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Side Effects

Posted by UniBoffin at 12:59 on 18th March 2013 in UniBlog

Side Effects

Last time I recklessly brandished some dodgy mathematics at you and thus provided some hopefully helpful hints for the more vertically challenged player. This time it’s the turn of the horizontally challenged – by which I don’t mean the impressively endomorphic, but those who shun the middle of the oche like it was a trapdoor to a pit of crocodiles.

Quite why so many players stand to one side of the oche is a bit of a mystery to me – as is why that side, more often than not, is on the right. If anything, for the right-handed majority, standing slightly to the left, so that the throwing shoulder is opposite the bull, would seem more logical. But there we are. I suppose if pushed I could come up with some sort of specious explanation involving cross-dominance, parallax, or something of that ilk.

And some very, very good players are “right-wingers” – Barney, The Warrior, and The Count, to name just three – so it can’t be easily dismissed as any novice fault. Even Old Stoneface himself, John Lowe, in my opinion a paradigm of darting technique if ever there was one, has moved from a centre to a side position during the course of his career.

Notwithstanding such exalted exponents of lateral displacement, I’m now going to try and show not only why I think it is not a particularly good move from a scientific perspective, but also why that might not make itself apparent to the player themselves.

So consider a player who stands a bit to the right – we’ll call him Orville (well, this is an aerodynamics blog!). Let’s say Orville isn’t even displaced from the middle by the 30cm or so that would take him to the end of a regulation raised oche, but by only 16.5cm, to be opposite the double 6. Combining my dodgy maths from last time with that schooldays bane Pythagoras, it can be shown that the gravity drop of Orville’s darts when he throws at double 6 is around 1.5cms less than when aiming at double 11, some 33cm due west. Whereas for his brother Wilbur, who throws from the middle, the drop is the same.

That 1.5cm would need to be compensated for in Orville’s subconscious trajectory calculations and is thus a potential source of inaccuracy compared to Wilbur. But even if no compensation were made, both double 6 and double 11 are around 5cm in height, so 1.5cm vertical error would still leave a dart well inside either target bed. Where that same error would be noticeable – eg, when going for the bull, or treble and double 20 or 19 – the targets are all near the board centreline and the gravity drop, although slightly bigger for Orville than Wilbur, is pretty consistent for both of them.

So that could explain why geometry may indicate standing to one side of the oche should be counterproductive without the effect being that apparent in terms of results. But it could still be there, niggling away in the background. Let’s now move from comparing double 11 with double 6 to considering the rather more match-relevant switch from double 10 to double 5.

It’s true the vertical disparity between these doubles also affects things, but, restricting ourselves just to the effect of the horizontal displacement, Orville will have to allow for a 0.45cms greater gravity drop when moving from double 10 to double 5 whereas Wilbur will experience just a 0.24cm decrease. A potentially key difference, given that 0.45cms on an otherwise perfectly thrown dart will result in missing the checkout (the half-height at the middle of the double 5 bed is just 0.42cms). Which means the not-right brother wins!

So that’s something to think about for those of you who reckon standing at one side of the oche suits their throw. Maybe it does and maybe there isn’t much of a downside during the treble 20/treble 19 scoring phase or when going for your favourite double (even if being a fraction further from the middle of the board isn’t exactly a help). But remember, if you need to switch around the houses for a tricky checkout, Pythagoras for one won’t be on your side!

Well, that’s pretty much it for now. No time left to discuss the new darts The Power used recently (phew!), although I will tell you that the barrels were plain 26gm Sigma 950s and, although I designed them, him using them was entirely his own idea and nothing to do with me - or Unicorn’s marketing department, for that matter (whatever the sceptics might think!).

There’s also no space for the Technique Spotlight I had been thinking of including on Anastasia Dobromyslova. Instead, I’ll sneakily link her into this blog by inviting you to go online and compare Ana’s throw with that of her arch-rival Trina Gulliver. Two of the greatest lady players of all-time - see any similarities in technique? And what about where they stand? Does that have any effect at all results-wise? Comments welcome!

Q&As

Warren and Long Points
Always nice to hear from you, Warren, and may I wish you and your fellow administrators in the WDDA (see Warren’s recent UniBlog) every success with such a worthy cause. As for finding a set-up that suits you, unfortunately UniLab does not cater for non-standard point lengths, but as a general rule (not without exceptions!), longer points need bigger flights. So if you’re finding those Big Wing flights suit you, I’d see no reason to suggest a change!

Jeff & Heavier Barrels
Glad you found my last blog to be of help, Jeff. As for a recommendation on a heavier barrel than your current 23gms, your scoring and finishing sound very respectable and I recall that you have, in the past, mentioned being interested in trying front-loaded (as well as hexagonal!) barrels and also have, whilst not claiming to be of comparable standard, likened your throw to Barney’s (in that context, although The Man himself seems to have benefited from moving down from 25gm to 23, I think the height discrepancy between you justifies you thinking of going in the opposite direction).

You’ve also mentioned already looking for a barrel using UniLab without seeing anything that particularly appealed, which means I can justify including a couple of suggestions that aren’t in the UniLab database, even if it might seem rather self-serving!

For a throw like Barney’s, obviously his 25gm World Champ Phase barrels are all reasonable suggestions (cat nos 10186, 10368, 10369 & 10382) and if you wanted to go a bit heavier still, the Phase 1 is also available in 27gm (10187). You could also look at the 25gm Sigma XL Pro (cat no 10377) or, if you fancy trying a more curved barrel also suitable for a front-grip, the 24gm Sigma 4 Pro (cat no 10400). Finally, for a slightly cheaper option and a real front-loaded howitzer of a dart, there’s the Samantha Pike Generation 180 (07541) at 29gm – maybe all that extra momentum might help you at the top of the board!

Whichever heavier weapon you eventually choose, I wish you the best of luck with them!

There are 4 comments to this post

Posted by Jon at 19:39 on 18th March 2013

Could the reason for right of the oche be an ergonomic one?
I know I used to stand with my heel on the center to achieve a shoulder lined with the bull, but I found when i was throwing to the right of the bull that my tendency was for my shoulder to move in odd ways and my elbow and vision seemed to lose alignment to a slight degree. Now I place my toe on the center point of the oche and all is well. I know the math get's quite a bit more dodgy but my sight and shoulder seem to play alot more consistently.

Posted by Jeff Cruz at 03:54 on 19th March 2013

Uniboffin,

Very glad on your reply to my queries and I do seriously consider your math in my throw now...and this blog, center or off-center on the oche, will still be of great help to any darter...
After the end of our tournament this year, I think I'll try out Samantha Pike's, but wow! 29gm? heavier than The Power's i believe... :)

Posted by eddie at 23:20 on 25th March 2013

could the reason be that a taller player feels they need to stand of center so that there arm extends out more as i am 6 foot 3 and find if dead centre my arm dies mind throw also as i feel closer to the board when centre the dart moves less in the air which sounds good but if your dart dips near the end of the throw it may not allow the full length of time the dart needs to complete the motion that is why i think barney stands right as he is tall and his dart dips near the end same as hankey.

Posted by Warren at 08:03 on 28th March 2013

Interesting Uniboffin.. well some of it as I noticed the same players changing positions on the line over the years.

Perhaps I am different but have always thrown from the center of the Oche and always will.
The reasoning behind this is I find that I have the shortest distance to the board, straight down the middle....
I have also noticed that when trying to move off center my darts go accros the board no matter how hard I try to keep them straight.
I commend those who have taken that plunge and moved but in my case I say "aint broke dont fix it" and will stay center stance until I retire :)

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