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What Is a Cover Shot in Darts

What Is a Cover Shot in Darts?

Have you ever watched a professional darts game and noticed players will frequently throw for the triple 19 instead of constantly throwing for triple 20. These two numbers are on opposite ends of the dartboard so there must be some logical reason why players do this? 

Well, there is a logic behind it. When players switch from a triple 20 to another number – typically triple 19 or triple 18 – they are doing what is known in darts as a “cover shot”.

In this article, I’ll explain what a cover shot is in darts, whether or not beginner players should look to use cover shots, and when the best time to use a cover shot is. 

What Is a Cover Shot in Darts

What is a cover shot in darts? A cover shot in darts is when a player will switch from aiming at the triple 20 to another high number on the board like triple 19 or triple 18 depending on the player’s preference. A cover shot is needed when a first or second dart blocks the triple 20 bed, usually due to a steep landing angle. 

Depending on your throwing angle, most players’ darts will either land on the board with the tip pointing down or at a relatively flat angle. If your darts hit the board with the tip pointing upwards and the flight resting below the barrel, you likely need to adjust the darts flight, darts stem, or how you throw the dart.

With that last point aside, cover shots are typically used when a dart is blocking the triple 20 meaning that throwing for it is significantly less likely to hit it. In these scenarios, it makes far more sense to then throw for the next highest number as you have a statistically better chance of hitting it. 

Why Do Dart Players Go for Triple 19

Why do pros throw for triple 19 when they miss triple 20? If the triple 20 bed is covered by a dart obscuring your view, professional players will switch numbers and throw for triple 19, this is known as a cover shot in darts. The reason players throw for 19 is because it’s the second-highest score possible behind a triple 20. 

Everyone wants to see 180 scores fly in and often you’ll be disappointed when you see a professional player hit two triple 20s and then switch to the triple 19, but the reason for this is solely to improve your chances of winning. 

If you’re unlikely to hit a triple 20 due to a dart blocking it or another dart loosely hanging in, it just makes sense to switch to another high number – which is of course the 19s.

Blocked 20 ^^

As a good example, just look at this video below. On this second throw, MVG has already hit two triple 20s but didn’t feel confident with the third dart so switched to the triple 19 and hit it with ease. 

As you can see, a dart doesn’t need to block the triple 20 for a 19 to be a viable cover shot, it will all depend on individual situations and preferences. If you feel that a triple 20 is hanging in loosely for example and could be knocked out with any sort of collision, an obvious way to preserve your points scored is to then switch to the 19s. 

Dart players mainly go for triple 19 as a cover shot to maximize points as they might be aware that triple 20 is not a viable shot. 

This is the sole reason this switch is made, the opportunity to score 57 is much better than a missed triple 20 scoring just 20 points for the dart. This is taking advantage of dart averages and is the main reason why professional players have such a high average – they are not only accurate but know when to switch to a cover shot. 

Triple 19 To Leave a Finish

Something many players fail to consider is leaving yourself on an easy finish. An easy assumption for most intermediate-level players (capable of hitting a triple with consistency) is that hitting more triple 20s will win you the game. 

This can be true but not if a 100 or 140 score leaves you on an awkward outshot. Triple 19 is a great cover shot for many to leave an easier finish. Darts is a game of odd and even numbers and if you only focus on the 20 segment, you might make it more difficult for yourself when it comes to finishing. 

501 darts starts on an odd number so if you score 100+ scores consistently, chances are that when you get close to a finish you will still be on an odd number. The triple 19 is therefore used as a cover shot by many to leave themselves on a finish as early as possible. 

A triple 20 may get you 3 extra points but this could leave you on a 2 dart finish whereas scoring a 57 could leave you with just 1 dart needed to checkout. 

Other Types of Cover Shots

Triple 19 is not the only cover shot used by dart players. Depending on your accuracy or situation, other cover shots can include:

  • Triple 18
  • Triple 17
  • Triple 16
  • Triple 15
  • Bullseye

Using these numbers as a cover shot will depend on your individual preferences and the situation in which you need a cover shot. Triple 19 is the default but if you are close to a finish (<200 points remaining) you also need to consider leaving yourself on the best outshot possible. 


Once you get familiar with darts, you’ll hear phrases like “switch” or “cover shots”. A cover shot in darts is used when the triple 20 is blocked or difficult to hit with the following dart. A cover shot will typically be the next highest scoring possibility on the board which is usually the triple 19.

Learning to consistently make a cover shot is the difference between a good player and a winning player so committing practice time to become more accurate on cover shots will only make you a better darts player. 

I’m often impressed by an accurate cover shot but do you know what’s more impressive? How the cameras know when a cover shot is being made because they always seem to capture it on a live game!