Throwing Tips & Bad Habits to Avoid
There are a number of basics to keep in-mind, including several bad habits that you should avoid. We hope these will help dart players.
A steady stance is very important. Don't lean way over the line to get closer to the board. This one is a tough habit for some people to beat, but try. As leaning robs the darter of stability. The feet and legs should be positioned in a solid, comfortable, and relaxed stance, with weight distributed to both feet. Excessive leaning places nearly all of the body weight on one foot, tiring the shooter in long matches and damaging accuracy in the short run.
The few inches gained by leaning over the line are simply not worth the huge loss of balance and stability. Plus, leaning lowers the shoulder, forcing one to throw upwards, fighting gravity. Leaning also usually means tensing the major muscles of the body to preserve balance. This often results in a jerky release and poor follow-through, since the body is already off-balance.
A number of long-time players report back, knee, ankle, and foot pain, from spending many years standing on one foot while playing darts. Even in the short run, leaning to throw will cause minor pain in the small of the back. Especially for older players, a firm stance will stop this discomfort, both while playing and the next morning!
Keep your feet planted solidly on the floor, and avoid lunging or lifting the back foot off the floor during the toss to get a harder throw. This can really be a bad habit, as it affects the entire body and throw. Lifting the foot even partway from the floor deprives the body of good balance during the crucial moment of follow-through. The strength required to reach the board with any normal dart is minimal, and for best accuracy should be provided only by the fingers, wrist, and forearm. After the dart leaves your hand, let your hand and arm continue on towards the dartboard.
Imagine that you are bowling.. after letting go of the ball, you still must follow-through! The same applies to Golf, Billiards, Basketball, and most every other sport. Follow-through after releasing the dart, ending up with your fingers fully extended, as though touching the spot that you want to hit.
Missing the board or hitting too low often cause beginners to think that more power is needed. This is rarely true, as one can tell by the fact that the missed darts usually hit hard enough to stick in the wall, which is quite expensive over time. Heavier darts can exaggerate the damage since the heavier the dart the more tips you are likely to break. The problems lie with the accuracy of the throw and follow through. Even small children can be taught to throw accurately without lunging or using the shoulders in a throw.
If you feel short of power, stand upright, and keep your elbow up. The upper arm should be parallel to the ground. This allows you to bring your arm back further, without hitting yourself in the face with the dart!
Stand Straight, Elbow Up, and you will effectively double the power of your throw without any extra effort. For one thing, the dart is much higher than when leaning, so gravity does much of the work for you.
The dart should be held in a level position, and maintain as level a stroke as possible. Don't hold the dart sideways, or in any other position than level and pointed at the board. Skill at darts requires being able to perform the same motion exactly the same way, time after time. This creates muscle memory. All non-essential motion should be avoided and discarded from the routine.
In Darts, this means that if the dart is to strike the board at a level attitude (nearly always the best), it should be held and thrown from a position as close to level as is possible. Any other position (such as point-up, point-down, or sideways) means extra motion of all the hand and wrist muscles to correct the initial starting position. Pure wasted effort... and usually futile, since the dart will likely leave the hand at an angle and wobble all the way to the board. And the correcting motion needed to get the dart back pointed at the board imparts inertia to the dart's mass, away from the direction of the target. Then the darts will often stick in the board at odd angles. After a long period of play, when concentration starts to slip a little, this can really be obvious, with darts hitting at all sorts of different angles.
Good luck from Cue & Cushion.