line.
For the average darter, however, you might be wondering whether or not you can actually stand on the throw line in darts. This is something that often causes an issue in friendly pub games as people will often disagree about whether or not you can actually stand on the line or whether you need to be behind it.
Just to be clear, you can step on the throw line as long as your feet do not pass the front edge of the throw line. The front edge is the edge of the tape (or marking) that is closest to the dartboard.
Therefore, if you are using a thin laser oche (see my recommendations below) it’s best to step behind the line completely but if you are using thick tape, you can stand up towards the front of the tape but not over it. Raised oches are the best in my opinion as you can press your foot against the platform and not have to worry about stepping over it.
** If you are looking into a laser oche I’d recommend the Winmau laser oche as a good option. I’ve used it for a few years and it saves buying a dart mat or measuring a distance every time. For my friends over in the states, the Viper laser throw line is also a decent alternative I hear.
Is There Any Benefit to Leaning Over the Throw Line
OK, we know you can lean over the line in darts (as long as your feet stay behind the throw line) but with this hidden knowledge and rulebook loophole, why aren’t all the pro players NBA rejects who can lean forward and almost place the dart into the board?
The short answer is that getting closer to the board can definitely help during a throw but you will lose balance in the process. Any beginner dart guide will tell you that balance and a solid base during your throw is key to consistency. The dart stance is one of the fundamentals to getting better at darts (check out – how to get better at darts – for a more in-depth guide)
Any sort of body movement will negatively impact your throw and some of the best players around are those that move nothing but their forearm and wrist when during a throw. This is so true that I’ve even covered how overweight dart players seem to have an advantage as they have a more solid foundation for balance.
The loss in balance when leaning forward will usually lead to more inconsistent dart throws and less accurate throws which seriously negate any benefit that you might get from leaning over the oche to steal a few extra inches.
Honestly, if leaning further forward was such a sneaky loophole, most of the professional players would be doing it by now. We’ve seen enough to know that they will lean forward to an extent, but not enough so that it affects their balance.
If you can lean a bit further forward now knowing that you won’t be penalized, I’d definitely recommend testing it out. If you can release your dart slightly closer to the board and the throw line whilst still keeping your balance and stability, it can only benefit your game.
Just make sure you don’t get carried away and try to lean too much, technique and consistency in darts is key and trying to “cheat” the game will not progress your skill level, scoring, finishing, and win ratio very much.
If you’ve been wondering how you can get a competitive edge in darts (besides from practicing to improve your consistency and finishing) and feel like leaning over the line could be your hidden trick, you can take some joy in knowing that you can lean over the throw line in darts.
What I will say though is that it’s a deceiving advantage as what you make up for in terms of closing the distance between yourself and the board during a throw, you lose just as much (if not more) in terms of balance and stability during a throw.
If leaning was such a good hack we would see every pro straining to lean as far forward as possible however balance and a consistent, stable throw is one of the most important aspects for throwing good darts. You should therefore only lean as far forward as your balance will allow which for most people, is not very far!
Also check out:
Best dart throw lines