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How to practise Horseshoe Pitching

Many of you are probably wondering how to start with horseshoe pitching? and especially how to train for it? Balders felt it was necessary to take an insight into the basics of horseshoe pitching and how training can be optimized. To do this, we have been inspired and borrowed the material available from US horseshoe pitching. We list below 10 steps that are crucial for achieving results in the sport.

Get ready - Set your mental state

First and foremost, you as a beginner should understand the importance of exercising. But not just any practice, it should be quality practice. Learn about famous athletes' wisdom, understand the connection between hard training and success. Invite a pitcher for a cup of coffee or a beer, learn from his experiences. Suck it up and make sure you get what it takes to succeed.

"It´s not how good you are, It´s how good you want to be"

Start Practice

Make sure you have one or more of the key components of horseshoe pitching in mind (Swing, Step, Distance, Height, etc.) when you do practice. If you are more experienced, remind yourself that you too should practice the basics from time to time to ensure you are not developing bad habits that could undermine your game.


Step 1 - Drill: Air Toss & Catch

Toss a horseshoe in the air vertically in front of you about 1 foot up then catch it as it comes back down. You should try to get the horseshoe to flip once or turn once (depending on if they flip or turn) while it is in the air. This simple exercise will help you gain hand-eye coordination while envisioning a flip or turn. In short order you should master this drill. The long term benefits are seen when you start pitching distances.

Step 2 - Drill: Imaginary Stake

One of the most critical keys to starting out, is to get rid of the stake for the first week of the practice. The mechanics of horseshoe pitching are better learned without the distraction of trying to make ringers (when the shoe is around the stake). If the mechanics are learned and mastered, success at making ringers will come in short order. For this drill, you should mark out the correct distance from where you pitch from to where the stake would be. This drill allows you to work on many components (Swing, Step, Distance, Height, etc.) depending on the focus area you need to work on.


Step 3 - Learning the turn shoe

When learning to pitch a turn, try a number of different grips. A beginner must start with a proper hold on the shoe. It is impossible to establish a fixed rule relative to the grips. Very few of the champions hold and deliver their shoes alike. This is because of the variation in the size and shape of their hands, the length of their fingers and methods of release. After some time you will be able to determine which is best suited for you. Don't worry about ringers because without an open shoe hitting the peg is pointless. You should practice just trying to land the shoe open until you can do it 50% of the time. Then and only then are you ready to focus on hitting the peg and scoring ringers by the dozens.

…if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.

Vince Lombardi

Step 4 - The Swing

To achieve the best and quickest results you need a good smooth straight swing. When taking the horseshoe back into the back swing try to keep your shoulders square to your target and take the horseshoe straight back . Don't get the horseshoe tied up behind you back or let it drift out away from you body at the top of the back swing, either case will make it difficult to have a straight follow through to the stake.

Step 5 - Practice with purpose

A practice session should be broke down into 3 or 4 sections. The warm-up period which is as stated time to get loose (about 10 minutes). Then comes the tune in phase which is where I might try to adjust something. After you done some experimenting, pitch groups of 40 shoes at a time. Visualize yourself an opponent, a personal best, a competition. Keep focus, push yourself!

"your horseshoes are always telling you a story"

Step 6 - Know your weakness

Everyone has one, whether it be pitching short shoes, missing right, over-turning, etc your horseshoes are always telling you a story. If you don't know your weakness, go out and pitch 40 shoes and mark down where each miss is. Review the results. It will take some patience, possibly some adjustments but once you have fixed your weaknesses your percentage will go up leaps and bounds.

Step 7 - Expand the strike zone

Just like in bowling where the goal is to find an angle into the pocket which gives you the biggest margin of area and still strike, horseshoes is the same. The ultimate goal is to get your alignment down to a point where half of your misses are on the left side of the stake and half on the right. Which will in turn mean more around the stake. Open up the strike zone, use the whole horseshoe and get more ringers.

"Be STRONG when you are weak, be BRAVE when you are scared, and HUMBLE when you are victorious"

Step 8 - Consistency is the Key

Unlike most sports which there is typically a defined right way and wrong way to achieve results, horseshoe pitching is a game where any number of different techniques such as swings, grips, heights, speeds can all still achieve the same ultimate response, the perfect ringer. Find a swing/ style that works for you, then just keep practicing it until it becomes as natural as walking.

Step 9 - Set-up

As you practice you should come up with a routine. Once you develop this routine you should always follow the same routine, be it in practice or in a tournament. This way it becomes natural and reliable. Under the pressure of a tournament sometimes it is difficult to think but you can still draw some level of confidence knowing that if you go through your normal routine, a ringer will be the result.

Step 10 - Mental Training

The final step. You need to find your mental focus, your "zone" to achieve results. If you are a former athlete you have often developed a routine around your mental focus. But this area can also be developed. We see Yoga as a very good workout where mindfulness and focus on your breathing can help you find the right mental focus, you need to be "here" not "there" to reach your goals and achieve great success on the horseshoe pitching arena. Good Luck!


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