Dartboard rules and distances - explained

Dartboard Rules and Distances – Explained

In this section we look at dartboard rules as well as the dartboard distance and height that you need to set it up for.

There aren’t many rules and regulations for playing darts but to play properly you need to know how high the dartboard should be and also how far away you should stand from the dartboard when throwing your darts.

Once you are doing it right you will have a better chance of winning all these darts games!

Here’s a summary:

Dartboard rules

The most common form of darts game is “501”, where each player starts on 501 and has to score points as quickly as they can until the score reaches zero.

Each player takes it in turn to throw three darts at a time.

The collective score of the three darts is then subtracted from the overall score (beginning at 501).

The last dart thrown before the score reaches zero must be a double or a bullseye.

Once a player gets to below 180, he can checkout in 3 darts. Most numbers under 180 can be checked out.

[Take a look at this handy Darts Checkout Table]

For example, if a player needs 24 and take his turn to throw, he can finish in one dart by throwing a double 12.

If he misses and hits a single 12 he will then have 12 left, meaning he can finish by scoring a double 6.

If the player then hits a score higher than 12 he will “bust” which puts his score back to what it was before his throw of darts (i.e. he would go back to 24 and in the next three darts would need to hit a double 12 again.

When a player’s score reaches below 180 he has a chance to reach zero in three darts with a scoring double as the last dart. The accomplishment of this is called a “checkout”.

A checkout is not possible for all combinations below 180, for example, it is not possible to score 163 in three darts with a double score on the last dart. Therefore, you cannot checkout on 163.

In some matchplay versions of darts each player must begin the game by throwing a double, as well as finishing on a double. This type of game is called a “double start”

A number of games are played to decide the winner. Typically, players will play the best of five “legs” to decide who wins the “set”. Each leg starts at 501 and finishes once a player has checked out with a double. Any number of sets can be played. Both the PDC World Championship and World Grand Prix use the “set” format for deciding winners.

Dartboard distance and height

Dartboard distance

The oche (the regulation dartboard distance from the front of the board to the your toeline as you stand to throw) should measure 7 feet 9.25 inches (237 cm). For a standing darts player both feet must behind the oche line. For a wheelchair user both rear wheels of the wheelchair must be behind the line, although the front wheels of the wheelchair can be in front of the oche line.

Dartboard height

For a standing darts player the regulation dartboard height measured vertically upwards from the floor to the center of the bullseye should be 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm).

For a wheelchair user (seated darts player) the height should be 4 foot 5 inches (137 cm) from the floor.

Summary diagram showing the regulation dartboard height and distance
Summary diagram showing the regulation dartboard height and distance

How to Throw a Dart

For a standing darts player the regulation dartboard height measured vertically upwards from the floor to the center of the bullseye should be 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm).

If you have ever wondered how to a throw a dart the proper way then read on. Playing darts is a professional art that should be learned if you want to get better. The more skilled you become the more you will enjoy the game.

You cannot become a professional overnight and in order to improve your scores you need to learn precisely how to throw a dart. You have to learn and unlearn, and this process might take you quite some time.

In order to throw a dart properly, the thrower must observe three essential techniques and methods, namely; throw, grip and stance. Your expertise in this art depends on how well you develop yourself in these three ways. So let’s look at the throw, grip and stance one by one and follow this guide for the perfect throw:

The Throw

Your throw is the number one thing to consider when playing darts. When a dart is thrown, it moves in a parabolic curve to its target and this parabolic nature of the throw is what you need to consider. The throw must involve every part of your body; some parts may be fixed while some other parts must move as the dart moves. To make your throw a good one, you need to consider the following:

Your shoulder and body movement: When making a throw, you should not move your shoulder and body. Keep them fixed and move only your arm. Only raise your elbow a little when the dart accelerates, keep it fixed on returning your hand.

Snapping your wrist: Some good players have it as a norm to give room for their wrist to snap just before letting the dart go. This is important to improve the dart speed, and it also gives room for consistency and accuracy in the throw. It is an excellent means of relaxing your arm as you let the dart go.

Keep your arm in motion: It is a common practice by new players to return their arm to the initial position after the dart is released. To ensure that the dart follows your desired parabolic path and arrives at the required target, you have to describe the goal by proceeding with the throwing motion even after the dart has been released.

The Grip

This talks about how loosely or tightly you hold the dart. Your grip matters a lot in determining the success and failure of your dart. Mastering the best practice in grasping a dart will move you to a greater pedestal in the art. Gripping is one of the main techniques that distinguish an expert player from an amateur. The common questions asked about gripping are: how firmly or loosely should one hold the dart? Here are a few primary things you need to know about your grip.

To grip the dart, first put it in an open palm, make sure it is balanced and at the center of it. Move the dart to your finger using your thumb and ensure that the dart is held with as many fingers as possible. The number of fingers used in holding the dart is important.

Your grip determines the effectiveness of your throw. Ensure that the dart points up in each throw. Hold the dart not too strongly but at the same time not too loosely. The dart should be held strong enough to ensure that you have control of its acceleration and it should be held loose enough to make sure that it does not fall off your hand. As a matter of fact, you should ensure that you do not exert so much pressure on your muscles as you make a grip. The more force you use on your muscles, the more difficult it will be to release the dart and therefore the chances of poor throw increases.

The dart should be held with as many fingers as possible because the greater the number of fingers you use to hold the dart, the more you can control its acceleration. However, the more the fingers used in holding the dart, the greater the difficulty in releasing it. The optimal number of fingers to hold a dart is 3, which include two fingers and the thumb. It is strongly discouraged to hold dart with only two fingers, a finger and a thumb because you will have poor control of it.

The kind of barrel will determine the grip as well. The longer the barrel, the more the fingers required to give a firm grip. Players will have to practically choose the best barrel that will suit their needs to play better.

When holding the dart with three fingers, the other fingers should be spread away in such a way that they will not touch the fingers used in holding the dart. This is important to allow for a good throw and avoid the other finger interfering with the darting movement.

The Stance

Since darting is all about the movement of your entire body, your position during the play is equally important. Stance talks about how you position and move your legs and other parts of the body during the throw to give a well-coordinated and perfect throw. A weak stance will result in a poor throw, and you might miss the target.

One thing you must put to mind here is that the target, the eye, and the dart must be in the same line to hit the target correctly. This alignment will help you to reduce error and improve accuracy. Here are a few details you put to mind about your stance.

Do your best to make your shoulder stay at angle 90, but this should not replace your comfort. If you are not comfortable at angle 90, you can also put the shoulder at angle 80 or 50. Whatever angle the shoulder take, also make sure that the feet take that angle to maintain stability.

The distribution of your weight determines your balance. Your forward foot should always stay on the floor, and the behind foot has to maintain your stance. Make sure that you do not jump with the forward foot else you might lose balance.

You can lean forward as much as possible to get closer to the board, but this might cause physical injury to you.

The balance you choose matters, and it should be such that will keep your body fixed. Your arm is allowed to move with negligible little discomfort to your body, and your toe should just touch the floor to get the right throw.

Watch the following video by former world champion Bob Anderson for one more tip. It’s quite obvious once you know, but it’s a classic mistake a lot of people make!


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