Darts is a game that can be extremely competitive and challenging, but it can also be enjoyable and rewarding when played well. In order to improve your darts game, you need to focus on your finishes. The harsh reality for ’01’ games means you can be amazing at scoring high but if you can’t checkout, you’ll have trouble winning.
Checkouts, outshot, and finishes are the same things – it’s how you win games of 301 and 501. This article will provide tips for perfecting both of these aspects of the game. Practice regularly and you will see a big improvement in your darts skills.
What is a Checkout Chart?
Checkout charts are charts that list possible finishes for 2 and 3 dart finishes in a range of numbers.
The math of darts can take a bit of getting used to and if it’s a constant issue, checkout charts can be a great way to speed up the learning process.
The trick is to use it to help you learn and not just tell you the answer. When you’re looking for a finish, try and remember it/ work it out before checking the chart.
This will help you learn it faster.
Why Do I Need to Learn How to Checkout?
Having to pause your dart game to think of which numbers to aim for can become a real hindrance to your game rhythm. If you know the options immediately, you’ll then be able to strategize which is the best option.
There’s also not wanting to hold the game up. If you are playing competitively your opponent may not be willing to help if you can’t figure out the best finish. Knowing your finishes makes the game much smoother and more enjoyable to play.
How to Strategize Your Finishes
Let’s look at the example of how to check out with 50 points left.
There are 2 main options here:
- single 10 then double 20
- single 18 then double 16
If you are under pressure and want the easier option, go for 10 and double 20 (double 20 is also known as ‘double tops’). With double top if you miss and hit 20, you can go for double 10.
The second option to go for 18 then double 16 is more of a play if you have some more space and your opponent is lagging behind. There is perhaps more danger with this option because if you hit treble 18, you bust, and your turn is over.
However, double 16 is a good double as it’s ‘splitabble’ – ie if you hit the single you are left with an even number – double 8, double 4, double 2, and even double 1! Let’s hope you don’t need that many!
Remember your preference might be dictated by your game style and what you like to hit. If you are great at finishing on double 16 as opposed to double 20 then go for that instead.
There is of course the 3rd option in this scenario and that is to checkout with the bullseye. A tricky shot for sure as the bullseye is the smallest double on the board and not usually recommended. However, if you have a good eye with the bull and you are on track for a record checkout – you have to go for it!
Check out our article on Darts Training Aids and Practice Tips.
General Tips For Finishing
There are lots of factors in play when it comes to darts finishing strategy. They can be different depending on a player’s strengths and weaknesses. However, there are some things you can keep in mind for improving your outshot.
- Learn the finishes – this will help your game go smoothly and keep you one step ahead of the opposition.
- Try to never throw your first dart near a treble that will bust you out – if you accidentally hit that treble, your turn is over and and your opponemt could checkout on his/her turn.
- Practice your finishes – different targets on the board require specific muscle memory and the more you practice the better you’ll get.
- Use practice drills using the whole board – it’s important to practice targets all around the board to develop a complete set of finishing skills.
- Go for ‘splittables’ if possible.
Realize that some doubles are harder to hit than others – eg double 5 is particularly tricky – so you would only attempt to hit a double 5 if you have only 1 dart in hand. If you have 3 darts, go for 2 then double 4 instead – this is generally a much easier and safer option.
Drills to Practice Finishing
Practice is so important and before you get started, make sure to warm up. Use the bullseye and take at least 5 mins to warm up your arm before you start practicing.
To recap – ‘splittable’ doubles are even numbers. Essentially if you hit the single of the desired double by mistake, you have an even number left and so still have a chance to checkout.
Start with double tops – hitting short to double 10 and then double 5.
Work your way around all the splittables.
100 darts to each double. Keep track of how many you land. Notice your pattern of preference -eg for many right-handed players, double 8 is an easy double to hit. Not only are you practicing your focus and aim on a particular double, but you learn more about what doubles you prefer.
Practice Double Double Finishes
Something that has become more popular in recent years is players finishing on double-doubles.
The main reason for this is they have realized that the target area of a double, is considerably larger than a treble. This gives you a greater chance of hitting it.
Eg 76 points left – the charts will tell you to go triple 20 then double 8. However, the ‘double double’ finish option could take you to double 20 then double 18.
Practicing and perfecting some favorite ‘double double’ finishes, could give your game a substantial edge.
Finishing well is probably the hardest part of the ’01’ darts games and by ignoring it, you’re missing out on a hugely important part of the game.
Remember when practicing to keep as many aspects of your throwing environment and your throw itself the same, to minimize variations in the skill and also help your muscle memory develop effectively.
How do you practice your checkouts?
You might also like our article on How to 9 Dart Finish in 501.
Sue has been playing darts since her 20’s when she played in weekly tournaments and she enjoys writing about darts. She’s also a great teacher, and she enjoys helping others learn how to play the game well. When Sue isn’t throwing darts, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
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