When learning to throw a dart the way you grip it will have the single biggest impact on how quickly you can pick up the game and more importantly, start throwing darts with accuracy.
To grip a dart start by picking it up and holding it the same way that you would hold a pen, this is the grip that will feel most natural and will be your starting point. Below are some of the key pointers on how to hold a dart.
- Use your thumb and forefinger to support the weight of the dart. This doesn’t need to be too firm, just enough so that when you hold the dart up it stays in the same position in your hand without rolling.
- The position of where you hold the dart will vary depending on the shape of the dart so just look for a position where the weight is evenly distributed. The dart should be straight and flat when pointed at the board.
- The above two points are the support structure for your grip, to stabilise and aim the dart you will now add your middle finger to the area where the point and barrel meet. You can move this finger closer to the end of the point or further up the barrel depending on what feels most comfortably.
What will affect your darts grip
Darts come in many shapes, weights and sizes, therefore the way you grip one dart will not necessarily transfer over to how you grip another dart.
A dart that is top heavy towards the point (carrot shaped) will require a wider grip closer to the point when compared with a slim, evenly balanced barrel whereby you could comfortably grip the dart center barrel and still maintain stability of the dart.
It’s therefore important to find a dart that suits you early on and try to stick to a similar shape and design when changing darts in the future. The reason I say this is because the above scenario happened to me and I was forced to change grip midway through a league season.
My first ever dart set was a unicorn model based on John Lowe’s dart design. It wasn’t an expensive model of dart (£15/$20 I think), however it was the set that I got used to and learned to play the game with.
The barrel of this dart was large and round at the point and then tapered in to be slimmer at the stem. I therefore had to grip the dart at the point where the barrel meets the point in order to stabilize the dart and this is the grip I developed with.
As I joined the Manchester slip up league, which is played on the Manchester board and has significantly smaller doubles than a regular board I was finding it difficult to play well on because my dart barrels were so big that they would block the numbers if I threw too close. Throwing too close would normally be a good sign of accuracy however in this instance it was more of a hindrance.
I therefore made the decision to upgrade my set to a slimmer dart that would allow for better grouping. This was all well in theory however what I hadn’t factored in was that I could no longer use the same grip to hold the dart, it was too slim to grip based on my adopted style of grip.
It therefore took some adjusting of the space of a few weeks but I finally adapted to a new grip style and that is the key consideration when developing your grip. If you do so based on a specific style of dart then this will not necessarily transfer over to other darts.
How to hold a dart
This seems like it would be the easiest part of playing darts however as is the case in most sports there are certain best practices and guidelines behind holding and gripping a dart.
Your first focus should be on finding a comfortable grip that allows you to keep the dart stable and flat when pointed at the board.
You will want to keep the dart stable and flat in order to improve trajectory and accuracy. If your dart is angled and the point is lined up pointing down instead of at your target then this could lead your dart hitting the board at a less than ideal angle.
When holding a dart in a comfortable position you then want to be focusing on how you are gripping the dart in terms of force. If you hold the dart too tightly then it will be difficult to release the dart with a smooth motion whereas if you are holding a dart too loosely then the release will again be compromised and may lead to the dart wobbling in the air and becoming less accurate.
A good dart grip can be described as firm so that when you hold it it doesn’t move around in your hand but also relaxed enough so that it won’t have any impact on how you release the dart. You should have any muscles of the hand or forearm tensed whilst gripping a dart, if you do then this is a sure sign that your grip is too tight.
A dart throw is intricate, if you need to use more fingers than recommended in order to hold the dart stable then this would be a better option than gripping it tightly with force.
The single best way to determine if you are holding the dart a firm enough grip is to take a natural grip of the dart and move your wrist up and down, if you can do this freely without the dart moving (except in the up and down motion in line with the wrist) then you know that your grip is just right.
If you move your wrist up and down but need to tense your muscles to keep it steady then your grip is too tight, alternatively if during this test the dart shakes and wobbles during the movement then your grip is too loose and you should modify it by either using more fingers to stabilize the dart or changing the position in which you hold the dart.
Finger placement to grip a dart
As I’ve briefly covered earlier, finger position on a dart is one of the key components when it comes to having a stable grip. One of the worst habits you can adopt when learning to throw darts is to use a clenched fist as this will negatively impact your release. A smooth release of your dart will come down to finger placement balanced with a firm grip.
There a few factors that will come into play when it comes to finger placement and ultimately how many contact points you have with the dart (this is how many points of contact you have with the dart which include the point, barrel and stem).
A top heavy dart may require you to hold the dart closer to the point, reducing the amount of fingers you could ultimately use whereas a long dart that’s well balanced may require more fingers in order to hold the dart stable.
There is no right way when it comes to how many fingers you use or where you place them on the dart and it should be specific to the dart that you are using and your comfort level. As long as the dart is stable and under a firm grip then this is a good position.
How to aim a dart
How you grip the dart will significantly determine how you then aim the dart, too tight of a grip will seriously impede your release causing you to lose accuracy whereas too loose of a grip and your dart will wobble through the air, again causing you to lose accuracy.
You want your grip to be firm enough so that you can hold the dart straight and firmly in front for your dominant eye.
Pro tip – to determine your dominant eye make a triangle with your hand as shown in the picture above. Now close one eye, if the dartboard stays central then the eye that is open will be your dominant eye, if the dartboard disappears from view then the closed eye will be dominant.
Once you have your dominant eye decided your aim will be favored towards placing the dart more towards this eye.
Some people tend to use their knuckles as a guide when aiming and some will use the point of the dart. There is no correct way and again it will come down to how you initially grip the dart and what feels most comfortable.