How To Become A Darts Pro

How To Become A Darts Pro

Andy Cornwall |

How To Become A Pro Darts Player

Have you ever watched the professionals playing on TV and been in awe of their accuracy on the dartboard? Ever thrown a few darts yourself in your local pub or at a friend’s house and hit a few good scores?

The chances are you have probably imagined what it would be like to be a professional darts player yourself! A career playing darts as a professional is more lucrative than ever before, with the PDC tour offering millions of pounds in prize money each year. 

In this guide, we will walk you through how to become a darts pro on the PDC circuit – the professional tour in world darts. There are several different routes players can follow to become a professional, and there are also certain ingredients it takes to join the likes of Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright at the very top of the game.

What is a darts professional?

A darts professional is someone who plays darts for a living. This could be from regularly playing in competitions and earning income from prize money or sponsorships, or from playing in darts exhibitions around the world.

The majority of professional dart players will have a PDC tour card, which gives them automatic entry to compete in the PDC’s Players Championship events. There are only 128 tour cards available each season and several routes available for players to try and earn one.

Becoming a PDC Professional

There are multiple ways to secure a PDC tour card and join the professionals on the tour. The traditional route to follow is to enter Qualifying School (also known as Q-School), which is a tournament held once a year and has a number of tour cards up for grabs.

If you are unsuccessful at Qualifying School, you can go down one of the alternative routes and win your tour card on the Challenge Tour or Development Tour. Players who are successful via one of these routes will earn a two-year tour card to play on the PDC's main circuit.

The Traditional Route: PDC Qualifying Schools

The traditional route to become a pro darts player is to enter PDC Qualifying School. This is an annual tournament held at the start of each year and is open to anyone aged 16 and above. Entries for the 2024 Qualifying School cost £475 per player.

First held in 2011, Qualifying School offers a set number of PDC tour cards for players to try and win and join the professionals on the main circuit. Players from the UK, Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar are eligible for the UK Qualifying School, whilst players from all other European nations compete in European Qualifying School. Players from other nations can decide which of the two Qualifying Schools they want to enter.

Qualifying School is held over seven days and is split between two stages. The first stage is played across the first three days, before the final stage covers the last four days. The final stage is when PDC tour cards become available with the winner of each daily tournament and the highest ranked players on the final Order of Merit earning spots on the professional circuit.

Notable players who have won their tour cards via Q-School includes Dave Chisnall, Gerwyn Price, Nathan Aspinall, Ross Smith, Raymond van Barneveld and Lisa Ashton.

PDC Qualifying School

Are you ready for PDC Qualifying School? This is a typical setup for the event with a row of dartboards for players to use for matches and practice.

Alternative Route 1: The Challenge Tour

An alternative route for how to become a professional dart player is to compete on the PDC Challenge Tour. This is a series of events held each year that is exclusive for players who played in Qualifying School but did not win a PDC tour card.

The Challenge Tour consists of 24 tournaments, held over five weekends during the year, with players earning prize money towards the Challenge Tour Order of Merit. These rankings are used throughout the year as a reserve list for Players Championship events, so any tour card holders that decide not to enter an event will have their spot taken by the highest ranked players from the Challenge Tour.

The top two players on the final Order of Merit each receive a two-year PDC tour card and also a place in the PDC World Championship at the end of the year. The winner of the Challenge Tour also qualifies for the Grand Slam of Darts.

Players who have earned a tour card via the Challenge Tour over the years include Rob Cross, Ryan Searle and Callan Rydz.

Rob Cross Challenge Tour

Rob Cross (pictured above) won his PDC tour card via the Challenge Tour in 2016. In his first year on the professional circuit, he beat Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor to win the PDC World Championship.

Alternative Route 2: The Development Tour

Another alternative route for how to become a pro dart player is the PDC Development Tour. Open to anyone aged 16- 23, this tour also consists of 24 tournaments, with players competing for prize money that goes towards the Development Tour Order of Merit. The top two players on the final Order of Merit will each receive a two-year PDC tour card as well as a spot in the PDC World Championship. The Development Tour winner also qualifies for the Grand Slam of Darts.

Some of the most notable players to win a tour card via the Development Tour includes Dimitri Van den Bergh, Luke Humphries and Rowby-John Rodriguez.

Luke Humphries Development Tour

Luke Humphries (pictured above) won his PDC tour card via the Development Tour in 2017. He won his first major title at the 2023 World Grand Prix and is now regarded as one of the best players in the world.

What It Takes To Make It All The Way To Pro

There are several personal qualities and commitments that go into making a pro darts player. Talent on its own will not be enough to enjoy a thriving career as a pro, with other ingredients required to be successful. Here are some of the key components you need…

Regular Practice

One of the most important elements to becoming a professional dart player is regular practice. Every sport requires practice to improve your technique and skills. Darts, although not as physically demanding as other sports, is no different.

The answer to how much practice you need to become a pro darts player is a difficult one, but you should look to establish a focused mindset during practice and have a clear structure and goals to aim for. Staying committed to a practice regime will help you develop your game and progress through the ranks.

Take a look at our darts practice routines for some popular games to try out and our ‘How To Practice Darts’ blog for some top tips on the best ways to practice and get the most out of your time on the board.

Adam Warner Darts

Adam Warner (pictured above) was one of several players to win a PDC tour card at Qualifying School in 2023. He practiced for many hours to improve his skills to reach the professional circuit.


To be a professional dart player requires a lot of commitment and perseverance. A career as a pro sportsman will include plenty of highs and lows, so you need the strength to overcome the difficult moments and stay committed to achieving your goals.

Peter Wright is a prime example of a player who has battled through the lows to reach the very top of the darts world. He lost in his first five major finals, before winning the 2017 UK Open. Wright then lost his next seven finals in major events, before again coming back and clinching victory in the 2020 PDC World Championship. His major wins late on in his career show that combining commitment with talent will set you on the right path for success.

Seeking Advice & Asking For Help When You Need It

If you want to know how to become a pro dart player, it’s wise to seek advice and help from those who have been there and done it already. Don’t be afraid to speak to players who are on the professional circuit right now and any ex pros you might come across to gain some wisdom from their years of experience.

Whether you’re looking for some help with the logistics of the PDC tour and how everything works or maybe a technical question about your own game, seeking out advice from the pros will help you learn how to improve your game.

If you bump into a professional at a local open event or in your darts league, ask them for a few minutes of their time to ask them about what life is like as a pro player. It will help you be more prepared for when you hopefully join them on the tour in the future.

Andrew Gilding Stowe Buntz

The 2023 UK Open champion Andrew Gilding (pictured above, left) offers some words of encouragement to Stowe Buntz (right) after their match at the 2023 Grand Slam of Darts.

Patience With Yourself & The Competition

In most sports a professional’s career will peak in their 20s or 30s, but age is just a number when it comes to competing at the top level in darts. Michael Smith won his first PDC World Championship at the age of 32, some 11 years after making his debut in the tournament as a 21-year-old and losing in two previous world finals. Meanwhile, Andrew Gilding won his first major title at the 2023 UK Open as a 52-year-old veteran.

Patience is an important quality to have on your journey as a pro, as there is no set age or time when you will make it. Remember that the lows you experience in the game are a learning curve and being patient and continuing to persevere will lead to rewards further down the road.

Now You Know What It Takes To Become A Darts Pro…

Now you know the ins and outs of becoming a professional darts player and the different routes you can take to get there. If you are serious about becoming a pro, it's time to start practicing and commit yourself to the game!

A reminder to read through our ‘How To Practice Darts’ blog for a closer look at the best ways to practice your skills. You can also check out our darts practice routines for some ideas and suggestions for games to try out at home.

Pictures: PDC

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