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Marshal Wade

Posted by UniBoffin at 23:24 on 12th November 2012 in UniBlog

Marshal Wade

Call me a luddite, or maybe just anyone from the early 19th century, but so far I’ve mostly managed to avoid submitting to the siren song of social media. Nonetheless, despite being on neither Facebook nor Twitter, when Unicorn post notice of my blogs thereon, I must admit to sometimes having a crafty peek at the responses.

And those responses, I have observed with absolutely no surprise whatsoever, rather indicate that my “Technique Spotlight” features (suggested by reader Eddie, so thanks again, Eddie – no news yet on those unknown player’s darts, by the way) have been somewhat more widely appreciated than any of my dissertations on the technicalities of dart flight dynamics.

It is thus with the weary sigh of the thwarted academic that I shall bow to public opinion and once again focus a blog on the technique of a particular player, not once mentioning such fascinating and educational topics as overturning moment slope coefficients. Apart from just then, obviously.

So which particular player to choose? Well, during my time with Unicorn I have had the privilege of working with quite a few, all of whom have, without exception, been extremely talented. Of the three I’ve reported on already, John Lowe and Phil Taylor combine that talent with solid technique and a fearsome mental attitude, whereas Barney has at least as much talent and, if not a better, maybe a more aesthetic technique, even if he sometimes has to work harder at maintaining the same level of focus.

Perhaps the logical next choice, in terms of PDC rankings if nothing else, for a Team Unicorn player to join this trio under my microscope is someone whose technique may not be quite as aesthetic as Barney’s, but whose pure natural talent is second to none. In those terms many would rank “Marshal” James Wade alongside a certain “Mighty” Ade Lewis – a factor which perhaps gives extra spice to their rivalry?

Oh, and if you’re wondering why those novel one-use sobriquets in place of the usual “The Machine” and “Jackpot”, it’s because, in trying to think of an entertaining title for this blog, I was unwisely but irresistibly drawn to an old and best-forgotten verse of the UK national anthem. I’ll leave you to look it up if you’re that interested – or a Scottish Nationalist campaign manager. Hmm, wonder how Gary Anderson would like being called “rebellious”?

Moving swiftly on, after a brief diversion to respond to Mike’s post to my last blog by saying that, if he needs a forward-gripped Sigma, he could take a look at Sigma 4s, please allow me to present you with the following analysis of James “The Machine” Wade, someone who I much enjoyed meeting and I hope you will enjoy hearing about.

But one final plea - in the unlikely event someone is out there who would have instead preferred to learn all about overturning moment slope coefficients (there, didn’t mention them once, mentioned them twice), don’t blame me, blame Facebook.

No doubt it’s what Ned Ludd would have done.


If there’s one single word that comes to mind when describing James’s style, that word is certainly “natural”. On form he makes the game look ridiculously easy, but behind that deceptive ease are some classic elements of good technique – plus one or two that maybe aren’t so classic!

So let’s start with that left-handed grip. The key feature has something in common with Barney’s (see two blogs ago) in that the thumb pinches the barrel against the second joint of the index finger. But James uses slightly more wrist-cock and turns this pinch grip through almost 90 degrees so that the thumb pad is virtually underneath the barrel, and is also at the back rather than near the balance point. His second finger is then curled round to stabilise the front of the barrel whilst his third and little fingers are less curled and stay clear of the point (which is, incidentally, 5mm longer than standard).

On drawback there is almost the sense of this grip acting as a coiling spring, with the fingers curling more and then uncoiling to release. This is probably the most characteristic element in James’s throw and results in left-hand (ie anti-clockwise looking from the back) spin being imparted to the darts, which is not as usual as one might think for a left-handed player.

He also releases his 20gm pencil darts slightly point up, rather “flighting” them to the target. At 52.8mm and with those longer points, they then need the stability benefits of his Plus-shaped flights to provide his preferred point down impact, following the arc of the trajectory.

James’s stance is very fractionally to the right of the oche, but at an angle maybe 5 degs short of a right angle, so his left throwing shoulder stays fairly central (although he is very willing to move along the oche when blocking darts require). His “take aim” position is rather further out than the majority of players, with the forearm being well past vertical (no bad thing in itself), and the subsequent uncomplicated draw-back and throw is pretty much straight down his left (bespectacled) eye line, resulting in a relatively linear arm action in the horizontal plane - something I see as an important factor in his success.

So what about those less classic throw features? Well, on occasion there can be a variability of throw tempo as well as some slight body and head movement on release. Afterwards the throwing hand can also drop down (and sometimes slightly left) rather faster than I would think ideal (although that might suit his favoured double 10!).

In general, though, there’s a lot to admire in the technique of someone who, despite admitting to not being a lover of practice, is such a successful player. It’s a real joy to watch such natural talent in action, so let’s hope James can marshal himself (see what I did there?) for a determined attempt at that World Championship he so thoroughly deserves!

There are 4 comments to this post

Posted by Ashton at 09:12 on 14th November 2012

I use Sigma Pro flights and have done for a long time. I have recently bought the Sigma Pro XL darts and find the setup to compliment the flights, and my throwing style, very well. The only problem im finding is that the black or gold seems to come off a new set of Sigma Pro flights within minutes of using them. Is it possible for Unicorn to release a new set of Sigma Pro flights but use a different material or something, so the flights dont look tatty after one practice session?

Posted by Mihai at 10:48 on 15th November 2012

Hello Sir,

Thank you for your useful and entertaining articles ! Keep posting, I will keep reading.
I would love to know your point of view on a back weighted dart. How would those perform in your opinion. I have seen some, I never got the chance to actually throw them. They are not made by Unicorn, I kept on searching and I could not find something similar in the Unicorn portofolio apart for some Sigma that resembled what I saw slightly.
So, to keep it short : let's say we would have a set of almost"carrot - shaped " darts : very thin at the front and fatter towards the back of the barrel. Let's us say again that they are not necessarly torpedo shaped. I am looking at a lenght of say around 49-50.70 mm for a 24 gms dart.
My take would be that the thinner front would allow for grouping, while the fatter back could be deceiving - we would have them hollowed out in order to accomodate the stems - right ? How would a dart like that fly in your opinion ? Would it be a speedy one ? looking forward for your reply and future posts !
Have a great day on.

Posted by eddie at 13:09 on 15th November 2012

glad you do the reviews of the players uniboffin as you get to work with the players close up which must be great and it gives us all a idea what makes a top player better than the normal man.i have changed my grip so the dart is no longer on the tip of my index finger now is in the first bend and this has made my throw much better do you think this can help keep the dart straighter.i agree with ashton unicorn flights are good but the problem is the design wears fast maybe a new print method would be better and also the points could be better lasting would be nice to see this area improved in 2013/14 range.wade throw is very nice on the eye and hope his health gets better soon.

Posted by Jeff Cruz at 03:06 on 21st November 2012

Great review of another great darter Uniboffin! I had some love for James Wade for his natural talent throwing darts...Its just too bad he is still in the shadows of other darting greats, having no World Championship Title to brag but I doubt it'll be any longer for The Machine...

I must admit, while trying to practice my lefthand, Wadey's grip and throw is what I try to emulate...however, I find it really hard to comprehend his actions...I think your technique spotlight on Wade will help me adjust to better my other throwing arm...

At the moment, I'm using a local PH-made darts, however I Ioved to try a Barneveld dart, I cant help but think otherwise since I am doing quite great with the arrows I have at the moment...

Kuddos Uniboffin!

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