Are you planning to play a game of horseshoes with friends this weekend? Then, you’re probably wondering how you can improve your horseshoe throw. Horseshoe throwing might seem like an easy skill, but it is quite difficult to master. If you’ve ever talked to horseshoe pitchers, they’ll tell you that you don’t just pick up a horseshoe and throw it.
A decent aim won’t cut it if you want to win your next horseshoe game. Pulling off the perfect horseshoe throw requires a good grip, stance and control. This guide aims to teach you how to pitch a horseshoe like a pro.
Horseshoe Grips And Pitching Techniques
You have to pay great attention to your grip if you want to improve your horseshoe throw. A proper grip can make a difference between a poor throw and an accurate one. Let’s take a look at various grips and pitching techniques that you can try out.
The first thing you need to do is position your fingers in the right places. Extend your thumb across the top of the shanks and put your index and middle fingers underneath the horseshoe.
Note: The shanks are the sides of the horseshoe.
The 1 ¼ Turn Grip
The 1 ¼ Turn Grip is common among professional horseshoe players. It involves holding your horseshoe by the sides and allowing it to rotate 1 ¼ times in the air before landing around the stake.
Note: While pulling off the 1 ¼ turn grip, the horseshoe will point to your left side if you’re pitching with your right hand. However, it points to your right side if you’re left-handed.
1 2/4 Or ¾ Turn Grip
This grip is quite similar to the 1 ¼ grip, but this time the horseshoe shank should point to your right side before you throw. Position your hand on the shanks and put the pinky finger at the bottom of the horseshoe for support.
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The 3/4 (Or 1 3/4) Grip
For the 3/4 or 1 3/4 turn, you must hold the horseshoe with the shanks pointing to your right side if you are right-handed and to the left side if you are left-handed. However, the rest of the grip is identical to the 1 ¼ grip.
The Flip Grip
You can throw the horseshoe horizontally toward the opposite stake using the flip grip technique. It entails pressing the top of the shoe with your thumb and running your index, middle and ring fingers along the edge. Finally, place your pinky finger at the bottom for support.
How To Select A Turn
You have to experiment for a while to find the most suitable turn or grip for your pitching. Once you choose a turn, stick with it and spend time trying to master it.
Warning: Changing your turn after mastering it can affect the quality of your throws.
Unorthodox Or "Off" Turns
Many beginners start off with ¾ turn because it is easy to pull off. Eventually, they deceive themselves into believing that it is the right turn for them. Ensure you try out the different turn and flip techniques before selecting the one you’re comfortable with.
Note: Avoid using single and double-flop shoes techniques, as they make it easy for the wind to affect your throw.
The grip is only one of the requirements for successful horseshoe pitching. Your stance is also crucial. When pitching horseshoes, there are two types of stances.
Square Stance – The square stance requires an erect and relaxed posture. Right-handed players have to stand on the left side of the stake and square their shoulders. Finally, your right arm must be in line with the stakes.
Note: For the square stance, you must stand on the right side of the stake if you’re left-handed.
- Perfect Balance – The perfect balance stance involves transferring your entire body weight on your rear foot before throwing. Slightly bend your body forward and relax your hips and knees. Smoothly shift the body weight to the front foot as you take a forward step to throw the horseshoe.
Learn horseshoe rules by reading our blog post.
Just before releasing the horseshoe, pay attention to your grip. Make sure it’s not too tight or too loose. Release the horseshoe at a point during your swing that will allow it to arc through the air and catch the stake.
Click here for detailed information on the proper distance between horseshoe stakes.
If you’re good at bowling, then you should have no problem swinging a horseshoe. After gripping the horseshoe, bring your delivery arm backward and keep your shoulders square. Step forward, keep your arm straight and release the horseshoe toward the stake. A horseshoe swing has three stages.
- Back Swing – This part of the swing starts with the arm extended out in front of the pitcher. Muscles are relaxed and the weight of the shoe and arm allows for an easy swing.
- Front Swing – The front swing is the natural continuation of the backswing. The weight of the shoe and arm causes the arm to come forward.
- Follow Through – Following the release of the shoe, the arm continues on its natural path forward and above your head until you lose momentum.
Go here to learn about horseshoe pit size.
Like with all sports, warm-up is important in horseshoe pitching. Before doing anything, take some time to warm up to ensure good coordination of the muscles.
Warning: Failure to warm up causes muscle stiffness and will likely affect your performance.
How To Practice
The horseshoe might be heavy the first time you hold it, but you’ll start to feel more comfortable with practice. Practice on a good court and use regulation equipment to become accustomed to the standards of league competitions.
Tip: Avoid over-practicing as it can cause arm injuries.
Components Of Horseshoes
Let’s briefly examine the components of horseshoes in case you have trouble identifying them.
- Base – The horseshoe base is the U-shaped middle section.
- Shank – The shanks are the extended straight arms from the base. These parts are wide and flat on most horseshoes.
- Heel Caulk – The blunt projection on a horseshoe shank.
- Hook – The hook is the inner edge of the horseshoe edge, which hooks onto the stake when you score a ringer.
- Thumb Cleat – This is the raised ridge on the base of the horseshoe. You’re likely to use this part during a flip throw.
- Edge – Sports horseshoes are slightly different from traditional ones as they have a straight edge that you can grip for smoother and better-controlled throws.
Tips For A Horseshoe Throw
Now that we have explained everything a beginner needs to know about horseshoe pitching let’s go over some tips that can help you improve your throws.
- Practice in an open space with level patch ground to have proper foot balance.
- Keep finding new ways to learn. Watch clips of horseshoe pitchers and take note of their strategies.
- Take more time to practice. Work on your grip, pitching stance, swings and release.
- Have fun while playing. This makes it easier to master the game.
- Don’t be in a hurry to learn it all in one day. Take your time to slowly improve your stance, grip and throw.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you throw a horseshoe, it is called pitching. Horseshoe pitching involves throwing horseshoes to encircle a vertical iron peg called a stake. According to the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, the distance between the pitcher and the targeted stake must be 40 feet (12.1 m). Player throws that result in the horseshoe hanging around the stake are worth three points each.
You can properly throw a horseshoe by perfecting your grip, stance, turns and swings. A good grip sets the tone for a great horseshoe throw, so spend some time determining which grip is most comfortable for you. After that, try proper stance and throw techniques and continue to practice them.
There are 50 throws in a horseshoe. Players take turns throwing two horseshoes at stakes spaced 40 feet (12.1 m) apart. The goal is to get your horseshoe to encircle the stake and hang around it. You get six points if you can get both horseshoes to hang around the stake in a round.
After all, practice is the most important factor for successful horseshoe pitching. If you follow the instructions in this guide, you’ll quickly improve your horseshoe throw and be able to dominate games against your friends. Make sure you have fun while winning, as that is the goal of every game.