Innovation in the sport of darts has changed little over the past 50 years and the innovation has been led by the dartboard and dart manufacturers. The sport as most know is played in pubs and clubs across the world but until recently it hasn’t been very user-friendly to any disabled player.
Disability comes in many forms but the ability to stand unaided for some disabled players is either impossible or they are at a huge disadvantage against an able player. However, Australian Russ Strobel has turned his attention to wheelchair users and wanted to make the sport that both disabled and able players could compete on an even level.
In 2010 Russ submitted to the Darts Australia a new recommended dartboard height for Wheelchair users. The height Russ has come up with is 137cm to the centre Bull. The height was based on the perceived origins of the standard hanging height of the standard clock dartboard. It is said the average height of a man in the 1920’s was 5’8” (average height of an Englishman). This height statistic was used to hang dartboards in pubs and clubs. The measurement of 5’ 8” has been used to hang dartboards until the UK entered the common European market and at this stage official dartboards, measurements are made using the metric equivalent.
The 5’8” height from the floor to the centre bull became 1.73M / 173cm. Russ took this analogy and worked out what the height a man of 5’8” (173cm) be sitting in a wheelchair. His exact figure came out to be 136.5cm however as Russ explains the addition of 0.5cm would make the recommended wheelchair dartboard height easy to remember 137cm (wheelchair) - 173cm (Standard). I think this minor adjustment makes it easier to recall.
(The only additional ruling to wheelchair darts is that both rear wheels of the chair must be behind the oche throwing line. The chair can be horizontal to the board as some players may prefer this.)
The aim Russ has in mind is for wheelchair users to be able to compete alongside an able body player so Russ has come up with a unique dartboard stand that rotates. A dartboard is mounted on both sides of the rotating panel allowing for quick and easy adjustment between players throws. On one side a dartboard is hung at the conventional height of 173cm and on the other 137cm. This pioneering approach certainly gets get my seal of approval.
Russ initially got the approval of a new dartboard height for a wheelchair user from Australian Darts Organisations and In October 2012 Russ met with the World Darts Federation in Hull (England, UK) to gain their seal of approval for the new height. Russ was pleased to report that after several years of campaigning for the lowered board height that approval had been given initially by the WDF and will consequently open the sport of darts to players with disability in the now 70 member countries affiliated with the WDF.
Darts has always been the sport you can play across gender and age difference also hasn’t posed a problem nor should disability. To set up a board at a different height should not cause tournament sponsors an issue and I personally believe this can only be good for the sport.
Able-bodied or Disability standing player dartboard set-up is the same as standard dartboard set-up
|A: Height to Centre Bull||B: Centre Bull to Oche||C: Throw Distance|
|5ft 8ins / 1.73m||9ft 7 ½ins / 2.93m||7ft 9 ¼ins / 2.37m|
|A: Height to Centre Bull||B: Centre Bull to Oche||C: Throw Distance|
|4ft 6ins / 1.37m||9ft 0ins / 2.74m||7ft 9 ¼ins / 2.37m|
Players who wish to compete in these events need to contact Sarah Smale for an application / registration form. If you are new to disability darts then you will be assessed as to your disability category.
Please not these events for part of the qualification to the WDDA Winmau World Masters Championship. Only players with the necessary qualifying ranking points are invited to play in the Winmau World Masters.
Further details are available from Sarah Smale, British Disability Darts Association (BDDA)
9 - 10th March at Holditch Miners Club - London Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5 7PT
10 - 11th May at Pontins, Prestatyn
22nd June venue TBC
6th & 14th July tournament details TBC
21 - 22nd September Briddlington, Spa
23 - 27th October, details to be confirmed, for qualifying ranking players only
If you are In the UK more information can be obtained from Sarah Smale via the British Disability Darts Association
The WDDA stage other disability tournaments across the World, however I haven’t been able to obtain a definitive list to publish. If you live outside the UK, I suggest contacting the WDDA for advice and more information.
1-3rd February 2019. Disability players can compete alongside abled players as well as entering a separate Disability Darts event. The Dutch Open is the biggest open darts event in the world. For details visit Dutch Open Darts
Details below show the ‘Impairment Classification and Eligibility for WDDA UK Tournaments’. Impairment classification for darts events is still in its early stages, but some things remain constant regardless of the sport when considering the criteria set out by International Paralympic Guidelines. As darts has not yet been included amongst the sports held the Classification detail below is likely to change.
The currency of this information below is June 2015. I will update the detail as and when I am informed. If you need clarification then please contact the WDDA - David King
Please note images are copyright no reproduction is permitted. Organisation and Association logos their respective owners
Impairment classification for darts events is still in its early stages, but some things remain constant regardless of the sport when considering the criteria set out by International Paralympic Guidelines. As darts has not yet been included amongst the sports held we can only ask their assistance to guide us along a parallel pathway of classification that would not require too many adjustments at the time darts is included.
Classification provides a structure for competition. Athletes competing in Paralympic sports have an impairment that leads to a competitive disadvantage in the sport. Consequently, a system has to be put in place to minimize the impact of impairments on sports performance and to ensure the success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus. This system is called classification.
Classification is sport-specific because an impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport. Each sport’s governing body uses the IPC's Eligible Impairment Types and applies them to their sport.
If an athlete is not eligible to compete in a sport, this does not question the presence of a genuine impairment. It means:
We will be using the following six groups which relate to the eight physical IPC eligible impairments classification as used in the closest IPC sport to darts being Archery:
The total or partial absence of bones or joints of the arms, legs or pelvic region as a result of trauma or illness or congenital limb deficiency (e.g. dysmelia). Classes are generally assigned to the athlete according to the number of limbs affected and the location in relation to major joints, (e.g. below elbow). Minimal Disability Generally, the amputation must be at least through the ankle or wrist.
Spinal cord damage as result of injury or a congenital condition such as spina bifida, polio, transverse myelitis, sacral agenesis, spinal tumours, nerve damage, Erbs Palsy, Muscular dystrophies or other conditions that causes loss of muscle strength or paralysis in the trunk and legs (paraplegia) or legs, trunk and arms (quadriplegia) Classes are generally assigned based on where the injury has occurred in the spine and how this affects body movement. Minimal Disability (Australian Paralympic Committee) Generally, the muscle weakness in the legs, trunk, and/or arms, is tested using a 5 point scale. Athletes generally must lose at least 15- 20 points to be eligible for a Paralympic Sport.
This group encompasses those who have cerebral palsy or an acquired brain injury, stroke, brain tumour, multiple sclerosis, Cerebellar ataxia, hereditary spastic paraparesis or condition in which muscle tone, balance or movement coordination are affected. This includes conditions such as hypertonia (quadriplegia, diplegia, and hemiplegia), dystonia, athetosis and ataxia. Classes are sport specific and are assigned according to the impact on movement, balance and coordination and which areas of the body are affected most significantly. Minimal Disability (Australian Paralympic Committee) Generally the impact must be measurable in at least one joint in the arm or leg.
This group encompasses conditions such as Achondroplasia, Spondoepiphysealdyplasia or similar conditions that impact on an athlete’s adult height Minimal Disability The height for athletes with short stature is a maximum of 145cm
Conditions which cause the range of movement in one or more joints is reduced in a systematic way for example due to Arthrogryposis, Talipes Equinovarus. However, hypermobility of joints, joint instability and acute conditions reduced the range of movement which as arthritis are not considered eligible impairments Minimal Disability As a guide the full fusion of one ankle or wrist is the minimum
The group encompasses conditions such as Dysmelia or other conditions causing significant bone shortening in one leg Minimal Disability As a guide a length difference of 7cm is considered
Players from the above six categories will/may need to be assessed to allow inclusion within one of the following three classifications: ST - Standing player W1 - Wheelchair player with limited mobility in legs, trunk and arms W2 - Wheelchair player with limited mobility in legs and trunk
Where a player is new to the sport of darts a Level of Sports Proficiency (LOSP) will be set as the minimum level of skill required. This will ensure safety to those scoring and those using nearby dart boards. The attainment of the LOSP is determined by the tournament organisers.
For a player to enter the competition a demonstration of their ability to consistently hit the playing surface of the dartboard is required. Ten (10) sets of three (3) darts will be thrown during the assessment. After each set, retrieval by the thrower will be made and commencement of throwing the next set of darts within 90 seconds. Any darts that do not meet the surface of the dartboard must not land outside the area defined as the “backboard”. No more than three (3) darts hitting the backboard in the assessment is permissible.
Darts that fall short of the board will be classed as falling outside the defined “backboard” area unless they hit the dartboard or backboard before dropping to the floor.
To attain the required LOSP in Accuracy no more than 3 darts may miss the playing surface of the dart board. All darts that miss the dartboard must hit the area defined as the backboard and not outside this area.
Retrieval of darts can cause fatigue and inaccuracy of throw as games progress. It is therefore important to assess the capabilities of the thrower to retrieve their own darts for the length of a match. WDDA hosted events will allow the use of a retriever of darts where required but this may not be the case in mainstream darts events where a player is expected to retrieve their own darts at all times. Retrieval assessment is carried out in conjunction with the LOSP for Accuracy. Using the time frame and number of darts thrown, a determination will be made as to the need for an appointed “darts retriever”. Where poor accuracy appears to be caused by fatigue the thrower may opt for reassessment after a reasonable period of recovery using a dart retriever. If assessed as attaining the required LOSP in Accuracy with the assistance of a dart retriever the thrower will be required to use a dart retriever for the duration of the event - for all games played. Re-assessment must be undertaken prior to future events before any change to the conditions of play for that player can be made.
LOSP in the sport of darts requires that sporting etiquette is observed at all times. This is not something that relates specifically to any particular disability but relates to all players. Willingness to adhere to, and understanding of the appropriate level of behaviour during any darts activity is considered paramount, not only by the WDDA but all darting organisations. Events hosted by the WDDA do however bring together a range of disabilities including intellectual disability in the one venue which may increase the possibility of anti-social behaviour even if unintended. In assessing the LOSP for darts it is important to consider the following:
The type of disability The level of care in attendance at the event The degree of aggression associated with any lack of etiquette
Where any lack of etiquette is likely, and a commitment by the carer is not forthcoming to be in close attendance at all times, the WDDA cannot accept that player’s entry into an event and therefore are considered to have failed the LOSP assessment regardless of the result in Accuracy and Retrieval.
Attainment of LOSP in all three (3) Categories is required to enter a WDDA darts event. Attaining a LOSP in Etiquette is required for entry into WDDA Satellite events.
Safety during assessment will not be compromised in any way or at any time. Where Accuracy assessments are taking place no person (including the Assessor) will be in front of the thrower. Nobody other than the Assessor may within 4 meters of the assessment area.
The appropriate WDDA Assessment Sheet will be completed and signed by the Assessor and person being assessed upon completion and submitted to WDDA Officials prior to the event.
The process of LOSP is a crucial to the safety, smooth running and integrity of WDDA events. WDDA LOSP Assessment results may be made available to other darts organisations where requested at the discretion of the WDDA Board of Administrators.
In 2014 Winmau introduced Disability Word Master Championship. This first event was a demonstration only and was won by Ricky Chilton he beat Phil Lees 3 – 2
Hopefully, the sport will grow into more avenues.
View the Winmau Disability World Masters Final via YouTube
The above photos were taken at the Winmau Disability Masters 2014. They demonstrate the Wildfire Wildfire Dartboard Frame Equipment in use.
In Pictures the finalists Ricky Chilton and Phil Less, Referee Richard Ashdown, Marketing Director Ian Flack, WDDA Founder Russ Strobel and Former BDO World Champion Any Fordham
Thanks to Russ Strobel and Sarah Smale for the use of some of their photos. To read more about Disability / Wheelchair Darts and the Wildfire 137 Dartboard Frame please visit World Disability Darts Association. | Wildfire 137 Dart Frame Website
|2018||Michael Davis||3||-||1||Ricky Chilton|
|2017||Kevin Turner||3||-||1||Phil Lees|
|2016||Vince D'Hondt||3||-||0||Richard Green|
|2015||Vince D'Hondt||3||-||0||Ricky Chilton|
|2014||Ricky Chilton||3||-||2||Phil Lees|
World contact World Disability Darts Association.
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