I, personally, have a difficult time making myself practice. I get ‘bored’ quickly so I have come up with the following as a practice routine. Naturally, for the newer player, there is no substitute for ‘pounding the board’ for hours (and, yes, I did this for years when I started) but am now at the point where I rely on league (2 nights a week) and tournaments to stay sharp.

This is a routine that should only take a short time-maybe 20-30 minutes or so-but should be repeated often during a several hour period of time. I have tried to develop it so it will help out for tournament play. At first, take as much time as you may want with any routine until you feel comfortable with each of them……later, only allow yourself a few ‘warm up’ darts before starting your routine. This will simulate tournament conditions.

First, throw a few turns at the 20, 19, Bull, i.e. targets that you feel you use frequently to just ‘loosen up your arm’.

Next we’ll ‘practice’ Cricket. I call this routine “28” but you can use any number depending on your skill level. As you get better, the number you will use will go up, but for the beginner, start with a lower number, such as 14 or 21. Here is how it’s played—

Throw 3 darts at each cricket number, in order, counting the marks you hit on each number and continue the count until you get to the Bull. Your total number of marks is your final score….and THAT is the score you want to beat next time. You are, in essence, playing against yourself. Example-your first three dart are thrown at the 20 and you hit 3 singles…you score is ‘3’. Then you throw three darts at the 19 and hit a triple and a single 19. Now your score is ‘7’, i.e. the 3 mark from the 20 and the 4 mark from the 19.

Continue through the cricket numbers, in order, finishing with three darts at the Bull. Remember, you only get three darts at each number. I try to hit, at least, 4 marks each time, thus the number “28’ but everyone should set their own goals.

This is a good routine to measure your accomplishments at hitting the Cricket numbers. Strategy is a whole different topic that will be addressed later.

Here strategy is not as important as in Cricket. Just get to zero before your opponent!

However, you can’t get to zero without that ever elusive DOUBLE! So, here we want to concentrate on doubles. I call this game ‘27’ (my birthday is on the 27th) but you can start with any number you like AS LONG AS IT IS AN ODD NUMBER! The weaker the player, the higher the number you would want to start with. Perhaps 51..or 71……whatever you feel comfortable with. Remember, this is supposed to be FUN and helpful to your game.

Here is how I play “27”. The only numbers that count in this routine are the doubles….EVERY ONE OF THEM! And in this routine you will throw at them all, in order….BUT you only get three darts at each one!

Ready to play? Here we go….I would start with a score of 27. My first three darts are thrown at the Double 1. If I don’t hit any, I have to subtract 2 from my score (the value of the double I just missed). If I hit one dart in the double 1, then I add 2 to my score, If I hit two out of the three darts in the double 1 then I add 4 to my score. So, you can earn as many points each turn as the double you hit, but can only lose the value of the double once – even if all three darts are missed.

Let’s say I start with 27 and hit one Double 1, then one Double 2, miss all three darts at the Double 3, and hit two out of three darts at the Double 4……what is my score????

Answer- one dart in the double 1 makes my score 29-(I get 2 points)

one dart in the double 2 makes my score 33-(I get 4 points)

zero darts in the Double 3-makes my score 27 (I lose 6 points-the value of the

double I just missed)

two darts in the Double 4 makes my score 43! (I get to add 8 points twice-

the value of each dart I hit in my target.)

And just continue around the board…at EVERY double….only three darts each turn.

Keep a running total score depending on the doubles you hit and miss...your score should always be an odd number as you are starting out with an odd number and adding and/or subtracting an even number (the value of a double) every time. This means, if you miss a lot, you may go into the negative numbers, but that is OK….just keep playing and try to get back into the positive numbers. The ‘bigger’ doubles are yet to be thrown! Just don’t give up! If you find yourself going into the negative numbers often, start with a higher odd number! The last target is the Bull and it counts the same as every other Double on the board. (No, two single bulls DO NOT equal a Double Bull!) Your final score is the score you want to beat next time you play this routine.

This is a good routine to make the player practice EVERY double! Sure, you prefer some doubles over others, but you’ll need every one at some time or another. Let’s say you’re playing a 501 game and you have 18 left. Your first dart hits the 9 so you’re thinking, “OK, single 1, double 4 for the game.” But your next dart hits the triple 1 leaving you 6! This wasn’t your plan, but if you’ve practiced every double, you can mentally adjust and take a shot at it. If you haven’t thrown a dart at the double 3 in 6 months, you may wish you had used this practice routine.

This is THE double game---Double On and Double Out----- The best way, I think, to practice this game is to play “Perpetual 301”. Simply double on and play the 301 game down as usual….when you get to a finish, the double you hit to end the game is also the beginning double of your next game. For instance, you have 56 left. You throw single 16, single 20 (missing a shot a double 20) and then hit the double 10. That double 10 is your start for the next game and you now have 281 left, Keep playing and try to leave yourself different finishes so you practice different combination outs.

Good luck and Enjoy. I hope this helps ………………..

MORE PRACTICE ROUTINES

OK………..we all know that it’s much more fun to practice with others so we will travel down that road now. The best practice is that you can take on is that when you are preparing for a specific competition. This is my opinion, anyway, as you will have a specific ‘format’ in mind and concentrate on that particular element of the game.

At this point I would like to share a practice routine Tony Thompson, Pat Carrigan, Joe Henneghan, Dick Rehm (pronounced ‘Ream’) and several others joined in with me in preparation for the Las Vegas Open and is, I believe, good practice for all ADO tournaments. It is a well-rounded basic practice routine that adds just a little bit of structure just for fun. This routine forces players to play both the competitive games, i.e. cricket and 501, rather than only one game……301 is thrown in for ‘Double Practice’.

The format is constructed in sets of 5 games. The first person to win 3 games wins that set. Playing rules are pretty straight forward….coin toss to determine who’s option it is to throw first for the ‘Bull’. Winner of the ‘Bull’ selects the first game to be played and goes first.

Players will ‘bull up’ before each game because the winner of the ‘Bull’ will pick which game will be played next and start the game. The first three games must include all three games—501, Cricket and 301. This way, even if someone wins 3 games straight, the players will still have played all three games. Should the set go to the 4th game, one of the games will be played again (winner of the ‘Bull’ selects which one) and if a 5th game is played only the game played 4th cannot be played again. It’s actually quite simple, but it adds a bit of structure to the routine. When we have several players practicing, we pair off, play a set and switch around so the ‘winners’ play the other ‘winners’. This doesn’t mean the ‘non-winner’ gets any less practice. They will just play another ‘non-winner’. Everyone continues to play for as long as they can last. And, yes, endurance SHOULD be pushed and tested here. If anyone is fortunate enough to make it into the staged rounds, some big tournaments…and all PDC tournaments will use extended formats, i.e, best of 11, 13 or 15 sets under TV light generating a lot of heat on stage! It can definitely be physically draining. BE PREPARED!

For a competition such as the U.S. Open, scheduled to be played this May in Conn. in place of last year’s World Series of Darts, I try to organize practices that are geared specifically towards that competition. This can be an incredibly important aspect! For example, last year, in preparation for the World Series of Darts, I practiced throwing ‘low dart’ games –only scoring the number of darts thrown- with several others in order to prepare for the Friday night madness. And it paid off….I qualified in with a 13 dart game…making me the only woman to make it past the initial phase of the competition.

Since the format this year in Conn. begins with a best of 3 games, best of 5 sets format, ALL 501, that is the format we’re using to practice now. And I strongly suggest everyone get practicing NOW so we (the U.S.) can really make a great showing this year!

Good Luck to all………….see you in Conn. In May!