Play it forward: helping and teaching other players
The publishers of Anne Kramer’s book The Ultimate Book of Darts, asked her to put together a tutorial to teach people who are completely new to darts. And it got her thinking ‘How do you teach the game of darts to someone that has no clue about it?’
There’s that old saying: ‘Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.’ We’re calling BS on that right now, because we reckon in darts ‘Those who can, do, but those who teach, do the game a favour.’
So, where do you start with teaching other players, and what do they need to know first, versus what they’ll learn through practice and experience? How do you tell them how to choose a barrel/shaft/flight combo, when choosing a set up feels like Goldilocks trying infinite bowls of porridge to find the one that’s just right? How do you teach strategic scoring, the confidence to stay cool under pressure or the sportsmanship that’s fundamental to our great game?
Turns out, Anne started by teaching someone close to home. “My siblings and I had been playing darts for about a year, when one day, mom came into the room while I was practicing by myself and asked me how to play. I taught her all about the scoring surfaces on the dartboard and that the maximum score in one turn is not achieved by hitting the bullseye, but by getting a triple 20. We then moved on to the equipment, how to hold the dart, and the mechanics of throwing. After about 15 minutes, I figured mom had all the ammunition she needed to make a successful first attempt at throwing darts. She stepped to the line, got herself set, raised her arm and threw three of the most perfect darts I had ever seen – a 180 with those first three darts. Mom was forever banned from the dartboard from that moment!”
Think back to when you first picked up a dart. Did you have someone to explain the little details that seasoned players take for granted, or did you have to muddle through alone? You have the opportunity to give that knowledge to a new player, so they can feel confident faster and play better sooner. As in any sport, failing is part of winning – but having a mentor can give a newbie some quick wins that keep them from getting discouraged. And if they’re taught good habits from the start, their technique will soon feel natural, smooth and automatic.
Effective practice always has a goal. And rather than practicing with a partner who’s at a similar level – which risks turning into an impromptu singles game – it’s helpful for new players to practice individually, with you available to check their mistakes and give advice.
If each of us took the time to teach one person how to play, think of how we could grow the game. Once you’re comfortable with one-on-one, maybe widen your scope. Consider offering to teach a free class on how to play darts at your local after-school club, retirement village or even your neighbourhood pub.
Scotty Burnett adds his ideas for helping out new players. “As seasoned players, it is usually easy to spot the darts newbies at your local events or leagues. I encourage you to get involved with them!” Start with etiquette, demystify some of the lingo, and help them with some basic rules. Most importantly, help them choose a quality, affordable set of beginner’s darts – rather than the corroded old junk they found in the attic. Love your darts, love the game.
Cheers to Anne Kramer and Scotty Burnett for the advice. We’re keen to hear from you darts players out there who mentor or coach the newbies. What are the techniques and tips that work best for you?