There are lots of factors to consider when playing darts including the equipment and the way you throw. One thing that’s affected by both of these, is the angle of entry of the dart into the board. But why is this important? In this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of different angles of entry and how it’s affected.
What is the Angle of Entry?
The angle of entry refers to how flat or tilted the dart is when it lands in the board. A darts angle of entry should be as flat as possible or ideally less than 10 degrees upwards, meaning it is still relatively flat but the flight is tilted upwards slightly.
However, many professional darts players do not have a <10 degree angle of entry. Phil Taylor for example, sometimes had his darts enter the board tilted slightly downwards, however it was usually pretty flat. Some professionals also have a steep angle of entry such as Michael van Gerwen who lands his darts at around 30-40 degrees. There are pros and cons to each type of angle.
There are three types of angles:
- Flat angle
- Flight-up angle
- Flight-down angle
A dart with a flat angle of entry is considered perfect. Phil Taylor is a good example of a player who’s darts landed very flat in the board. The advantage of this is that it does not obstruct any other segments and gives the player a clear view of the board. Another advantage of this angle is that it is very stable. Darts which enter the board in the flat position are unlikely to be knocked out of the board by other incoming darts.
- Darts can be stacked over the top or underneath each other
- Very stable
A dart with a flight-up angle is quite common. Some players consider a slight upwards angle of less than 10-20 degrees the ideal angle of entry since the darts are usually very stable in this position and are unlikely to be knocked out of the board by other darts. The issue with a dramatic upwards angle is that it can obstruct other segments on the board. For example, if you are going for a treble and the dart lands underneath it with the flight pointing upwards, this can make it hard to hit the treble.
- Darts can be stacked underneath each other
Darts which enter the board with a “flight-down” angle can be unstable and are the most likely to get knocked out of the board by incoming darts. Also, the flight position can obstruct other segments in the board. This is a particular problem when going for a treble , as if you land your first dart in the segment above, it makes it harder for other darts to land underneath it without knocking it out of the board or being obstructed. It is also a problem if the dart lands in a double segment.
- Darts can be stacked over the top of each other
- Less stable
What Affects the Angle of Entry?
The angle of entry of a dart is affected by the grip position, throwing style, flight shape, stem length, barrel weight and weight-distribution. Larger flights and lighter darts with a short stem will tend to sit upwards in the board, whereas smaller flights and heavier darts with a long stem will lie flatter.
Getting the darts to have a flatter angle of entry relies on a balance between all these factors. It usually takes a lot of trial and error to change the angle from up or down to a flatter angle as it will involve changing flights, barrels and stems in a lot of cases.
|Gripping close to the stem
|Gripping close to the point
Adjusting the Angle of Entry
If you want to change the angle of entry of your darts then look at the following variables in this order:
- Grip position
- Flight shape
- Stem length
- Dart weight
Let’s take a look at each factor individually.
Adjusting where you hold your darts is the easiest and cheapest way to adjust the angle of entry and in some cases this may be the only thing you need to change.
Gripping the dart closer to the stem will cause the angle of entry to be greater and the flight to tilt upwards more, compare to gripping the dart closer to the point which will cause the angle of entry to be flatter.
The only reason you wouldn’t want adjust your grip position is if you are finding it difficult to adjust. It may take a bit of time to get used to the different position depending on how long you’ve been playing, and at the end of the transition period, your game may have significantly improved because of this tweak. However, for some players it’s not worth messing about changing the grip position because it may be too much of a change and poorly affect the performance.
For example, Michael van Gerwen has a flight-up angle of entry, but there’s no reason for him to change it since it’s working really well for him. Adjusting the grip position at this stage would be very detrimental and lead to a lack of consistency.
If you’re settled with how you’re gripping the dart, then look at your darts instead to adjust the angle of entry, rather than how you hold them as this is a far less dramatic change.
Flights are the cheapest component of the dart and make a massive impact on the angle of entry so it’s recommended to try this first when altering your system.
Larger flights such as the standard and shape flights, have more drag which causes the trajectory to be more curved.
This curve causes the dart to angle upwards by the time it hits the board. Smaller flights such as super kites, slims and pears tend to cause the dart to travel with a flatter trajectory, so the angle of entry is usually much flatter.
Looking to find the best dart flight shape to improve your game? Check out my complete guide to flight shapes to learn everything you need to know.
Short stems cause the dart to tilt upwards at the flight and create a steeper angle of entry compared to longer stems which cause the dart to sit flatter. This is due to the way stem length impacts the balance point of the dart.
- Longer stems shift the balance point further towards the flight of the dart.
- Shorter stems shift the balance point further towards the point of the dart.
If you want your dart to sit upwards with a steeper angle of entry, having the balance point closer to the tip of the dart is advantageous, hence why a shorter stem would be selected.
There are 6 popular stem lengths:
- Micro: 12.5-15 mm
- Extra Short: 27-32 mm
- Short: 34-37 mm
- In-Between: 39-41 mm
- Medium: 42-49 mm
- Long: 50-65 mm
If you’re currently using anything in-between or longer, then switching to a short stem is a good idea if you’re trying to tilt your flights to tilt upwards. If you’re trying to get your darts to land with a shallower angle of entry, try increasing the stem length. You don’t need to be too dramatic here, changing the length by 5-10 mm is usually enough to make a fair bit of difference.
This has a big impact on the angle of entry, but I’ve put it further down on the priority list of variables to adjust simply because the barrels are the most expensive component of the dart.
Lighter darts will have a steeper angle of entry compared to heavier darts which have a flatter angle of entry. However, it’s also important to consider how the weight is distributed. Most of the weight of the dart comes from the barrel, and there are three types of weight distribution to consider:
Front-weighted darts will cause there to be a steeper angle of entry because the centre of mass is more concentrated at the point which causes the dart to tilt upwards at the flight. Rear-weighted darts lean back more so sit flatter and have a shallower angle of entry. Centre-weighted darts of course sit between the two.
Check out my article on front vs rear weighted darts to learn everything else you need to know.
Considering Your System as a Whole
There are so many factors to consider when choosing your darts system, and the ideal setup to get perfectly flat darts, or different angles will vary depending on the way that your throwing style interacts with the different components of the dart. At the end of the day, the angle of entry is irrelevant if you’re getting good scores. So, don’t feel the need to make adjustments if you’re happy with your results just because your mate reckons your darts aren’t flat enough!
When you make tweaks to your darts, it won’t just affect the angle of entry and it’ll likely take some getting used to. Make sure you keep an eye on your scores when you’re changing anything about your darts. If you want a flatter angle of entry so have chosen larger flights, but this doesn’t suit your throwing style, then it’s not the best thing to change.
Like I mentioned earlier, it may take a bit of trial and error until you get settled with your system it’s all part of the fun!
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