When it comes to throwing darts like the local pub champion, two aspects are key, a Japanese research team has found: timing and hand positioning.
This is less obvious than it sounds.
The timing – when the dart is released – inherently varies from throw to throw. So, too, does the hand motion. Small changes can turn bull's-eyes into bounce-outs.
The research team, from Osaka University, used seven cameras to understand how experts deal with these variables. What they found was that experts are not so different from novices – they simply compensate better for the changes between throws.
Namely, some experts varied slightly in their timing from toss to toss, so they use a hand motion that mitigates the effect of those changes.
“The timing error of some experts was similar to that of novices; however, these experts had a longer window of time in which to release an accurately thrown dart,” the research team explained in its study. “These subjects selected hand trajectory patterns that could compensate for the timing error.”
Others who instead varied in their throwing motion did the opposite, consistently releasing their darts at the same time each throw.
The findings, while limited for now, may ultimately have implications that go beyond your corner sports bar, the researchers said. They could instead offer a window into how throwing in any context – from baseballs to crumpled-up pieces of trash – can be made to be more consistent.