Every sport has its own set of rules, and darts is no exception. While some protocol codes are etched in stone, others are unwritten and unspoken.
In reality, you might be shocked at the etiquette and how many different rules there are for a bar game, but there’s a reason they’re in place. Following these etiquette guidelines allows dart games to be more fun and enjoyable for everyone, and to prevent uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations.
Practicing correct darts protocol often means knowing and honoring other dart players, the Chalker, and everybody else in the vicinity. After all, just because it began as a bar or pub game doesn’t mean it has to be messy.
#1. Handshakes at the Start and End of Each Game
A firm and friendly handshake should both precede and follow each game of darts. Humans have shaken hands for centuries, and, in the context of darts, it is seen as a sign of respect and mutual appreciation for the game.
Set the mood early on with a cordial and polite handshake, as darts is considered a “gentleman’s” game. When the match is over, offer your opponent a proper handshake and thank them for a well-fought match, whether you win or lose.
In competitive situations, such as a dart tournament, the handshake is necessary for other reasons. The way we shake hands with others can influence how they perceive us when meeting us for the first time. A good handshake is forgotten quickly, but a bad one is recalled for a long time. A strong, self-assured grasp sends a message of quiet trust and resolve to your opponent and teammates.
#2. Learn the Rules and Darts Language
It is a matter of common decency to behave appropriately during the game. Even the best darts players lose games, but this can never be seen as an excuse to be offensive, rude, or insulting to anyone.
If an argument occurs, it is preferable to resolve it rationally, keeping things free of feelings and refraining from overreacting. If your opponent does exceptionally well, instead of being a grumpy loser who tries to torment or distract them, congratulate and be grateful for them. This is all in good sportsmanship and social decency.
If you fall, knock, or run into your adversary unintentionally, apologize and make it plain that it was not on purpose. If you miss a dart, don’t use foul words to console yourself. Even if it isn’t strictly against protocol, it can be annoying and insensitive to some teams, and they might not want to play against you again.
After an excellent visit to the oche from your opponent, it is traditional to say “good darts.” However, if you’re going to say that, wait until your opponent has thrown all three darts. Don’t make noises when someone else is throwing, even encouragements like “yeah,” “ooh,” or “aah.”
If you’re frustrated or upset, don’t let it out on the dartboard while you’re pulling darts or marking your ranking. This is especially important if you’re in a league and playing on a port-a-board with other dartboards on the other side of the wall.
However, just because you’re good to your rival doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be nice to you. After all, this is a game, and don’t forget that it can get quite competitive at times. But there is a distinction to be made between being competitive and being disrespectful.
#3. Score Darts Before Pulling Them Out
If there is a scorekeeper, it is normal for the person who threw the darts to tell their score for it to be registered. If anyone is keeping score, they should be in charge of keeping track of each thrown dart. The scoring is taken care of for you if you have an electronic dartboard.
You’ll have to keep tabs yourself if you don’t have a dart scorer. In case it’s crowded, there are also hand signs you could use to communicate across the room. Also, before you take out your darts, make sure you score them. This way, you can easily see where the dart is on the frame, and you won’t have any arguments over what your score was with each toss.
#4. Move to the Right After Getting Your Darts
So, at this point, the Chalker has marked the score after you have thrown your darts, and you should double-checked the score yourself. As you reach the dartboard, take your darts in your hand and walk away from it to the right of the dartboard.
It is traditional to walk to the right, away from the opposing team or player, and stand behind them, out of reach. Turning directly 180 degrees and heading into the competitor’s view would put you in their line of sight, distracting them. This is poor etiquette.
Also keep an eye out for darts players who might be practicing on the dartboard beside you, if there are multiple dartboards on the same wall.
#5. Be Quiet When Other Players Are Throwing
It is essential to remain silent throughout the match. Throwing darts may be an enjoyable and calming activity, but it can also be a tense and emotionally draining one. Darts is similar to other sports like golf and tennis that depend on precise movements and a high degree of concentration. Dart players, especially those on the professional circuit, are vulnerable to anxiety and high stress.
Attempting to finish a game is very nerve-wracking at these vital moments. Thus, it is always proper etiquette to let your opponents and teammates make their throws in relative quiet. Pub games can be louder than competitive games, so that is to be anticipated, but you don’t need to add to the noise. Keeping the noise down during your opponent’s move shows a desire to be respectful of him or her, and players will want to play with you again if you do.
#6. Pay Attention to Your Turn
Always keep an eye on who’s turn it is next to throw. This is crucial and proper darts etiquette since it helps the game to flow more smoothly and quicker.
Knowing when it’s your turn at the oche would make the dart game easy for you and others. Not paying attention is considered bad etiquette and a sign of disrespect both to the game you are currently playing as well as your opponent.
You should also consider when it is time for doubling out, especially if you are playing in a team. Make sure you have your potential scoring strategy mapped out in your head.
#7. Do Not Step Over the Throw Line
Essentially, this means that you do not lie. (Besides, going across the line isn’t necessarily a good idea.) Granted, the throwing line can sometimes be indicated by an elevated item to make moving across the line difficult, but this isn’t always the case.
As you might be aware, there are few guidelines for darts, but the throwing line is perhaps the most significant one that cannot be tampered with. There’s no real reason to try and cheat by moving a few inches closer to the dartboard, and the risk of being called for a fault far outweighs the reward.
By the same token, you have the right to call out if the opponent’s feet get “muddy” – in other words, if their feet cross the throwing line.
#8. How to Call A Fault
One of the most common issues when it comes to darts is when people intentionally or accidentally go over the oche. You have the freedom to say so, but do it respectfully, and do not hinder their throw. Instead, once they’ve thrown their dart, point it out. Let them realize that if they do it again, you will stop their next throw.
In the overwhelming number of instances, this would suffice. Interrupting your opponent’s throw is typically poor etiquette, so don’t do that the first time. However, if they do not correct their actions during their next attempt, you will have to disrupt their throw. If none of this works, speak with the scorer and request that anything they score be marked as zero.
#9. Keep It Respectful
It is very important to always show respect to the scorer. Don’t be rude, mainly when they write anything on the wrong side of the scoreboard. If they are a little late with the calculation or make an error, don’t be rude. Never make passive-aggressive remarks. If anything, they’re doing you a favor because so many darts players forget how frustrating and exhausting it is to keep score.
In reality, when it’s their time to score in some tournaments, many darts players would be highly nervous. Some teams assign young players to scorekeeping merely because it is convenient to get them used to the role. Recognize that they are under the same, if not greater, burden than the players, and offer them your assistance if they need it.
#10. Don’t be Afraid to Ask For and Give Advice
If you’re involved in a casual game and up against a more seasoned team, don’t be afraid to seek help, and if you do, pay attention to what they have to offer. It’s not all about reaching the treble 20s, but don’t be shocked if they recommend you aim for a particular part of the dartboard.
#11. Don’t be a Bad Winner or Loser
Take note of what the other team has done. Accept defeat with humility if the other team has defeated you. Remember, you’d be happier if you threw an outstanding game, so be happy for the other player as well.
This demonstrates that you are a good sport. But if you are not calm while you’re throwing your darts, you’ll be more likely to miss. Many teams have lost matches solely because they were enraged, and their performance deteriorated as a result.
#12. How to Play with Partners
If they are assigned to an inferior teammate in a blind draw, players often express their displeasure. Making derogatory comments about other teams will only serve to make them feel uncomfortable.
It will also cause them to have critical thoughts about you. Nobody likes a poor reputation. Thus, this results in difficulty attracting players for other matches and makes people feel uncomfortable when they’re playing with you.
Encouragement and a good outlook go a long way. And if you have a poorer teammate, remember your etiquette, and darts can be a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved. Consider what it would be like to be on the receiving end of a frustrated partner. It’s much more challenging to play well in that case.
When faced with an unfamiliar or inexperienced teammate, strike up a dialogue with him or her. The first goal should be to provide a relaxing and fun environment for you, your partner, and your opponents. It’s also important not to get enraged if your partner takes a bad shot.
Instead, clarify why and what would have been the better shot; your teammate would likely enjoy the guidance. Another option is to have a tactics discussion before each round. Taking away the uncertainty will help younger and less experienced players relax and develop their game.
Darts is regarded as a “gentleman’s game.” Players, scorekeepers, and fans are supposed to behave as such. Although certain players do not adhere to the rules listed above, it is generally found that the majority of players do, and therefore if you don’t you’ll stick out.
Stick to these basic guidelines, and you’ll have a lot of fun playing and make friends rather than enemies. Remember these basic principles of darts etiquette, and you’ll be appreciated and accepted by darters of all skill levels.