Horseshoes are an exciting and fun game to play, especially in your backyard, but it is difficult to master because you need to employ some strategy to play and enjoy the game.
And those strategies to master while playing the game are the grip, the stance, and the swing technique. Understanding all these elements is the first step in throwing Horseshoes like a Pro.
While horseshoe is a physical game, it still involves a lot of mental preparation and alertness if you are great at the game.
In this article, you will learn how to throw a horseshoe Like a Pro, and you will also learn other tips that improve your physical and mental alertness to play a good game of Horseshoes.
How To Play Horseshoe Like A Pro
In simple terms, horseshoe can be described as a non-contact game played on a lawn between 2 people or 2 teams made of 2 persons per team.
The game aims to throw your horseshoe in a way that encircles the stake or gets it as close to the stake as possible. You don’t want your opponent’s horseshoe to be closer to the stake than yours, or else they win.
As the case may be, each person or team gets two horseshoes and throws them both when it is their turn. You can decide on how much game you play before the game starts, depending on how much time and competitive spirit the competitors have.
There are different variations of scoring systems, but the commonest for the friendly competition is that a point is awarded for any horseshoe within 6 inches of the stake when a ringer is scored (this is when the horseshoe lands around the stake). For horseshoes that don’t circle the stake but lean against it, 2 points are awarded.
For professional play, however, the 4 horseshoes are thrown around, and the person whose horseshoes land closest to the stakes gets awarded a point. A player gets 2 points if they’ve thrown 2 of their horseshoes closer than the opponents.
When a player throws 2 ringers, they get awarded 6 points, but if each of the players or team members from the different teams get a ringer each, their 3 points cancel out, and they both get no point.
A game comes to an end for professional play when a player or team gets 21 points, but you are free to determine how many points you can call a day for friendly duels.
Two main grips are professional for horseshoe, and they are the 1¼ grip and the 1¾; these all represent the number of turns a horseshoe makes in flight. (We will dwell much on them a little later).
Stance in horseshoe means how you stand while throwing a horseshoe, and for professionals, you must maintain a square shape with your left foot some inches back of the right foot. The swinging technique adopted by professionals involves some intricate footwork and swinging positions that we will deal with much later.
The Elements Of Horseshoe Game
When one describes the horseshoe game or even sees people playing the game, it seems very simple; until you get into the pitch to play, you will understand that there is nothing easy about playing the game.
Different elements come together to form this great game. Understanding each of these elements will make you great at the game. Here are the different elements that are involved in playing horseshoe:
There are different styles used in delivery in horseshoes there are some of them are smooth and right, and there are still many that are not.
Delivery involves some fundamentals; below are the delivery fundamentals arranged in the proper sequence:
(1) The pitching grips
(4) Pendulum swing
(5) The follow-through
The Pitching Grips and Different Turns
The first fundamentals in delivery in horseshoe are to have a proper hold on the shoe; there are different ways that many people hold the shoe before they throw depending on the size of their hand and fingers and the method for releasing the horseshoe. There are different ways of gripping a Horseshoe if you want it to land at stake, and they are:
1. The 1¼ Turn Grip:
This is a very popular grip in which the horseshoe is thrown to rotate the horseshoe sideways 1¼ turns in the air before it lands. Turns in horseshoe refers to the number of revolutions a horseshoe makes when in flight.
You can achieve this by gripping the horse how with your thumb on top of the closest shank, while the middle and index finger are kept underneath the shank so that it curls up onto the inner edge.
You should balance the hold by pressing the pinky finger against the horseshoe. Left-handed people should hold the horseshoe pointed to the right side.
2: The 1¾ Turn Grip
This grip is much like the 1¼ grip, but in this case, the shank of the horseshoe points to your right. The fingers and things are placed around the horseshoe bend and not on the shank.
The finger position is important in delivering a horseshoe, and the finger should be wrapped around the shank while the thumbs should be extended across the top of the shank, just the same way you hold a dinner table between the thumb and finger.
When you are about to turn the shoe for a swing, start your backswing and turn the shoe to vertical position and leave it so until it passes your leg in your forward swing and then you can now bring the shoe back to a level position by a free and natural roll if the arm.
When the shoe comes in direct line with your eyes and the opposite stake, then you can release the horseshoes by relaxing your fingers.
Here are points to remember about regulating the turn of the horseshoe:
1. Spinning the shoe too much usually results in the shoe taking more than 2 turns which is not ideal.
2. The grip and delivery method determine how much turn a shoe makes in flight.
3. A shoe should turn more than once but less than twice when it is in flight.
4. You can raise the trajectory (this is the elevation of the shoe in flight) if your turn is too slow, and if your turn is too fast, you will have to lower the trajectory.
5. You can best regulate the turn by raising or lowering the trajectory so that you don’t have to change your grip
How To Release The Horseshoe
To correctly release your shoe, you must know the right time to relax your finger for the release, and you can only know this time by practicing a lot.
Before you release the shoe, your grip should not be too loose or tight; it should be flexible and yet firm. Too tight a grip results in strain on the hand and wrist which could cause the shoe to flop over when it is in flight.
If the grip is not firm, it may slip from your finger before you are ready to release the shoe, or the shot might not turn enough.
This is one of the most important fundamentals of a horseshoe; how you stand will invariably determine how you throw. There are different types of stance that many professionals favor, and each of them follows these rules:
1. At no time should your stand be tense or rigid.
2. Your muscles must be free from tension, and your body should be naturally erect, even though a slight crouch is still okay.
3. Ensure that you are standing on one side, on a line, even with the stake. The left-handed player stands on the right-hand side of the stake, while the right-handed player stands to the left of the stake.
4. You should not stand in the clay around the stake but on the pitcher’s platform.
5. Your delivery arm must be kept in line with the stake.
6. You should always assume a “square stance,” that is, you should always stand with your shoulder square with the court while facing the opposite stake.
One of the stances that are quite popular is when a player stands with the left foot 6 to 8 inches back of the right, and all the bodyweight then rests on the right foot, while the left foot gives balance to the body.
Use your normal walking step that is easy and comfortable to have the right propelling power behind your shoe. If you take a longer stride, you will cause a low trajectory because you are thrown off balance.
You take the step about the exact moment the shoe passes the standing leg during the front swing. You must time the step to coincide with the swing, and the right-handed player should step forward with his left foot while the left-handed will step ahead first with the right foot.
Developing perfect coordination of the leg and arm enables a player to have a longer swing, a seamless follow-through a well-balanced delivery.
The Pendulum Swing
Three parts make up a swing, and they include:
(1) The Backswing
(2) The Front-swing
(3) The Follow-through.
In doing the back and forward swing, you should allow the shoe’s weight to start the swing. And put no propelling power behind the shoe with your arm.
Take both the forward and backward swings carefully, ensuring that the swing is in line with the stake all the time.
A good follow-through starts with taking a good stance, which is part of the body swing. The follow-through is just a continuation of the swing as it completes the circle, and it is the short distance traveled by the hand before it starts to rise higher than the head.
Getting Ready To Play A Game Of Horses
There are different things you have to do in getting ready to play a game of horseshoe, including
1. The Warm-up: a professional horseshoe player will not start a competition without warming up; first, this is to ensure that the muscles have good coordination. Before you start warming up, you might feel tense, but a few minutes will get you ready to play the game
2. Before you start playing the game of horseshoes – The shoe will feel cumbersome and heavy, but as you keep practicing over and over again on a well-built court and good equipment, you will master the sport. The idea is to spend a lot of time practicing and ensuring that you are improving in the game. Be sure to stop practicing when you get fagged out.
3. Look for ways of playing non-competitive games with experienced players to develop self-confidence; there is something about playing with someone better at the game than you; it also helps you access your performance objectively. The idea is not to copy the experienced player’s style of play but rather to closely observe them, listen and learn from them.
4. You should learn to remain focused at all times when playing the game; this is because the game of horseshoe involves 75% of mental concentration. Don’t be surprised to see horseshoe professionals who appear to be snobbish when involved in a competition; they are just trying to concentrate on their game.
5. Relaxation is the key to success in most games, and so you must ensure you are not tense or nervous when playing the game of horseshoe. Pressure destroys coordination and keeps one from mental and physical endurance. Preparation and training, proper mental attitude, and physical control are key to dealing with pressure while playing the game of horseshoe.
Horseshoe is a great game getting more popular by the day; it is a simple game to play and an interesting one to watch.
If you want to play the game like a professional, you must understand the different elements that make up the game, from the grip to the stance, the swing, and the follow-through.
Mental concentration is key in playing this great game, and so is being relaxed. Quality time spent in practice and warm-up ate some of the ways you can physically prepare to play this game.
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We trust this article helped you learn how to throw a horseshoe like a pro. You may also want to check out: How Much A Set Of Horseshoes Cost?
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