What to do When You are Stuck in a Rut

Anyone who has ever thrown a dart has gone through times when they feel as though they are lucky just to hit the board, simply not enjoying the game as a result. Even the best players experience ruts, it’s just a case of re-finding your love for the game.

Darts can be the cruellest of sports. One minute you are hitting treble 20s for fun and, the next, you can barely throw straight. One bad dart turns to two and three, then you are questioning every little intricate detail of your setup and throwing action. Before you know it, your opponent has checked out when you haven’t even broken 400.

Many players hate practising and when you are in the middle of a rut and your confidence is low, it is even worse. Spending hours on the board when nothing is going right is a form of mental torture that is probably doing you and your game more harm than good.

So, what are you to do?

Back to Basics

Strip your game back to the basics. Regardless of the level of play you are capable of, going back to basics is the best thing that you can do when your confidence is low. Games that beginners to darts, such as around the clock (aiming for single segments of the board) can help to slowly build your confidence back up.

Focusing on the basics, going right back to square one, will remind you that you can play. This is less about the physical rewards of practising, but more about the mental rewards, as you go from missing and struggling to hitting and achieving. As your confidence levels begin to build, you are likely beginning to throw the dart a lot more fluidly than you had been – this is because you are starting to stop questioning each aspect of your action.

Gradually Increase the Intensity

With better confidence in your throw and aim, then you can begin to turn up the difficulty level, but not too much. At this stage, you will be feeling a lot better about your game – but you are still in a fragile place where the work you have put in so far could be undone. You don’t want to jump straight back in at the deep end having only just started swimming at the shallow end.

If you have been playing around the clock on singles, consider adding in new stipulations. Before going for doubles or trebles, stipulate that the dart must hit the outer single segment (the segment below the treble doesn’t count) and/o every missed dart puts you back a target. Whatever rules you add are completely up to you as nobody knows where your game is better than you do.

Practice should always be challenging, but as you bid to regain your confidence it should not be disheartening. The goal here is to remind yourself that you can play the game, which is why gradually increasing the intensity and difficulty of your routine is a must.

Still Struggling?

Are you still struggling even after stripping your practice right back to the basics? Then it may be in your best interests to put the darts away. Not forever, but for a few days to a week (depending on how often you normally play) just to reset and refresh. When you are in such a rut that you are struggling with basic drills, or that you just can’t seem to find a happy place in your throw, time away from the dartboard may well be the best thing you can do.

This may seem counterproductive as you rightly believe that practice makes perfect, but over-practicing can have an adverse effect. Practising to re-find your form and confidence is different to normal practice. If you aren’t enjoying throwing, you aren’t going to improve, and your confidence isn’t coming back any time soon.

Following a sabbatical, spend half an hour or so just throwing darts at a board. You don’t necessarily have to aim at a particular target, play any practice games or legs. Just throwing at the board will allow your body and arm to fall back into a comfortable grip and action. Remind yourself why you love playing darts in the first place, enjoy the activity and, from there, slowly begin to work your way back up.


Away from practising, this may just be the best time to reinvent your game. Many players are constantly tinkering with their setups, forever using different styles of barrels, shafts, and flights. Take two-time PDC world champion Peter Wright, for example, who is well-known for changing darts often mid-tournament – and still able to take home the top prize. Other players have used the same set of darts for years.

When players are struggling, for many it is natural to think that a change of setup is in order. While you may point to the blaming tools analogy, it is important to remember how much a mental game darts is. If there is anything you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable, then go ahead and do it.

Experimenting with different darts and setups is healthy. Doing so allows you to find out more about your game, learning what works and doesn’t work for you. After playing around for a few hours, you may just find that what you already had is what works best and, through that, you may start to feel a lot more comfortable without changing anything in the end.

A dip in form is natural in sport, whether that be darts or anything else. Find a place where you feel comfortable in yourself, as well as the darts you are using, and begin the rebuilding process at a pace that suits you.

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