From the start of these Covid affected times Darts World has sought to give credit to those, within the darts ecosystem who have stepped up to provide players, and fans,, with extra opportunities to help out.
Winmau have put together a threesome of free/trial offers that will boost your practice performances and may improve your game. Amongst them is SwitchBlade, a game which Darts World introduced to the world a few weeks back. Great to see our friends giving it an even wider audience!
With more people playing darts at home right now than at any other time on earth, we want to make sure that your putting your time to good use and progressing as well as you can. This treble of FREE games developed with our amazing partners GoDartsPro will make sure you have the easiest way to play some really exciting practice games that add a real edge to your game and understanding of how to get better – good luck we hope you enjoy them and as ever feedback always really welcome.
In response to a Darts World article, and player demand, Go Darts Pro have turned SwitchBlade into a fully fledged part of their training program:
Just because Darts World has been going for almost 48 years does not mean were not bang up to date with what dart players need and want! As soon as Isolation, and LockDown, started to hit home, we asked our resident ‘Coach’ and our friends at A.I.M: to help us with practise tips, structure and some fresh thoughts to keep you all entertained.
Coach has been using a drill, with elite players, for several years but he freshened it up and it seems to have caught on! Players then began to petition Anders. a founder of GDP, to include the game. The Go darts pro guys developed the new game speedily and its now ready to go!
Coach is particularly pleased that the drill proved popular at the current times and that its was GDP who took it on:
Mikko was Unique wonderfully intelligent & passionate, about all things darts, we agreed on almost everything. To have one of Our drills included in Go Darts Pro is extremely rewarding.
Mikko Laiho was the co founder of GDP and one of the best darts practise experts we have known. ‘Coach’ added:
That it was players, and readers of Darts World, who flagged it to Anders is the icing on the cake.
So check out the article that started it all here and then head on over to GoDartsPro.com and play the challenge version. Either way your sure to find your switching fluidity improves and you can add a new drill to your daily routine!
Darts World, and our friends at A.I.M:, have been doing our bit to keep darters occupied in during the Covid-19 Lockdown. Little did we know that one of our, ‘Darting Isolation‘, drills, SwitchBladewould begin to get a life of its own!
After its appearance last week SwitchBlade proved popular with readers who then began requesting that our friends at popular practise platform Go Darts Pro, turn the game into one of their challenges. Site operator (and co-founder) Anders got in touch and sought permission to use the game.
A.I.M: were more than happy to see a drill that they have used, with elite players, for many years gain a new lease of life. After a couple of minor tweaks Go Darts Pro have moved through the development stage and are nearly ready to feature the game.
There is more work to do and perhaps a surprise too for those who have been playing it! DW will keep you posted and let you know when you can play:
Weoften ask ‘Coach’, or our friends at A.I.M:, for ideas for your home practice, sometimes others come along that are too good to miss.
The Kill Bull Game from Winmau.tv is one of them. This one has been featured on social media so we had a look. Its a nice, quick, game to work on your bull hitting.
Coach says: “This is nice simple game that can be scaled up or down depending on ability/experience. This means different players can race to their own target while playing together”.
Our resident ‘Coach’ commented:
Downsides: “Often those who try to devise games make then two hard or the consequences of a missed dart/s too great. This is one of those“.
Play the game two ways: “First play it as simply a chase the target or opponent game.” If your doing well, add in the penalty for missing. “When you first add the extra penalty in reduce your target.”
Overall though, its a good drill,if kept within a wider setting. The DW staff had a go and managed the 300 level reasonably soon even with the penalty. The higher levels were indeed tough and frustrating!
“Too much time spent on one drill leads to complacency and or frustration. Neither of these is good within a practise session”.
Today’s, darting isolation, drill/game of the day is called SwitchBlade. It’s a very simply way to get your eyes, & body, used to switching away from its main target. The art of ‘positive switching‘, to hit higher scores rather than from a maths views, was mastered and illustrated by Dennis Priestley, in his first World title run he amazed viewers with his habitual clocking of treble 18. This ensured he was swiftly ‘on a finish’ in minimum darts.
Players in the modern era (PDC and Sky TV), have developed switching to a fine art. Some such as Adrian Lewis and Micheal Smith almost seem to prefer it. Let’s get you more proficient, and automated, at this:
SwitchBlade aims to improve your accuracy and fluidity when switching from one treble bed to another. This applies equally to switching due to vision blockage or to ensure leaving a finish.
As with many of our drills it is based around five turns at the board:
Turn 1 : Aim for Treble 20 with all three darts.
Turn 2: Aim your first two darts at t20 then your third at t19
Turn 3: Aim your first two at t20 then the third at t18
Turn 4: Aim your first two at t20 and the third at t17
Turn 5: Aim your first two at t20 and third at the Bullseye
t20,s20,t20 = 140
s20,t20,s19 = 99
t20,t20,t18 = 174
s20,s20,t3 = 49
t20,t5,Bull = 125
Total = 587
You can vary this drill in many ways, you can use 1 dart at the treble 20 and two at the others or insert a treble you use often from scores such as 180 or 191. Most often used are t13 or t14.
N.B: The core skills are in the template above and that’s the one we use most.
SwitchBlade can be played by any player and doing it regularly will improve your overall play. Higher level players should really push themselves to get this to be second nature.
Level One – For those starting from a lower bar the first order of business is to hit the target aimed for so the 2 in the 20 segment and then one in the aimed for switch. If you manage this for each segment you will gain a score around 299.
Level Two – You should be aiming to hit one treble 20 or one on the switch. Scoring visits should total around 100 (+/- 10). Thus the total will be 450+
Level Three – You should now be looking to hit two trebles quite often. When you don’t hit two you should still be hitting one. Scoring visits will be regularly 131+ and predominantly 91+. Scoring regularly over 550 will put you on a level with our best players.
SwitchBlade requires rhythm and calm, a competitive streak also helps! The highest score, hit with marker/witnessed, is 659. On this one, we shall keep the record hitter to ourselves. It was struck during a private prep session for a very big name a few years ago!
Enjoy SwitchBlade and drop us a line to tell us how you’re doing. Comment below or tweet us – @Darts_World
We at Darts World realise that our fellow darters will be trying to enjoy the nice weather during this first weekend of social (we prefer physical) isolation. However, we shall keep asking ‘Coach’ for his drill of the day. If you don’t get chance to try it out, straight away, it can be added to your dart day routine!
This drill is to get you more fluid when travelling big distances between segments. The percentage rate for hitting or getting a shot at these finishes is much lower than those where two of the trebles are close together. This drill is best done daily, or as often as you practise, but not repeated too many times in a row due. I do not like practising missing too much!
The most regular finishes with Distant Trebles (DTs) are 167, 161, 157, 151 & 153*. The more your reaction to these numbers is automatic and drilled into your arm, the higher your performance will be. It is especially important to react (or not react!) properly to a missed dart. Getting used to missing and not letting it interrupt your flow, or mind, is vital.
So where do you throw your second dart if your first misses? What if you hit t5 first dart or t7, for example, second? These are the things that need to become automatic. They are almost as important as checking out the finish!
Take one turn (3 darts) at each of them. award yourself points as follows:
Checkout in 3 – 20 Points
Shot at a double – 10 Points
Leave a double (no shot) – 5 points
Non Treble finish left – 1 point (e.g. Turn at 161 – t20,s17,s20 & leaving 64)
* 153 is our example of a distant treble (DT) finish that does not involve Bull or Tops if you have another that comes up regularly then use that initially.
167 – t20,t19,Bull – 20 Points
161 – t20,T17,25 (missed bull) – 10 Points
157 – t20,s19,T18 (leave d12 ) – 5 Points
151 – s20, T20, s19 (leave 52) – 1 Point
Total – 36 Points
Between players of similar standard, keeping your focus, even after a stray dart, deflection or bounce out, and completing the set up makes all the difference!
As noted above, the fifth shot is variable according to player preference and or stats evidence of your regular ‘leaves ‘ during games.
The other main variation is for those who choose d16, where possible. They should still work on the above five as they can, and do, come up all the time. But they can look at at five that might reflect their regular paths.
This is a high level drill and for many player does not lead to high scores. But it should lead to improved ones!
Amateur/Pub: 5 Points
Higher Level: 25+
As with all our levels the points is a guide its the improvement and consistency that matters!
The record for this drill is 56 . Hit by a current elite player about 6 years ago. He checked out 161 and 153, wired Tops on 157, left 28 from 167 and 52 from his effort at 151.
It was an exceptional effort, but came from the fact that he consistently set up finishes or had shots in 4/5 of his turns.
So, there you go, a daily dose of the Darting DT’s that are not too painful or full of bad memories. Enjoy!
Hopefully those of you who have been socially isolated are managing to keep up with routines and things to keep yourself busy. Here is another ‘daily drill’ to add to your list:
Middle for Diddle:
A drill that focuses on the bullseye, first dart, to ensure you need less recalculation needed during match play. Recommended to be played after your warm up and between other drills/games that are more scoring focused.
There are a number of finishing points, in a leg, where the bullseye (inner or outer), is the best/only option with your first dart. If you become familiar, and automated, when you see these numbers, your success rate will go up and you will react smoothly to any variation (or cock-up!)
Take one turn (3 darts) at these five outshots using the bull:
61, 65, 82, 125 & 132
Award yourself points on the following basis:
61,65 & 82
2 Dart Checkout –10 Points
3 Dart Checkout – 5 Points
Left a Double – 1 Point
for 125 & 132
Checkout – 10 Points
Double Left – 3 Points
Single – Double Finish left (not single bull!) – 1 Point
Turn 1 – Bull, s3, d4 – 5 Points
Turn 2 – 25, Tops! – 10 Points
Turn 3 – 25, s17, 0 – 1 Point
Turn 4 – 25, t20, Tops – 10 Points
Turn 5 – 25, 19, t20 – (28 Left) – 3 Points
Total Score = 29
N.B.A single point is scored when going for the 100+ finishes by leaving the double e.g. for 132 – Bull, 25, s17 would leave tops and score a consolation 1 point. The same applies if you miss the double after setting it up with darts 1 & 2.
There are shots that can be swapped in and out depending on your personal preferences and in order to ensure that you cover the possibilities that can crop up in a game situation.
63 and 135 are the most likely where you may use the middle ring as an option in certain circumstances or even as your default.
In this drill it’s more overall aims than levels. The first order of business is to get shots at doubles. So a good aim is to get shots at all three lower numbers. Then set up the bigger ones.
An amateur or pub player type should aim to get shots at the lower finishes, and hit one. Score guide – (circa) 10
A league player should be looking to take one of the lower ones in two darts & scoring points on the bigger shots. Score guide – 15+
A higher level player should be looking to take two of the lower ones in two/three darts and gaining points on the others. Score guide – 25+
Elite level players should be regularly hitting 33 or more. (Importantly this should be spread across all 5 finishes and be repeatable if the numbers are swapped)
This is a tough drill at the higher end. It sucks the mind into being too deliberate so dont play it two many times. Use it as a break drill between others and do no more than two goes in a row.
The record for this drill was set a few years ago, a duel code World Championship player hit 61 in 2, 65 in 2 and 82 in three then left 40, after three, going for 125 and checked out 132 – totalling 38.
Middle for Diddle is a harder drill that requires a switch in focus and then another half way through. It puts the Bull at the heart of your efforts for a section of every practice.
Enjoy and lets us know if you can beat 38 or if it helps improve your ‘Bulling’!
Those of you beginning to get used to the idea of the new isolation guidelines, whether self or precautionary, will hopefully be able to fit in some more darts practice. Perhaps we will see remarkable improvements in averages later in the year!
The DW resident ‘Coach’ thinks that practise is better with a structure an an aim. So he has outlined a warm up method and a drill or two to get you going. He is his ‘Drill of the Day’.
Sprint (or Pro) Half-It!
Ok this is a variation we use to get tour players extra sharp on the segments they use most, with a little pressure added, it can be used by all as a short and sharp drill.
This is version of the popular social game Half-It, but stripped down to focus on the important areas for competitive darters.
Take one turn (3 darts) at each of the following numbers/segments:
20, 19, 18, 17, Doubles, Trebles, Bull.
Note the total scored from that number only. Add the cumulative score as you go. If you miss the segment with all three darts your score is halved!
N.B. – On the doubles & trebles turns you get the score from any double or treble hit during the turn. If the score to be halved is odd round up to the nearest whole number.
Half-It is a game which can be varied many different ways. The two which best suit those trying to improve, at a higher level, are:
Adding your favourite treble that you use often. Many add t10 as they use it often to get to a double. This also gives you a personal game to improve at.
Making the last turn inner bullseye only. This can help to refine your ability to hit the bull under pressure, especially last dart! Imagine having a huge score dependent on hitting a, partially obscured, bull with the last dart in hand!
A guide to some benchmark to aim for would be:
Level One – To complete the game without being halved – Min total = 104
Level Two – To complete the game and hit the eqivalent of three of each scoring segment and one of each general segment. 60,57,54,51 + 1 x double 1 x Treble and 1 x 25/Bull.
Level Three – The equivalent of 5 of each scoring segment and one of each of the rest.
Perfection – 180+171+162+153+120(3xTops)+180+150 (3 x Bull) = 1316
If your playing with others, perhaps your children etc, then you can introduce handicaps to level the playing field a little. The better player has to hit a treble on one, or more, segments, or has to hit two doubles to prevent being halved.
Half it is one of the games in which everyone can win. I have witnessed a seventeen your old baby-sitter win ££££s by hitting at least a single every time, then getting lucky on the trebles, then the better players buckled, and her last dart 25 ensured she collected the pot!
Sprint, or Pro, Half It brings out a very competitive urge if you have two similar level players! But the pressure also increases.
In a marked and witnessed game the best scores we have recorded are:
Competitive: 770 (Other player scored 550+)
This was set by Colin Osborne in 2019 – 120+133+90+102+80+120+125
(The Wizard would have scored higher but for a bounce-out on his third shot at t17)
Half-It Pro (or Sprint) is a great drill and should be done regularly in between other drill to re focus on the important board areas and to maintain consistency.
Enjoy and let us know how you get on – @darts_world
If, as a result of Covid-19, you are going to be able to practise more, it is important to get the most out of it. Yesterday’s article talked about the right amount of time to practise for. At dartsworld.com we asked our resident coach for more suggestions:
Coach:The most important thing about darts practice is to treat it more like training for any other sport or physical task. If you are increasing, your practice efforts, you may well be playing at times of the day you are not used to. The bits of you that get used in playing darts usually have hours doing other daily jobs beforehand, this leads us to the (false) sense that we don’t need to warm up.
Those self isolating might be playing much earlier in the day and before you are loose and fluid. Therefor a Warm-Up is more important. Warming up has different purposes, but when at home its mainly to the loosen the limbs and tighten the mind!
A Full Warm Up:
If you are planning a decent practise session (40 mins or more) then you please take 10 mins, or so, to warm-up. Initially, just throw toward the twenties in a very relaxed way, just go through the motions, without any explosive type effort, concentrate on your action and follow through and not the result of the individual darts.
Once you feel that your your body is relaxed, and your throw is smooth and fluid, start moving to the different areas of the board. A few darts at D20, D10, D16 and the Bullseye will get your body, & eyes, coordinated with the more subtle movements which seem almost automatic normally. As long as the darts are going in the correct general area do not be too hard on yourself just yet!
A good drill/game to, bring your warm-up to a close and, begin to narrow your focus is one I call Lights-Out. Simply throw three darts (1 visit) at the 20, 19, 18, 17 & Bullseye segments in turn. If you score 4* or more, of the target number, then it’s knocked out.
So a perfect drill is to take five turns to eliminate the 5 areas. To do this you must score 80+ (20’s), 76+(19s), 72+(18s), 68+(17s) for the Bullseye we half the requirement so two darts within the outer bull completes the set.
After this first go around you will, hopefully have hit the 4* and knocked out one, or more, segments. On round two you may only have 17s and Bullseye left. If you knock them out with your next turn, say 5 17s and two in the ’25’, you will have put the ‘Lights-Out’.
Keep a mental note of how many turns it takes to do this. If you begin to knock the ‘Lights-Out‘ in five or six turns regularly then its time to step to 5* darts in the numbered segments and a total of three in the bull ring ( 3 x 25, 2 x 25 & a Bull or better!).
If you are at a newer stage, in your development, then start with 3* in the 20-17 sections and 1 dart in the outer or inner bull.
Lastly when your using this game as a warm up to do not chase it, give your self of limit of say, ten visits. Used in this way ‘Lights-Out‘ is simply the transition between warm up and real practise!
Hopefully you are now relaxed, warmed up and enjoying throwing? Time to get stuck in!
New World Champion Wayne Warren was recently filmed discussing how he was able to take a brand new set of darts and turn them, and him, into World Championship winners in less than a month.
The video features Wayne in discussion with Red Dragon’s Simon Hall and legendary dartmaker Lee Huxtable.
Now we know that a full discussion about the ins and out of darts design may not suit everyone. But within 10 minutes Lee, Wayne and Simon give a near perfect guide to dart selection, design and manufacture!
Wayne had his original darts made by Lee at Red Dragon over a decade ago. The main elements were a ‘feel’ that Wayne had from his ancient copper tungsten originals and the weight. After much trial and error the perfect ‘replica’ was produced. This involved shotblasting the tungsten to give the feel of a old worn set despite them being brand new. After further experimentation Wayne discovered that 17.5g was perfect for him. As this is an unusual weight a more usual 20g set was released commercially.
Time for Change
Wayne was aware that he had been “been going downhill” following an injury and thought that a little extra weight might help. Lee confirmed that it was possible to keep the vast majority of the dart exactly the same and gain some inertia. As with the original set as soon as Wayne tested the new specification he new it was right for him and it was simply a matter of using them for the three weeks until the World Championship!
The video features other elements such as the grip style, specifications and tungsten percentages etc. It offers a very unusual insight into the process of making a professional’s set of tools and the knowledge, patience and complexity involved. Despite his natural modesty, Lee is a master at what he does and has vast experience to bring to the task.
Darts World’s resident Coach, and our product testers at A.I.M:, feel that this ten minute video contains years worth of experience and know-how hidden under a layer of slightly stilted conversation, its clear that Wayne is a little shy and unused to all the attention!
If your thinking of getting new darts or making changes give the video a look. But, pay as much attention to what does not change, and why, as to what does!
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