I have played for a lot of years and have come across all levels of players from all walks of life and everyone has something to say about practice.
Many new players are always looking for information on how to practice, what to practice, how long should I practice, should I practice against people, should I practice by myself? Many experienced players think that playing against better players is the only way you are going to improve as a player. Then there are many experienced players that think playing against another player is too distracting and takes away from the true meaning of practice. Some players think that when you practice, you should be playing certain games. Other players think that you should just stick to the same practice routine over and over again.
If you Google darts practice, you get everything from videos showing you how to practice, to some top player’s actual practice routines. There are interviews with top players, who take the time to give a glimpse into their practice routines and all kinds of websites telling you that this is the best way to practice. As a new player, I can imagine all that information available online from one website to another that basically contradicts each other can be overwhelming.
When I first started playing as a teenager, there was no internet to be able to look up how to play darts. I went to the local library and looked through a few books they had on darts, but nothing really jumped out at me. My practice routine daily would consist of playing a certain number of games: 501, 301, Cricket and Halve-It (aka Mickey Mouse). I didn’t know any top players, I didn’t know much about darts other than my local league and luck of the draws, so for me, this practice routine worked. Later on, as I got to know many better players, and married one of the best, I learned there was so much more to it all. My practice routine (when I do practice) is spent mostly making sure my mechanics are sound and I can throw consistently at the twenty, since I am a steel tip player. For a soft-tip player, this may be the bullseye instead. Eventually I will move on to the other cricket numbers. My form and mechanics are most important and then I try to have consistent groups of my darts. After that, I worry about moving those consistent groups around the board. It is only after all of this that maybe I might play a game or two to liven things up a little. I generally would never play any games against anyone because you tend to get into bad habits when you practice that way.
When looking online at different practice routines of players, I came across a few interesting ones that were new to me. This first one is called “Frustration” and is courtesy of PDC player, Justin Pipe. Your first two darts must score at least 80 points or 120 depending how lucky you are, then with your third dart you must hit double 1. If you hit double 1 with your last dart then move on to double 2. Score at least 80 points again and hit double 2 with your last dart, and so on all the way to the bull. You must hit the double before you move to the next number. The next one is called “The Invisible Man” and is also credited to Justin Pipe. Give yourself 15 darts to win a leg of 501. If you have not won in 5 throws, then you have lost the leg.
These next two practice routines are from PDC player, Colin Osbourne. This one is simple called “The Thousand Game”. You simply throw at the twenties for score and keep adding it up to try and get to one thousand. The kicker is….if you hit anything other than a 20, you stop the game, go back to zero and start over.
Some of my older steel tip friends know about this one practice game developed by World Champion Bob Anderson and it is called Bob’s 27. You start off with 27 points and you throw at doubles, starting with double 1. For each turn, you throw three darts at double one and you add your score to the 27 points depending on how many double ones you hit. For example, if you hit two double ones, you would add 4 points to your score. You would then have 31 points and move on to your next turn, which will be three darts at double two and so on all the way around the board adding scores for each double you hit. However, the kicker is….if you miss all three darts at the double, you have to subtract the total of that double from your score. So if I had 31 points and missed all three darts at double 2, I would then subtract 4 points and my score would be back to 27 and I would move on to throwing three darts at the double 3. You go around the board on doubles until you end on the bullseye. If you get to a point where you miss and you have to subtract more than what your score is, then the game is over. A perfect score is 1437. The highest score I have seen posted is 955.
Here are a few other practice games I have come across over the years as well:
Cricket Count Up---This game is used more as a practice game or a warm-up game for players, and it involves taking one turn at each cricket number to see how many of these numbers you can hit per turn with three darts. Your score is cumulative until you end with the bulls-eye. Triples count as three, doubles as two, and singles as one. The highest score obtainable would be 60. Highest score posted is 50.
50 at Bulls---You shoot 50 darts at the bullseye. Singles count as singles, doubles count as doubles. A perfect score is 100. Highest score ever posted is 69.
Round the World---The player begins with the number one and throws sequentially through the number twenty and the bulls-eye. The object of the game is to hit as many of each number per turn of three darts. Triples count as triples, doubles count as doubles, and singles count as singles. Scores are accumulated until every player has thrown at all numbers on the board. The game is also referred to as “Round the Clock” or “Around the World.” Highest score posted is 134.
100 at 20's---You shoot 100 darts at the 20's. A perfect score is 300. Highest score ever posted is 208. For the highest scores posted, the reference is from the SEWA-darts online darts forum that actually has a practice rankings page, which is a large Excel spreadsheet created where members of the forum can go in and enter their individual scores for tracking. Back in the mid-2000’s, there were many players that were a part of this darts forum (long before Facebook was around). Some of the best players in the world have posted their scores there, including such notables as Canada's John Part, England's Bob Anderson, and Australia's Tony David, just to name a few that have some World titles to their credit.
As for what your practice routine should be, only you can decide that. Take your time to learn the game and what you are doing. Work on making sure you have sound mechanics and then create a routine that best suits you for what you want to accomplish in the game and what level you want to compete at. People can vary so much in what they want to achieve that a certain approach for one player may not necessarily work for you.
Anne Sleepy Kramer www.sleepykramer.com
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