Home Darts Beginners Guide: How to play darts

Beginners Guide: How to play darts


Inspired by the World Darts Championships? Want to take up the sport but don’t know where to start? Here is our guide on how to play darts.

The Darts


We start then with the darts themselves. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. Everything from the weight, grip on the barrel, the type of stems to the flights all have their part to play.  Our best advice is to seek out a darts shop where you’ll be able to trial run the darts that you are seeking to buy. If you don’t have that luxury however, then you can always go online to the many retailers and manufacturers who ship worldwide. It is also important to note that your favourite player from the PDC or BDO is very likely to have their signature darts for sale. From Phil Taylor’s to Diogo Portela’s, it is a great way to support and attempt to emulate your favourite players!

The Board and Oche

Dart board

Practicing down at your local Rileys is of course always recommended, but you’ll also want to setup a board at home to get in those crucial extra practice sessions. When buying a board, we would recommend buying a similar one to the one you’ll be playing your competitions or league matches on. Very generally speaking these tend to be Winmau Blade 4 and above or the Target series. If you have aspirations of the PDC variety however, then Unicorn boards are definitely the way to go. When setting up in your home, make sure you have the power drill on hand if you are attaching to the wall. If you don’t want to attach to the wall, then there is always the option of a darts tripod or a hanging it on a door. For an oche, once correctly measured make sure you at the very least have a marker on the floor to ensure you are throwing from the correct length. Alternatively you can always invest in a roll-up oche or one that can put together.

Key measurements – The standard height from the floor to the bullseye on the dartboard is 5 feet 8 inches, while the oche (distance between the front of the board and the toeline) should measure 7 feet 9.25inches.

The Technique


As with a golf swing, there is no one way to throw darts. Sticking to the general principle of standing still and throwing is a good place to start, but even this isn’t compulsory. You can then begin to experiment with what works for you. Are you slow and methodical like Justin Pipe for example, or rapidly efficient like Ricky Evans. It is important to experiment in the early days of playing before settling on a technique and rhythm that works for you.

If you are very passionate about improving quickly then darts coaching has become increasingly popular. The Darts Performance Centre do video analysis and offer some great advice at their location in New Milton. Wayne Mardle also offers coaching as does the Bachelor of Darts Justin Irwin. It is quite the investment, but all can assist with taking your game to the next level.

The Practice Routines


Playing endless legs of 501 is great for your scoring but won’t improve your game in the long run. Adding a variety of practice routines into your regime is a great way of improving your all round game. Bob Anderson’s 27 is a classic for your work on the doubles. Starting off with 27 points, you through three darts at a double from 1 to 20 and finishing on the bull. Every time you hit a double then that’s how many points you score, but if you miss then you subtract a single double from your score. If you reach nought or minus points then you have to start again.

You may also wish to invest in a darts app which replicates match conditions like Russ Bray’s or Darts for Windows.

The Maths


Counting is an extremely crucial part of darts and something that is often overlooked. Getting a checkouts card from the internet and practicing the scores at home is a great way to learn your outshots. When learning, it is also important to make a note of your favourite double so that you give yourself the best chance of landing on it.

Also be aware of the 13 three figured outshots where you’ll in all likelihood still have a chance of finishing even if you miss the desired treble with your first dart.

120 – If you hit a Single 20, the treble will leave you D20

121 – If you hit a Single 20, treble 17 will leave you the Bull

122 – If you hit a Single 18, treble 18 will leave you the Bull

123 – If you hit a Single 19, treble 18 will leave you the Bull

124 – If you hit a Single 20, treble 18 will leave you the Bull

125 – If you hit an Outer Bull (25), treble 20 will leave you D20

126 – If you hit a Single 19, treble 19 will leave you the Bull

127 – If you hit a Single 20, treble 19 will leave you the Bull

128 – If you hit a Single 18, treble 20 will leave you the Bull

129 – If you hit a Single 19, treble 20 will leave you the Bull

130 – If you hit a Single 20, treble 20 will leave you the Bull

132 – If you hit the Outer Bull, treble 19 will leave you the Bull

135 – If you hit the Outer Bull, treble 20 will leave you the Bull


The Clothing

Team Rileys

Clothing requirements for darts varies on the scenario. If you are at a local league or tournament, there are unlikely to be any requirements on what you wear. The more serious the event however and the more likely you are to have to meet certain criteria in terms of what you wear. Taking the upcoming Rileys UK Open Amateur Qualifiers as an example, all players must wear a collared shirt, trousers (not jeans) and shoes (not trainers). A good tip in this scenario is to practice in the same clothing you expect to be wearing for the competition, in the run up to the event.

A darts shirt is synonymous with darts playing attire. It isn’t compulsory to have one of course, but certainly having a collared shirt that wicks perspiration will definitely help you.

The Competition


Now that you are all set up, its time to compete! Local pub league teams are a great place to start or even individual singles leagues such as the Individual Darts League at Rileys Victoria. If you have County aspirations, you may wish to look to see if any local venues in your area hosts a Super League team.

And then there are the Opens. Open competitions are a great way to mix it with the best. What better way to start your darting journey than with the Rileys UK Open Qualifiers which kick off very shortly.

Matthew Kiernan Multimedia Journalist. Passionate about darts.