It is true to say darts has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings and from the very start players and onlookers have placed wagers on the outcome of a game. In 1908 the game was nearly banned in English pubs because games of ‘luck/games of chance’ were illegal. However, a pub landlord, Jim Garside proved in a court of law that darts was a skilled game.
Jim took one of his customers William Annakin to demonstrate. A dartboard was hung in the courtroom, and William dually threw three darts all hitting the twenty. The challenge then was made for a court official to replicate the throw; they couldn’t thus proving darts was a game of skill and not luck. Hence from that day forward, customers were allowed to continue to play the game and to throw darts for a small wager.
Most professional players learn their skill playing in pub leagues and super-league competitions. They tend to be the first to arrive, and put in a lot of practise before others arrive. Mervyn King, who plays on the PDC circuit, is renowned for turning up to the darts venue three-four hours before he is due to play to go through his practice routines.
Although practising is a vital part of any sport you may take up, players will always say there is nothing like competition and match play. For new players that may have just progressed from the home dartboard, the transition to a pub league may seem simple. However, replicating the high scoring and big checkouts in a league match or pressure game is not so simple.
Professional players will have a set warm-up routine, and this won’t be blindly throwing at the treble twenty endlessly, although high scores are paramount to doing well.
The basics of the sport are as crucial as scoring high. Playing around the clock on singles and doubles is a favourite routine. And short games of 101 or the practice of two and three darts out shots are equally as important.
Setting yourself a target is always going to help improve your darts, and professional players do this all the time. It is pointless setting targets that are initially unachievable for any sport. However, the targets need to be achievable but stretching, and there is no point in cheating as you only cheat yourself.
If you do not have a practice partner, then set your self a game target. If you are new to the game but are managing to hit the twenty bed with reasonable ease, then first set yourself a target of 60 per throw with the view you checkout a 501 game on the first attempt. Write your score down and also give an imaginary player a score of sixty on every throw. Should your imaginary player effective achieve the 501 before you have managed to checkout, then keep playing until you can comfortably win.
Top professionals will be able to regularly average 100 or more hence the target they set will be 100 per throw as they know at the highest level you need to score this amount to stand a chance of winning. If you are not at this level, don’t despair as regular practise and match play will improve your game.
You might think you are a good player as you regularly win at your local and maybe in your local league. At this stage most players are just happy and enjoy the game as a past time, however, if you want to earn money at the sport as many new players do, then you need to spread your wings and play in other location.
Professional players are never content at winning at their local establishment; they have the hunger for more and are prepared to travel. If you are good enough, you may be selected to play for your local town or county. Take these opportunities as you will then play people of equal standing and in many cases, better.
Professional always look to play players that give them a challenge and piratically players that never give up even when they are behind.
If you want to progress and you feel you are of a standard that can push the best, then play in some of the many darts opens. As the name suggests, ‘open’ allows anyone to play if they pay their entrance fee. You could be playing a TV star in your first match or someone who is honing their skill.
If you do well at these events, then most professional would say it might be the time to set your sights higher.
The pinnacle of the sport is to play in the Professional Darts Organisation (PDC) events. However, even seasoned players that may have played for their Country find qualifying for the PDC difficult.
PDC Q-school was introduced to cap the number of players that can regularly play on the lucrative PDC darts circuit. January every year the PDC have a straight knockout competition for players wanting to join the PDC. Winning an event, a player receives a two-year tour card allowing them to compete of the PDC circuit. After two years, depending on their ranking by order of merit, they either keep their tour card or lose it and have to compete again!
Although Q-School is open to anyone, there is a hefty entrance fee which may put a lot of players off. Hence to say if you are not up to standard then best not compete as you will only you’re your money.
In January 2020, Lisa Ashton became the first lady’s player to gain a two-year tour card, and along with Fallon Sherrock, they are inspiring a new generation of lady players to take up the sport. You may be the next Lisa Ashton or might be on the way to being the next millionaire like Michael van Gerwen.