Shot Darts

Learn Your Outs: The Building Blocks Of Success
I know learning your outs sounds a bit like eating your veggies: it's something you know you should probably do more of but it's a bit of a chore.

The driver for me to get better at learning my outs were those times during league play where I'd be stood at the oche trying to work out what to do when my first dart missed its target.  I'm not the worst counter (or, clearly, the best) but under that pressure I used to generally resort to the standard tactic of "If I'm on an even I'll throw at 20's, if I'm on an odd I'll throw at 19's".  This is not a solid process and it's frustrating hitting T19 and finding out you have 34 left.

As a result of this I started practicing the outs between 61 and 100.  (I don't want this post to be a holy war about which is the best way to take out any given number although I do have views on that!)  Part of the practice was to hit the out but an equally important part was knowing which way I was going and to be able to adjust without breaking my flow.

The lightbulb moment here, which may be obvious to everyone else, is that knowing these finishes was not only useful on this particular outshot but any time I landed on that number.  Take 68 as an example.  This, for me, is as follows:

T20 leaves D4; or
S20 leaves 48 which is the 16/8 pie for D16 or tops.

As well as knowing this when I have a 68 outshot with three darts in hand I can plug in this building block in other situations when that number comes up.  Say I'm on 86 and my opponent is on 250.  I'm still going for 18s as T18 leaves D16.  I also know prior to stepping up to the oche that S18 leaves 68.  With my opponent on a finish I'll go S18 for the bullseye but there's no point leaving 50 unless I'm going to throw at the bull.  In this example, I am not throwing at the bull so I plug in my "68, 3 dart finish" building block in.  With 68 required and two darts in hand I switch to 20's and follow the route described above.  I really should be walking away from this visit with either 40 or 32 remaining with the absolute minimum of fuss.

And this works when you miss both your primary and secondary targets.  Say I'm on 86 again.  I'm still going 18's but this time I slip into T4.  I know from experience or pre-calculation that 86-12 is 74.  Because I'm comfortable on all the outshots (mathematically speaking) between 61 and 100 I just plug in the 74 block and go again.

For me this takes away one of the levels of calculation.  I may still need to do the maths of "number I started with minus the unexpected thing I just hit" but I then don't have to flail around working out what to do with this unplanned two-darter.

These blocks also work on the bigger numbers as well.  If I'm on 134 and I hit T20 I know that leaves me 74 so I plug in that block; if I want go 19s instead then then I know the treble will leave me 77 and I have a block for that finish too.  As soon as the 77 block is in place I discard the 134 so when I hit S19 with my second dart I don't need to work out what 134 minus 76 is.  Instead I'm on familiar ground of:
T19 leaves D10; or
S19 leaves 58 which is the 18 pie for tops

Perhaps it's the way my mind work but I found it really useful doing it this way.  And of course you can start creating your blocks at the appropriate size for your game.  Maybe your block set starts with the numbers from 41 to 61.  Or 101 to 140.

Darts: Harrows Glen Durrant Duzza Series 2 24g, short Harrows Supergrip shafts, Harrows flights (Marathon/Retina/Optix/Rapide) 

Best 501: 13 darts (League), 14 darts (Pro Darter)

Best Checkout: 154 (League), 160 (Pro Darter)
Great post mate! +1
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Great post and very true.

My game upped massively when I learnt the out shots. I became more confident and enjoy the game more as I have favourite routs to take and I enjoy landing on them.

It is of the upmost importance for anyone serious about darts and advancing their game to learn all out shots.
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it still surprises me during league matches how many people have to stop after each shot if they miss the obvious triple to figure out what they have and what they need. people that have been playing for years and years still dont plan anything out other than the first shot. i ALWAYS plan out my entire throw before the first one launches. if i have 83 left i will plan out exactly what i need if i miss. that way i rarely have to stop and count. but it just kills me when im playing someone and they have no clue what is going on once the first dart lands. ive seen a lot of people who have something like 97 left so they throw at T19 and hit a single. so instead of trying for an out they will either throw at D19 (good lord i dont see a reason to do that ever ever ever) or throw the other two darts at S19. again, i dont see why you would ever do that. if your opponent isnt on a finish and you hit both, then youre good. but if you miss and hit a 7 or a 3 then youve just wasted your last 2 darts and the first one of your next throw. and if you hit T19 you havent killed yourself but youve left D1, which isnt optimal when you had 2 darts to get something better. i just dont get it.

i knew the importance of learning outs so i made a point to do it very early on. the only drawback to it is that you will be the one everyone looks at when they need advice.

one of the things i have noticed from doing a lot of out drills is that in going for the "right" outs you will very often leave yourself 58, 56, 54, 53, 52. or the 60+ equivalent depending on your starting score. so i have started adding this to my practice routines. not only is it very helpful to be able to pick off 17, 18, D20 but it is also very fun and satisfying! sure, hitting T17, D12 is fun too, but having to work for it makes it a lot more satisfying to me. as ive said many times, 100s are fun to hit, but 97 is a lot harder to score and it makes me feel really good when i hit it. its basically saying "dude you are on today".

anyway, i dont do everything the traditional way just because i know i am a lot better at certain numbers than i am others. weve had discussions about the "right" way to do outs on here before and its my belief that the reason we have the "right" way to do it in the first place is to give yourself the best chance of not only getting the out, but also not screwing it up. i know that if i throw at certain combinations i have a greater chance of screwing something up than throwing at other combos that im more confident in. in my opinion its far more important to not screw it up than it is to take it out.

Mcockrell which outshot list do you use.  i have seen many and read the posts as you mentioned about the ways to take out certain numbers.  However, I have not seen a listing in these threads. Is there a certain system that you use and have learned and is that listed somewhere?
Banz do you also use any specific outshot listing?  
I am looking to learn what mcockrell pointed out about knowing what to do when you miss with the first dart.  As a somewhat beginner 3rd year playing I would like to learn a system that includes what to do if you miss that first shot. Yes I am one of those that has to stop and think about the new number.  I have to think about what to do with the remaining darts.
I have learned some specific shots to make because I have been there before, but those others I need time to think and learn what to do.
I do score x01 games but everyone is so fast and always announces the score and results before I can think some times.  I know this is because it is an everyday thing for them and I try to do the math during practice to get faster.  So if I can learn what to shoot at when at any number would be great but finding which list of shots is the question.  I would like to know a standard system without getting into the discussion of which listing is the best.  Just something to learn that is more then the outshot pros list I get when buying supplies or darts.
i started here:

when i first started playing i wanted to learn my outs but more importantly i wanted to know why you were supposed to throw at that particular sequence. this website will break down what to throw at and why. i generally follow the suggested out charts about 98% of the time. but nothing in this game is really static. some days are better than others for certain numbers so i like to experiment during practice a bit. there obviously a lot of outs that you should probably follow 100% of the time, but there are others that there is no real "right" way and is open to personal preference. the rest is just from experience.

one guideline i can give you when trying to learn outs is to start manually scoring as much as you can. if youre in a league volunteer to score every chance you get. being able to quickly subtract and add certain sequences of numbers is basically the key to learning outs and being able to identify what you need to do in case you miss and chalking is an excellent way to get that to stick in your head. before long it will become second nature to quickly subtract 17s, 19s, and even 57s, 51s, etc. if its a complicated sequence then i will just use the quick method whereby if the point is 57 i will subtract 60 then add 3 to it. but after a while you will not only get used to subtracting the numbers, but youll also end up memorizing a lot of the more common score totals.

one other piece of advice is to start trying to subtract your score after every throw in your head. its not that critical until you get down to 170, but its really important to start at least trying to do that when youre 100 and under. i do it every single throw from 170 on down. leaving yourself 124, 121, 100, etc instead of 129, 105, 99, is the next best thing to having an extra dart to throw.

Great advice from MC.

One thing I would disagree with is the point at which you start subtracting on a per dart basis.  I'd start a bit higher than 170; at the minimum I would start doing this from 235.  Why 235?  I'd start here because I would want to leave a finish if I hit 2 singles with my first two darts and you can leave 170 with S20-S20-25 from 235 .  This may require a switch to the 25/bull or one to 19's, 18's etc.  Only last night in the league I saw someone hit S20, S20, S20 to leave themselves 162.  A switch to 18's last dart would leave 164.  No extra skill required to leave yourself on a finish.

The outs that I base mine are from Kaitanen, who seems to divide opinion around here.  Grab a coffee before diving in as his way of doing things is a bit different to most people's and is based on the amount of "spray" (i.e. inaccuracy) at various levels of play.  I happen to disagree with this aspect of his approach and feel that you should learn the "right" way to approach a finish from the start. 

My strategy on outshots is this.  At the end of my visit, while my opponent is throwing I work out what my shot is.  Say I leave 83.  I search the memory banks, as this is not yet automatic, and remember that 83 is T17-D16.  I also pre-calculate what I'll leave if I hit S17 which in this case would be.......66.  Because I have spent the last month practicing my outs from 61 to 100 I then quickly grab my 66 out from memory which is T14-D12 (S14-S12 leaves tops).

Having done this I approach the oche with a clear plan in mind.  If I miss 17's completely then I'll need to do the subtraction on the fly. Once I've done this I will need to grab the appropriate out from memory and switch to that.

It sounds complicated but with practice it's not so bad.  For me repetitious practice was the key here and for a month I added a drill of doing every number from 61 to 100 into my practice.  This included knowing the way to go as well as throwing the darts.

Darts: Harrows Glen Durrant Duzza Series 2 24g, short Harrows Supergrip shafts, Harrows flights (Marathon/Retina/Optix/Rapide) 

Best 501: 13 darts (League), 14 darts (Pro Darter)

Best Checkout: 154 (League), 160 (Pro Darter)
Learn your outs People, dont go 20's cause it's even, dont go 19's cause it's odd, work on your breakdowns
Not having to re-think because of a missed dart and not leaving myself on a bogey is why I think more about 'where does this dart need to go' than memorizing out-charts. I'll look at them if I'm not sure, but I still subtract one dart at a time.

I'll generally start counting backward around 250 or so. I do know that if I can manage a 180 from 350 it will leave me on an out. The odds of that are slim, but if I'm on 350 it sits in my mind.
- If it don't fit, force it.  If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.
- If it ain't broke, you might still be able to fix it.

"Maintain a solid 60.  What you do with your other two darts is up to you" -Unknown

My match darts:  22gm Bulls White Pegasus, intermediate nylon/Target Carbon Ti Pro stems, Rhino standard flights.
well said banz!

i always work out what i want to throw at and what i need if i miss before turn. i cant stress enough how important that will become at some point. ive seen too many people with 80ish scores miss the first dart, then immediately throw at the odd or the even just to make it even and hit a triple and end up leaving themselves 6 or 10 or 12 or something else hideous when all it would have taken is a little planning and foresight.

it may sound intimidating at first, because very few people like doing math in their head but as Banz said, if you practice it and practice throwing at outs then it will eventually become second nature to you. im not saying you have to memorize everything. but if you do what Banz just said which is work out your shot ahead of time, then you will start remembering the most common ones. and you will probably start taking out a lot more outs just because you will have a lot more confidence in taking the shot because you know even if you miss what you need to throw at next.


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