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Bless ‘Em All

Posted by UniBoffin at 09:12 on 12th February 2013 in UniBlog

Bless ‘Em All

One of the really good things about darts is that most people can compete on more-or-less equal terms. Male or female, old or young, large or small, you can still be a top class player.

However, I included the words “more-or-less” there because of something Glen mentioned in his post to my last Uniblog, which was “I am 5 ft tall and often have difficulties getting my darts to the top of the board”. So the topic for today (thanks, Glen!) is just that, are shorter dartists at a disadvantage? And, if so, how much of one and what can be done to mitigate it?

Now I’ve been going a bit easy on you folks recently with regard to the scientific content of these blogs, so I’m going to try and make up for it today by including a few simple trajectory sums at the end of this one. But I shall understand if those who aren’t into applied maths skip them. Mind you, those who are into applied maths might want to do the same because I take a few dodgy liberties with it. Still, it’s all in aid of the laudable goals of simplicity and brevity (and printability), so I forgive myself, even if my old professor might not have.

Anyway, my slightly dodgy bit of maths suggests that, for a dart thrown at a typical horizontal speed of 6m/s to hit the board at the same height as it is released, it needs to be thrown upward at around 16degs (to show the maths isn’t all that dodgy, proper computations give an answer of 15.3degs). The sums can also be taken a bit further to show that, to hit 0.3m (so around a foot) higher, requires around another 9degs of angle. Alternatively, to keep the same angle, it can be shown that the dart would need to be thrown at around 8.8m/s.

So a player who’s 5ft rather than 6ft will, like for like, have to throw at more than a 50% greater angle or with nearly 50% more velocity. Either way, this could induce around 50% more error. And that’s not allowing for the taller player being able to lean further forward and hence reduce the dart’s flight distance. Question is now, can anything be done about that?

Well, this is where maths initially just leads to answers that are pure common sense. To start with, one could forget misplaced pride and aim at 19s rather than 20s – statistically, ignoring any individual aiming preferences, and because 7 and 3 are more than 5 and 1, it can be shown that you need to have a 3-dart scoring average over 80 before aiming at treble 20 is any more productive than aiming a treble 19 - if you average below 60, it’s less.

But if one must aim for the top, although releasing the dart as high as is comfortable could help, the key aspect is throw speed. If a shorter player can throw fast with control, they will be at less of a disadvantage. And here the maths shows something maybe not so obvious.

Nowhere in my “in vacuo” sums below does the mass of the dart appear (look up Galileo and cannonballs for why!), so a player using whatever weight of dart naturally lands highest up the board for them may help to mitigate the effect of any lack of height. In this context I have noticed that, perhaps counter-intuitively, many players throw a heavy dart faster than a lighter one, but that’s a matter of personal throw ergonomics, not trajectory dynamics.

Finally, an observation to encourage Glen and any other shorter players out there - Phil Taylor is just 5ft 8 (and, interestingly, now plays with a heavy-for-a-professional 26gm dart). Like I said to start with, long; short, or tall, the game of darts can, in the words of the old song, bless ‘em all!

Q&As

Eddie & Dart Release and Spotlight Candidates
Eddie wants to know what I think is the best way to release a dart - palm open or palm closed, point up or point down. Unfortunately the answer to the second part of that is simple but rather unhelpful – whichever works best for you! That said, from a theoretical aerodynamics perspective, the point should ideally be slightly up at release so that the axis of the dart is in line with the initial upward angle of the throw. However, as I’ve said before, there can be psychological advantages for “ready, aim, fire” players (like The Power) if the dart is released flat, or even point down. As for palm orientation, that I can be more definite about: sorry if it wrecks your throw trying to change, Eddie, but I contend it should pretty much face forward to allow wrist cocking and uncocking to operate properly. If your palm starts that way but ends up facing inward on the follow-through, you have “supinated” your forearm, which can cause lateral inaccuracy.

As for Eddie’s nominations for my occasional technique feature, at the moment I’m just putting the spotlight on players I’ve worked with, which at the moment excludes both MvG and Gary Anderson. Still, in the case of the latter at least, we’ll see what the future holds.

Jon & Dartsnutz
Thanks for the recommendation, Jon – I look forward to hearing from any forum members.

Jeff & Scott Waites
Yes, Jeff, I agree that Scott’s and Barney’s grip and release have distinct similarities – I think the “jump” you mention in Barney’s is just because his throw is slower and a little less direct.

Glen & Optimising for Height and Silver Comets
Hope I’ve answered some of your question in the main blog, Glen (in competitive play, it’s certainly worth considering the point about 19s!). Apart from that, which dart or set-up will help you at the top of the board is, as I said, really too much a function of your individual throw to be identified by anything other than a bit of trial and error. I wouldn’t worry too much about changing the shaft/flight set-up to start with, experiment more with barrel weight and shape, then find a set-up that suits. Here’s where Optimiser maybe can help - and some allowance for shorter player height can be made by selecting a “back” stance.

As for your Silver Comets, I well remember your post about your collection of vintage Silver Comets and it’s good to know you approve of the new replicas. Replacement shafts and flights for these are available and are listed on this website – just type the catalogue number 78608 or 68502 into the search box and click the resultant Silver Comet link. In terms of pure aerodynamics, incidentally, not much wrong there, although the aluminium shaft might be a little heavy for some players and I could fret a bit about the sharp trailing edge of those flights and their eyes!

Adrian & Carbon Shafts
Lucky I saw your question, Adrian, as I don’t often check older blogs for new posts. As for an answer about whether short Unicorn carbon fibre stems are on the way, I haven’t heard that they are and the stiffness of the material would anyway be less of an advantage over conventional plastic in a shorter length. That said, the Bantam Carbon is designed to be cut to a length to suit the player, so that might be the one for you!

Martin & Gordon’s Not A Moron
We’re not the only ones who agree on that, Martin- when I wrote the last blog I hadn’t remembered that “Julie and Gordon” had released a record also contradicting Jilted John way back in 1978!


……….And now for sum dodgy maths!
Consider a dart thrown at a horizontal velocity of v.m/s and released s metres from the board. Aerodynamic drag is pretty much insignificant in this context (we’re talking losing less than a tenth of a m/s), so we can approximate with the “in vacuo” equations (ie no with aerodynamic forces) and say the time of flight t will be close to s/v seconds. In that time the dart will drop due to gravity g(t.x.t)/2 where g is gravitational acceleration in m/s/s.

Now for a 2.37m oche we can take s to be around 2m to allow for the release point. A typical value for v might be 6m/s and g is about 10, so t=1/3secs and the gravity drop around 5/9m.

Therefore, to hit the board at the same height it’s released, the dart must be given an initial upward velocity of u=(5/9)/t.=.15/9m/s. If it’s not too large, the angle this requires (in radians) is approximately given by u/v, or in degrees about 60u/v.=.60(15/9)/6, which is around 16degs.

There are 2 comments to this post

Posted by Warren at 00:02 on 13th February 2013

Hi UniBoffin

Well my friend, I have stuck with the shape ( you know which I am talking about) that as designed but I have thrown my calculations out the window.

41mm long points on front loaded barrel with medium stems and BigWing flights.
Totally different to what I have came up with many times in the Unilab Optimiser as each time I selected something slightly different I still nearly ended up with the same selection which is totally different to what I have. My setup works for me so I am happy, just a few alterations on the barrel would suit.
Happy 2013 UniBoffin

Posted by Jeff Cruz at 03:11 on 20th February 2013

This kind of gave a bit more light on me as I stand 5'4.5", my 3-dart average is around 65-70 but there are times I can string 12-15 dart finishes during practice...

As mentioned the answer to Eddie's query, "whatever works for you" still appeals to me but I do experiment from time to time shaft-flight combos...I'm still sticking with my 23g barrels, as I have yet to buy me a heavier one which is appealing to me at the moment...

any suggestions? Unilab Selector suggest Barry Twomlow Legend 24g, but somehow, it doesnt appeal to me...

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