Last Updated on April 13, 2022 by Allison Price
The DeliveryAssume you’re a spectator at a public court. You will witness an expert player do this. (right-handed pitcher)
The pitcher places the player on the pitcher’s platform to the side opposite the stake. Place the feet carefully so that he/she is balanced and standing straight. Grab the shoe and extend it out to the full length of his/her arm. The shoe is held by the person at 45 degrees to the ground, with the caulks down. He/she raises the shoe at eye level and points it at the stake opposite. He/she bends slightly at the knees, leans forward at the waist and swings the shoe in an effortless manner backwards. He/she then steps forward, just a split second before the back-swing is complete. This delivery-step takes place with the foot opposite the delivery arm. The back-swing ends and the shoe does not stop. Straight from the shoulder, the arm swings forward like a pendulum. The front-swing is when the shoe passes the leg. He/she then brings the shoe to a level position using a natural roll of his/her arm. The delivery-step is complete at this point and the body weight is smoothly transferred to the left side. The body lifts as the eight knee returns to its normal position. As the shoe swings in line with the eyes, he/she releases it.
The shoe is released in a flat position. Release is done with delicate wrist movements. There is no snapping or jerking of the wrist and arm. The player releases the shoe and then the hand moves up above the head in a graceful follow through. There is no lost motion in the delivery. Every movement is smooth and well-coordinated. The shoe glides effortlessly through the air at 8 feet above its highest point. The trajectory’s height varies depending on the player. The shoe starts to wobble as it travels and begins to “break out” just before crossing the foul line of pitcher’s box. The shoe falls open-end-first onto stake. As the shoe circles the stake, there is a loud clink. A ringer! The second shoe will soon follow the first. A double ringer!
The Foundations of Delivery
You can see many styles of horseshoe pitchers delivering wherever they gather. Some styles are precise and smooth. Many others, however, are not. However, just because someone can throw a pitching shoe or pick it up, it doesn’t mean they are able to control it. You can often hear a lot about the importance and significance of delivery. The delivery’s fundamentals are often overlooked. A horseshoe is a symbol for luck, but there are very few luck factors involved in pitching ringers. There is no shortcut that will make a beginner an expert pitcher. To become a great pitcher, it takes patience and proper practice.
These are the essential basic-fundamentals. These are: (1) The pitching grips, (2) Stance, (3) Footwork, (4) Pendulum swing, (5) Follow-through and (6) Timing & rhythm.
The Pitching Grips
Beginners must have a firm grip on the shoe. It is difficult to set a standard for grips. Few champions deliver and hold their shoes in the same way. Because of the variations in their hands and the lengths of their fingers, as well as the release methods used, this is why they are so different.
To make a horseshoe land open at the stake, there are many grip options. It is possible to throw the one and one quarter (1 1/4) turns, two and one quarter (2 1/4), three and one quarter (3 1/4) turns, and the one and one half (1/4) turns. For the three-quarter (3/4), turn, and two- and three-quarter (2/3), turns, the one-quarter and three quarter (1 3/4) grips can be used. There are also single and double flip shoes. These shoes are often called “tumble” shoes. Sometimes, a turn can be combined with a flip. It is quite common to see reverse or backward turns.
Except for the one-quarter turn and the one-quarter turn, the rest are unorthodox and called “freaks” or “offturns.” Some pitchers are skilled enough to use some of these “freak turns” to win the state championship title. An off-turn pitcher can’t play a consistent game, however.
A horseshoe’s “turns” are determined by how many revolutions it makes during flight. A shoe must be held by either one of its shanks to make it turn 1 1/4 or 1 34 times in flight. The proper way to hold a horseshoe is to wrap your fingers around one of its shanks. The thumb should extend across the top of each shank. It’s almost like holding a plate between your thumb and finger. The middle fingers, as well as the index and forefinger, are underneath. The comparison to the dinner plate is over because the first joint of the fingers curve upwards above the edge of a shoe’s inner-circle. The third finger can be used as the index or middle finger. The third finger can be used to help the little finger balance the shoe if it is too small. This is sometimes called the “gun-handle grasp.” This is a great definition because the grip is very similar to that of a pistol-butt. The forefinger acts as the trigger finger.
Keep still for 1/4 turn
Keep still for 3/4 turn
The shoe’s opening is to the left when you hold for the 1 1/4 turn. The opening of the shoe is to the left when you hold for the 1 1/4 turn. This applies to right-handed players. Left-handed players or “southpaws”, hold the opposite position.
For the best balance, place your heel between the toe and heel caulks. After a few days, you will be able to determine if your grip needs to be adjusted. To get a better grip, move the shoe’s weight from the index finder’s first joint to the main joint. This will place the shoe further back in your hand. Your thumb should be placed straight across the shank. To change the pointing on your shoe, simply shift your grip to adjust the position of your thumb. Do not try to curl your forefinger around the caulks at the heel. This is just as outdated as the Model T Ford. It is impossible to achieve the correct balance and turn in any other way than by going out-lined.
Features of the One-Quarter Turn
The 13/4 turn requires slightly different arm movement and wrist action than the 11/4 turn. The 13/4 shoe opens slightly slower because it takes an extra half-turn. Wind does not affect the 13/4 shoe as much as other types of shoes. The shoe balances better when it is held close to the toe for players who use the 13/4 turn. You can pitch it low enough to allow for a nice wobble in flight. A good flight wobble is desirable. The rule is that the 13/4 shoe should be pitched higher than 1 1/4. It takes longer to do the extra half-turns and “break open” than it does with the 1 1/4 shoe, as previously stated.
The shoe will open faster if you hold it near the heel. It doesn’t turn faster but if the shoe is held close to the heel with your thumb parallel to the shank, the shoe will already be turned in your hand. This is actually a one-eighths turn. The shoe’s opening is located halfway between the front and the right when the foot is gripped close to the toe. This is when the shoe is extended in the flat position before the player. In reality, this is a one-eighth and seven-eighth turn. The turn is known as the one-quarter turn, regardless of how the shoe points. Your shoe’s balance and turn will be affected by the slightest adjustment in your grip. For pitchers who have long, flexible swings it is unnecessary to keep their shoes close to the heel in order to make enough turns.
Features of the One-Quarter Turn
The 1 1/4 turn is more demanding than the 1 3/4 turn. The pitching of the 1 1/4 turn requires less wrist movement. It’s easier to see in flight. You can pitch it low so that it wobbles nicely during flight. The thumbs should be spread out a bit more on the shank. The 1 1/4 shoe should be held near the toe with the thumb in a parallel position to the shank. This will give it a one-eighth turn. A one- and three-eighths turn can be achieved by gripping near the heel. This turn is also known as the one-quarter turn. This shoe is not as strong as the 13/4. If the 1 1/4 shoe is too slow to turn, it will likely rebound from the stake. The 1 1/4 shoe can be very effective if it is given enough wobble to hook the stake from both the left and right sides.
How do you choose a Turn
Try both to find the best turn for your pitching style. The easiest one to control. Once you have chosen the turn that you like, stick with it until it becomes second nature. Do not try to alter your grip or turn to match the style of any expert. After using one turn for many years, some players try to improve their pitching skills by switching to another turn. They may be able to play for a while, but then they will “get off” their game. Their muscles may have been long trained to work for the first turn. This could be why they are having an adverse reaction. The player loses control after the novelty of the second round wears off. This is because the muscles have not been properly trained to handle the new turn.
Some players are able to switch between turns easily. Experts can throw any of the turns but they prefer to use their natural turn for competitive play. If it is one of two championship turns, the average pitcher will be successful.
Unorthodox or Off?
Many beginners make the mistake of starting with the three quarter (3/4) turn without proper instruction. It is easy to see in flight and many beginners mistakenly believe it is their natural turn. There are many reasons the three-quarter turn is not a good one.
(1) The shoe should be delivered quickly and low to allow for control in the air. This requires a stiff-armed delivery from the player. After a while, the player will find it difficult to switch to a better turn. (2) A shoe that is less than 1/4 turn per flight is difficult to control, as it doesn’t have enough flight-wobble or velocity to stop its fall. It is too straight on the stake. With the exception of the flip-over shoes, more ringers are lost to rebound with the three quarter turn than with any other. (3) A player cannot keep a straight line at the stakes by not delivering the three-quarter shoe in the right way. He/she must keep the shoe from turning excessively by swinging it at the leg in a horizontal or flat position. To prevent the shoe from rubbing against the leg, he/she must either pull the leg inwardly at the knee or swing it farther away or further out. leg. Either way, he/she is unable to keep the swing in line.
You can make most shoes open by using the three-quarter turn. Pitching horseshoes is more than just throwing an open shoe. The three-quarter shoe can glide low and fast through the air but often misses scoring distance if it is not in the right place. It is rare for players to be able pitch more than 60% of the ringers.
It is hard to control and watch a turn faster than the 13/4. It is too fast to allow for the precise timing necessary to ensure it arrives open at the stake. Pitching a fast-turning shoe is too difficult for the player. The single-flop and double-flop (tumble), shoes are the worst. This shoe is one that flips in flight instead of turning around. They are affected by even the slightest bit of wind. The flop-over shoes are just like the three-quarter turn shoes. They bounce badly and go too straight on to the stake.
Exceptions Support the Rule
These rules are not perfect. There are exceptions, but they serve only to show the rules. Curt Day, IN, won the 1966 and 1971 World Titles with a 3/4 reverse.
Harold Reno, OH, won the 1961 and 1964 World Titles with a reverse 1 1/4 turn, and Danny Kuchcinski (formerly from PA) won the World Title in 1967 and 1969 with a reverse.
These three exceptions tend to prove the basic rules. They have a natural precision that is unmatched by any other player. These experts are also able to swing, rhythm and time their turns in a way that is nearly perfect. They all throw the reverse turn in a natural way. Day was once a great softball pitcher. His release of the shoe that gives it the reverse twist is a natural result of the style he created for softball.
Day and Reno seem to lose more ringers by bouncing off stakes in national competition than top players. This is the greatest fault with unorthodox turns due to the extra effort and force required to deliver the message.
Turning the Shoe
Many beginners make the mistake of forcing their turns by pushing their wrists, even though they don’t need any instruction. The shoe does the majority of the work when it is held correctly and delivered correctly. Guy Zimmerman, a former top-flight pitcher, provided these instructions on how to secure the correct turn.
Hold your shoe at arm length. You should swing it in the flat position, so that it aligns with your eyes. Turn the shoe vertically as you begin your back swing. You should keep the shoe in this position until your leg passes your foot in your forward swing. Next, roll your arm freely to bring the shoe back down to its original position. Your wrist should remain straight and in its original position. Relax your fingers as the shoe rises again in line with your eyes. Make sure your shoe is in a flat position to ensure it lands flat and dead. The shoe will roll and land on its edge if it is not released in a level position.
Top players ensure that their aim-point and release-point match. This eliminates any variation in their swing length. Your shoe should be swung vertically. As the shoe begins to release, notice the slight pull on your fingers. For an experiment, swing your shoe back and forth, allowing it to hang vertically from one or two fingers. The shoe will almost level itself with your arm roll. As the shoe moves into a release or level position, your wrist simply turns with it. Your turn is secured by the delicate, deft movement of your wrist. This wrist-motion is also known as “wristsnap” and “wrist flip”. This definition is inaccurate. Many motions can be made using the wrist without it being “snapping”, or “flipping”. This is what you can see for yourself. Allow your arm to hang naturally from your side. Your palm should touch your thigh. Your arm should be extended in front of your body. Let your palm move upwards, and your arm will naturally roll. This motion isn’t “wrist-snap”, regardless of how fast it is.
Guy Zimmerman, a former champion in the sport, said that the wrong way to secure the turn was to hold the shoe horizontally or flatly. This prevents your arm from letting go of its natural roll and allows you to swing freely. The only way to get the shoe to turn is by forcing it to do so with a snap or jerk to your wrist and arm. This will put a strain on your arm. Because your wrist cannot control the turn of the shoe, it will not open uniformly. It is very difficult to keep the shoe in the flat position by swinging it with your leg. You can either swing the shoe further away from your leg or pull your leg inward, similar to the three-quarter turn pitcher. You can’t have consistent alignment in either direction.
Regulation of the Turn
To master a turn, it takes patience and practice. An inexperienced beginner will often spin the shoe too much. The shoe should not turn less than twice during flight due to the grip and delivery method. A shoe should turn at least one time during flight. Your trajectory can be adjusted to make your turn faster. (Fly the height of your shoe. Lower the elevation if your turn is too fast. To speed up the turn, lift the shoe a bit higher in the vertical position, before releasing it. You can slow down or retard the turn by moving the shoe faster into the horizontal or flat position before you release it. The turn can also be slowed down by shifting the grip slightly up (nearer to the toe) or down (nearer your heel) on the shoe’s shank. The best way to regulate the turn is to raise and lower the trajectory.
Because the release happens too fast for the eye, it is difficult to describe. A slow-motion camera is the best way to examine your release. Video cameras aren’t always readily available, but you can still learn a lot about your release by using slow-motion during practice.
You should have a firm grip but be flexible enough to allow for movement. Too tight grips can cause undue strain to the wrist and hand. It can also cause your shoe’s to turn too fast or flip over during flight. Your grip may not be firm enough to allow the shot to turn smoothly or slip out of your hands before you can release it. It is important to control your fingers. You must learn to control your fingers so that your shoes can be released correctly. With practice, this split-second action will become automatic.
Your aim-point and release point should match. You must ensure that your finger positions on the shank of the shoe are correct. They must also not slip during the swing. How you grip, swing, and release your shoe will determine how you turn. Your release is controlled by all your fingers, not just one. Pay attention to your release. Your forefinger (“trigger fingers”) stays in contact with your shoe longer than your thumb and other fingers. Your forefinger is the last influence on the shoe.
Extend your arm when you are preparing to deliver. Keep the shoe flat, with the caulks facing down. To prevent it from falling, grip it tightly with your thumb and fingers. For a firm yet flexible grip, the shoe’s weight should provide the right tension. The shoe should be released from your hand immediately. Do not let the shoe slide off of your fingers. You want to reduce drag. Do not try to force the shoe’s release by jerking your wrist or arm. Allow the shoe to flow naturally from your hand.
You have now been taught how to properly grip, turn, and release your shoe. You now need to learn how to properly stance your foot and work with it.
Ted Allen is a champion in horseshoe history and considers proper stance one of the most fundamental principles.
Experts are familiar with a variety of stances. Experts recommend that you do not stand stiff or tense at any time. Your body should be straight and free from tension. A good pitcher will have a slight crouch. Standing on one side, with your stake about at eye level, stand to the other. Place your feet on the pitcher’s platform, not the stake. Right-handed players should be standing to the left side of the stake. Left-handed players should take their position on the right-hand side. You should keep your delivery-arm parallel to the stakes.
The center of the alignment is the stakes. Each stake is three inches in front of the other. If you deliver from the wrong stake side, it is possible to pitch crossfire or off the center line of the alignment. You are also pitching several inches further than you need and it is difficult for the judge to properly gauge your step. Always pitch from the same side as the stake at both ends. For example, if your stand is to the south of the stake, you should be on the north end.
The most common way to stance is to place your left foot six to eight inches behind your right. The right foot supports all of the body weight. The body’s balance is maintained by the left foot. Swing your shoe backward and relax your right hip, knee and waist. Your weight will remain on your right side until you take your first step. Your body weight will then be smoothly transferred to your left foot. As you swing forward, your body will straighten. This is the style of many high-ranking players.
Experts may place the left foot slightly ahead of the right. Some others stand with both feet together. In either case, the body-weight is primarily on the right foot. If the player is right-handed, this is what it means. No matter what method you use, it is important to always take a “square posture”. This means that you should stand straight up in front of the opposing stake and your shoulders aligned with the court. Your right toe should point straight at the stake opposite. Your left foot should be parallel to your right foot, regardless of whether it is a few inches behind or ahead of your right. Your right toe should not point to the left. This could cause you to pitch to your right side of the stake.
Before you start your delivery, make sure you are in balance. A perfect balance is essential for precise alignment and coordination. With practice, a square, balanced stance will become a routine. This is why it’s important to cultivate this “habit” right from the beginning: A player pitches 100 shoes, and makes 60 ringers. He/she doesn’t get ringers with 40 shoes. Poor turn trajectory is responsible for 15% of misses. Poor alignment is responsible for 85% of misses. Most of this is due to careless standing.
To a large extent, the delivery-step controls swing and follow through. This step serves two purposes. This step makes it easier for the player swing the shoe and to maintain balance. Use a regular step like you would when walking. To provide sufficient propelling power for your shoe, a short, easy stride will suffice. Too long a step can throw you off balance, and lead to a low trajectory. You should start the step just before your arm reaches its summit in its back-swing. The shoe must pass the standing leg during the front-swing to complete the step. The swing must be perfect timing.
Right-handed players should use their left foot to move forward. Left-handed players should step forward with their right foot. The perfect coordination between the left arm and right leg (or vice versa), allows a player to have a longer swing, smooth follow-through, and a balanced delivery. Avoid crossing-stepping and always swing straight towards your mark. One of the most common mistakes to avoid is stepping out of line. An “embarrassing” step, which is turning the toe inwardly with the toes pointed out, can throw off balance and cause alignment problems. Proper footwork is essential for timing and balance in all sports. This is a shame, as so many pitchers don’t get it.
Some right-handed players are quite good and can move ahead with their right foot. This form of footwork is not common. This footwork causes the body to go into a constrained position at the top of release. The spinal nerves are gradually affected by a contortion-like delivery, which can cause a player to lose their endurance. This form can be viewed in a full-length mirror. You will be amazed at how awkward it appears. It will cause you to twist your body and pitch with a lunging motion.
You can change your playing form if you have poor foot control. (The foot opposite your delivery hand) Although it may seem difficult, this can be achieved with practice. It is worth it to have a better delivery. Frank Jackson was a national champion in his playing career and stood with his left foot planted forward. He didn’t move at all. He was powerful and had a strong will. He had a tremendous back-swing. Jimmy Lecky, an Arizona State champion pitcher, used his right hand and stepped with the right foot. This was due to an injury to his left heel, and was not his normal style. These two exceptional players are an exception to the rule. Their footwork is not easy for the average player. It has been many years since anyone won a national title using the wrong-footed-ahead footwork method. You must master the art of controlling your foot.
Delivery is a key part of the body’s role. The body-rhythm, which is coordinated with the swing, puts a lot of power into the swing. Expert players often drop their shoulders when they begin the back-swing. With the front swing, the body will straighten up. This body action is almost identical to that used in softball pitching or bowling.
It is important to have a correct knee action. By releasing the right knee and drawing it inward behind the left knee, the right knee relaxes, allowing the shoe to swing in front of the leg in a straight line towards the stake. This reduces the risk of the shoe hitting the leg. Proper knee action helps ensure a uniform trajectory, making delivery smoother and easier. The spring acts as a spring by relaxing the right knee and shifting the body weight to the left foot. This allows you to check the forward-swing without a sudden jarring or jolt. The body will rise as the knee straightens to its natural position and the weight of the body goes into the swing.
Delivering is not a time to crouch. I have seen players drop so low that they scraped the platform using their shoes. When bending the knees, a player can lift more body weight when straightening up for release. This extra weight can lead to body sway and poor alignment.
The Pendulum Swing
While most players understand the importance of good follow-through, not all are able to identify the purpose of this portion of the swing. Without a good follow-through, a smooth and accurate delivery is impossible. This is true for a pitcher, a pitcher and a golfer. Sometimes the follow-through is mistakenly referred to as the end of the swing. The follow-through does not just apply to the arm-swing. A thorough analysis reveals that it is not. It’s also part of the body-swing. It all starts with your stance. Poor stance, poor steps and poor follow-through can lead to poor swings and poor postures.
The perfect circle is formed by the arm swinging in the direction of a horseshoe. The circle is completed by the follow-through. The hand moves toward the stake even after it has released the shoe. The follow-through is the short distance the hand travels before it rises above the head.
Try to get the most follow-through possible with every pitch. It may be difficult at first to focus on the part of the swing that occurs after the shoe has been released. The shoe cannot be changed once it is in flight. He can however, make his hand follow the shoes on a line to and from the stake. This will ensure a consistent alignment and a consistent trajectory.
Alignment and Trajectory
The shoe should be pitched in an arc of 7-10 feet at its highest point. You can pitch a “dead falling shoe.” This means that the shoe should land flat and “dead.” It is important to have a consistent trajectory in order to get the right turn, alignment, distance, and speed. A shoe that is pitched too fast or too low will not open properly. The shoe may be perfectly aligned and turning at the correct speed, but it cannot open properly if it is too low or too fast. It must be timed in air. A low-pitched shoe that does not land on the stake will likely spin off or rebound. The shoe that misses the stake will usually slip out of the scoring area.
When you’re flying, keep the shoes up high. Don’t throw them too high. Too much flight elevation can cause a shoe’s toes to spin too fast. It also makes it difficult to judge distance accurately. However, a high shoe has an advantage over a lower one. A high floater will catch the stake from every angle. It is much easier to keep the shoes in flight if you are more efficient at delivering.
Do not attempt to adjust your position to pitch the correct distance if you are having difficulty. Your problem may worsen if you move ahead or back depending on the situation. Your swing must go the distance. Your swing must be fast enough to avoid the shoe from slipping and falling short of the mark. A too long swing or a high trajectory can cause too much turn and lead to overshooting. This is an example of how important it is to pitch the shoes at a uniform height.
Two shoes have equal propelling power. The first shoe is raised to 6 feet. The second is 10 feet tall. This is a difference in height of four feet between the two shoes. The stake may be several inches shorter than the first. The stake may not open because it is too low. It may also be too fast released, which could make it out of line. The stake may be surpassed by the second shoe, which could increase its size by several inches. The second shoe may be too big and out of line, if it wasn’t released quickly enough. The first shoe might strike at the bottom of the stake, while the second may strike at the top. Neither score as a ringer, since they are not open.
It is difficult to pitch accurately because of the large variance in the trajectory. Many novices are afraid to put their feet up in the air. They pitch too low and hard in their attempts to “line up” the stake. Horseshoes are not subject to the same definition of straight lines.
Inability to align the stake can often discourage beginners. Even experts can have “off” days when it comes to securing alignment. Right-handed pitchers tend to pitch to the right side of the stake. Left-handed pitchers throw to the right. The shoe has a maximum distance between its heel-caulks of 3 1/2 inches, and it pitches at 40 feet. This means that even the smallest mistake in delivery will result in a miss.
If you are having trouble lining up, you should check all the basics to find out what is wrong. You may have one mistake, or several. Your stance and footwork should be checked. You should maintain a square stance. Move straight towards the mark. Long strides can lead to a poor trajectory. Be sure to check your grip. Don’t force the turn. Allow the shoe to flow naturally from your hand. The shoe should be extended to your full-arm length. Your aim-point and release point should correspond. This will prevent you from swinging in a different direction. Follow through on every pitch. Be aware of your trajectory. Be calm. Tension destroys co-ordination.
Hazards and Obstacles
Horseshoeing is just as dangerous as golf. Shoes can often block the stakes during a horseshoe match. They will land on the clay edge and wedge their feet against the stakes. It is often impossible to remove such shoes or make a ringer while at the same moment. These are just a few examples of how these hazards and obstacles can occur.
If the opposing shoe is standing up in front the stake, your ringer must be placed over, under, or through the obstruction. You must not throw away one of your shoes to get the other shoe out of the way in a tight game. Shoes that are not yet ringers may be dragged or knocked by another shoe to become ringers. If a shoe is laid, with its toe close to the stake, it can either experience the “break” or the good fortune of another shoe hitting the toe-caulk. Then, flip it over to become a ringer. The unyielding iron from the opposite shoes can increase the risk of losing ringers when capping rings.
There are many other ways to make difficult and clever shots. Prop other shoes against the stakes during practice. You can make ringers if these obstacles are blocking your path to the stakes. This will allow you to overcome similar obstacles in competition. First, you must learn how to make ringers. Next, you will need to master the art of keeping them on your stake.
Flight-Wobble and Landing
Horseshoe pitching is similar to boxing in that there are both “right” and “left” hooks. Left-handed players should attempt to get their ringers to hook onto the stake from left-handed. Left-handed players should use right hooks. This will ensure that the shoes don’t land too far on the stake and reduce rebound. A hooking shoe with good wobble will last longer than one that is too flat or too straight. Good flight-wobble breaks the shoe’s momentum when it lands. The shoe will not rebound if it has enough wobble. The shoe will stay on if it hooks the stake from one side or the other, in the middle of the toe-caulk.
Too much flight-wobble could cause your shoe to fly off the stake. It is also difficult to observe in flight. Too much wrist and arm effort can cause excessive wobble. A faulty grip, especially if your thumb is used to adjust the shoe’s trajectory when you release it, could also be the cause. Expert players may have more wobble than others. It all depends on how they deliver the ball and their grips.
Champion pitchers know that the “breaks” of the game mean a lot. A title can be won or lost depending on how their shoes land. If a shoe’s heel hits the ground first, it will nose dive at the stake. It could either leap away or wedge against the stake. The shoe can turn backwards or skid past the stake if the toe-caulk is first. Best is the “dead-falling” shoe, with all caulks landing simultaneously. Horseshoes must land at least three points, just like planes. They bounce, skid, and roll if they don’t.
Now you have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of pitching. It takes hours of practice to master these fundamentals. You must develop a rhythmic delivery. All sports must have rhythm as their dominant fundamental.
The dictionary defines co-ordination as precision, timing, rhythm and rhythm. It means: “To order things in a proper, relative order; combine for a common purpose or action; harmonize.” The four terms refer to the controlled movement of all fundamentals during delivery in a rhythmic manner.
The perfect example of timing is a pendulum clock. All parts of the clock work in perfect harmony when they are running correctly. The whole mechanism works together as one unit. Every spring, balance-wheel and gear does their job perfectly. There is no unnecessary component that could cause loss of motion. With a steady, unbroken rhythm, the pendulum swings from one side to another. Co-ordination and harmony are possible as long as each component does its job and assists the other. The clock is accurate in time. The swing of the pendulum can become irregular if one of its units stops functioning as it should. Either the clock stops completely or it ceases to function with perfect timing.
This is exactly what happens when a horseshoe pitcher “gets off his game”. Because he/she cannot coordinate the fundamentals, the “pendulum swing”, or pendulum swing, becomes jerky and inaccurate. As they age, many players lose their coordination. This is because they have lost their drive to train and maintain a healthy body. Champions spend more time practicing than they do playing to improve their timing. They are aware that if they don’t train, they will soon lose their status as champions. Nobody ever gets so good that they stop training. Timing is difficult and easily lost.
The Warm Up
Experienced players rarely enter competition without warming up in order to ensure good coordination of their muscles. Because their muscles aren’t working properly, all players have difficulty warming up. After warming up, players “get the feel” of the shoes. How you play will depend on how warm up you do. Take plenty of time to coordinate your muscles.
Many people try to pitch horseshoes, but they don’t realize that it is a science-based game. They fail to get beyond a certain level of proficiency after practicing for some time and not paying enough attention to the fundamentals. They become discouraged and say that they are not good enough to play the game. They may feel lucky if they get a few ringers during a game. They are very lucky, considering how they deliver their shoes. There is some luck involved in every game, but there are other factors that must be considered when pitching ringer after pair of ringers on stakes 40 feet apart.
A skilled pitcher can predict what a horseshoe will do when it is released. This skill can only be acquired through long periods of proper mental and physical training. A player must also have a lot of natural talent, excellent nerve control, patience, and a love for the game. Mastering the scienceof pitches requires that one also masters his emotions. Many promising players are destroyed by bad temperaments or lack of self-discipline.
Do not try to learn all the basics at once. This is impossible. At first it is a mistake to focus all your attention on making ringers. While pitching is the ultimate goal, you should approach it slowly and accurately. You must learn the basics one by one. Waste is waste. A player must be able to “pitch with both the head and the arm.”
How to Use
The shoe may feel heavy at first, but it will become lighter and more comfortable with time. It will take time to get used to the shoe. You should practice on a properly constructed court. Make sure you have the best equipment. Do your best. Pitch the entire distance of 40 feet. The distance for women (and men under 18 years of age) is 30 feet. Do not overdo it, especially in the beginning. This type of exercise is something you need to get used to. Exercising too often can lead to staleness, stiffness and loss of control. A good amount of practice is typically enough to keep one in shape. If you are practicing by yourself, group your shoes into 50 groups and count the points. Without a clear goal in mind, simply tossing the shoes around does not result in self-improvement.
Expert pitchers work hard and smartly to prepare for major tournaments. A meet requires a lot more walking. Good condition must be maintained for the feet and legs. For tough tournament competition, older players may prefer to play four-handed games called partnership. It’s not the amount of training that matters, but how one trains. Stop practicing if you feel tired. Take a break. Fatigue can lead to tension, which can make it difficult for you to concentrate on your playing.
Once you have mastered the art of controlling your shoes, it is time to find good competition with other experienced players. Pitching under pressure develops self-confidence. You must be a good observer and listener. Experts can help you learn a lot. However, don’t try to copy every great pitcher. Many champions have very few personal quirks that might not suit your style. This is where the old saying, “One man’s meat could be another’s poison” applies. If you are able to observe the fundamentals, the purposeful development and improvement of your natural style will be the best way to go.
Nearly all newbies have difficulty elevating their shoes sufficiently high. Ted Allen, one the greatest players in the game, erecting two poles in the middle of his court, one on each side of his pitching lane, was a great way to improve your trajectory. He practiced pitching by using a wire that ran from pole to pole at 8 feet above ground. He learned to pitch at the right height for his style.
Two or more horseshoe pairs can be used when an opponent is not available. Each stake should have a shoe. It’s good to leave it. Consider those ringers as a dummy enemy. Try to beat him. Each inning, score three points for your imaginary opponent. You must pitch more than 50% of the ringers to defeat him. It is a great way to practice topping ringers by pitching against the iron from the opposite shoes.
Concentrate on your game. Experts estimate that mental concentration makes up 75% of the battle. They are often self-hypnotized during intense competition. They are unable to concentrate on the game while they talk and grit their teeth at each pitch.
Nervous Tension (Pressure).
Tournament pitchers have one enemy: “tension”, also known as “pressure”. The atmosphere is charged with tension when two champions meet in a title game. This grips both players and spectators. The factors that determine the winner are endurance, nerve control, and “breaks of game”. In such situations, it’s not uncommon for players to succumb to “pressure.” They become easy targets for their opponents when this happens. All players are subject to pressure at times. It is dishonest to deny it. It’s not a disgrace to feel pressure. It’s normal. It is normal for boxers, singers of opera, and public speakers to experience this. Even race horses can be seen to tremble and perspire before they take to the stage. If tension is not overcome, however, it is fatal for a public performance that is successful.
To overcome pressure, a tournament pitcher must mentally prepare. He/she might be in the best of health and capable of performing well under normal circumstances. If he/she neglects mental training, it will be obvious when he/she is playing against strong competition. Fear does not make a good player anxious. Fear makes a player tense.
Recognizing pressure for what it really is is the first step to defeating it. Pressure is a self-created enemy. It destroys coordination and reduces mental endurance. All public performers, I mean horseshoe pitchers, have developed ways to combat pressure. Each person is affected in a different way, but they can solve their problems in their own ways. Although it is difficult, there are ways to make it easier: (1) Preparation; (2) Physical Control; (3) Correct Mental Attitude.
If you feel tense or anxious during a game of tennis, take your time and slow down. Slow, measured steps are the best way to move from stake to stake. Allow your arms to hang free at your sides. To relax your delivery arm’s muscles, you can shake your wrist and fingers. Lift your arms high above your head, and inhale deeply from your diaphragm. This will help you relax and restore your mental calm. Tension can lead to fatigue which in turn causes tension. Do not let bad mistakes discourage you. You will be a better player once you learn to “mind over muscle”.
Relaxation is key to success in all forms of sports
Horseshoe pitching is one the most healthy of all sports. However, tournament pitching puts more pressure on the player than other sports. Between strokes, a golfer has plenty to do nothing but relax. You can throw a great game of baseball, even if you miss the plate several times. To be successful in a horseshoe tournament, a player must throw 70-80% of the ringers. The opponents will cancel more than 75% of these rings. Two players will each pitch their shoes and then walk 40 feet to the opposite stake to return the shoes. This is a continuous, long-lasting action. National Tournaments can see players pitch up to 3,000 shoes. Every pitch is filled with competitive tension and pressure.
A horseshoe isn’t “pitched,” “tossed”, or “thrown” in reality. It is swung. The swing is the regulator of pitching distance. The swing has three parts. There are three parts to the swing: (1) The Back-swing, (2) The Front-swing, and (3) The Follow through. Swing is the most difficult fundamental to master. This is where most horseshoe pitchers fail to master. Although most players have the same grip, stance, and step, the key difference is their swing.
A good swing requires the use of many muscles that are not often used in the arm and shoulder. These muscles need to be strengthened over time. This takes patience. Inexperienced players that fail to properly warm-up and train before competing can fall prey to tension or “ringer mortis”. Their swings become stiff-armed pushing motions when the pressure is on and the chips are low. It is hard to break the bad habit of using stiff-armed delivery. Swing must be smooth and rhythmic. The arm should not be strained at all.
Allow the shoe to swing backwards in an easy way. You can extend it as far as you like, but not so much that it causes discomfort to your shoulder and arm muscles. Too far back can cause your body to twist to one direction and pull you off balance. Your head may rise higher or lower than your back-swing. It all depends on how your delivery method and the muscle development of your shoulder. To ensure elevation and distance, a long swing is the best.
Step forward just before the end of your back-swing. Do not allow your shoe to stop at the end. Allow the shoe’s weight to propel you forward. Release the shoe when the shoe is aligned with your eyes and the stake. This is not the end of the swing. In the follow-through, the hand swings up above the head. Like a pendulum, the arm swings from the shoulder to the side. This is known as the “pendulum swing”. The wrist and arm movements are smooth, with no snapping or jerking. Every movement is rhythmic and perfectly coordinated with the step.
Both the forward and backward swings should be identical. Both swings should be initiated by the shoe’s weight. Your arm should not be used to propel the shoe. This is done with your body weight. Do not rush your forward or backward swings. Try to keep your swing in line and within the stake. You can’t deny that a poor swing can ruin more potential good players than anything else.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!