Sportsmanship: the good sport’s guide to playing darts

Sportsmanship: the good sport’s guide to playing darts

Just for a minute, we’re going to leave technique, practice routines and discussions about the right darts gear behind. This post is all about attitude, etiquette and sportsmanship. Although, what we say here applies equally to female and male players.

Generally, all dart players are good sportsmen and women. They’ll shake hands at the start of a match and wish their opponent good luck. At the end of the game, no matter who won, they’ll shake again, with a friendly “good game” or “nice shooting”.

But sometimes you do hear about times when the anger monster rears its ugly head – from a former world #1 punching a dartboard in the World Championships, to a now 2-time world champion walking off stage during a match in full view of the TV cameras. Poor sportsmanship can be a result of being super passionate about our game. But you can be focused on winning, and still be calm and respectful with other players and officials.

Anyone who’s toed the oche and thrown a game winning dart into a clutch double knows how competitive this game is. And with this level of emotion, it’s easy to lose your head. Good sportsmanship starts with learning how to lose. Whether you win or lose, it’s about taking your opponent’s hand and wishing them well in their next match. If the other player bested you, live with it. You’ll not only get a reputation for being a good sport, but it’ll help you stay relaxed and throw better. Don’t lose a game by getting angry. 

Sportsmanship is about how you handle adversity, and how you motivate others around you. Former American pro darts player Scotty Burnett put it this way, “I think good sportsmanship starts with our peers, wherever they may come from. From the local pub player, to the full-blown tour pro. Good sportsmanship is something that is frequently overlooked for popularity. Good sportsmanship is beating someone without crushing them. It's helping those that ask for your help to improve their game. It may be something as simple as watching a match and cheering on a good game.”

Good sportsmanship begins with the right attitude, but it’s also important to learn the ‘unspoken rules’ around darts. If you’re new to the game or haven’t cut your tournament teeth yet, here are some of the key points of darts etiquette. Most of it is common sense, and ‘doing unto others’.

  • The number 1 rule: don’t be a distraction.
  • Don’t talk to the player who is shooting, or make a remark about each dart thrown. Wait until all three darts have been thrown to give encouragement or recognise some great playing.
  • Do not make sudden movements where the shooter can see you – either in front of them or in their peripheral vision. Pretend you’re playing a game of ‘statues’ while a player is throwing. In fact, try to stand behind the shooter, or out of their line of sight.
  • No one but the scorekeeper or a teammate should tell the shooter what’s been hit, and then only if the shooter asks.
  • Never, ever tell another player what to hit next.
  • To avoid arguments, score your darts before you pull them. By writing down the score while the darts are still in the board, can show your opponent what you threw, in case of doubt or discrepancy.
Now go forth, play a good game, and have a great time!