How to put on a
Horseshoe Pitching CLINIC
This outline, with your own little
modifications, will give you an idea of how to go about putting on a
horseshoe pitching clinic. Getting started on something seems to be
the key to getting things done. This should give you a jump start on
putting on that clinic that you've always been talking about.
This is just a suggestion of presentation
material and commentary. There are probably more transparencies and
commentary than what you will be able to use and still keep your
audience interested. Pick out the stuff for a beginners clinic and
use it for that. Pick out the stuff for a more advanced clinic and
use it for that. After all, YOU will be the presenter.
DATE, TIME, and PLACE to hold Clinic
PURPOSE OF CLINIC:
1. Recruit new pitchers
2. Information for those who "know it all"
3. General information for the public
4. Sign-up for league play
5. Information for those wavering on joining a club
6. Part of your Club's Open House
7. Orientation before your club begins league play
8. Starting a new Club
9. Recreation Department Information
10. (You can add to this list.)
If inside, have a portable court setup.
If outside, on the courts, have a presentation area with seating,
electrical power, and free from the wind. You could use a building
for the classroom portion and then go out to the courts for
Chief presenter, presenter assistant, demonstrators (the "good"
pitchers), registrar, fees collector, handout provider, court setup
crew (all staff should wear their horseshoe pitching shirts). The
chief presenter should definitely be the most informed person on
horseshoe pitching "book work".
Overhead projector, transparencies for the presentation, video
player and monitor, video: Basics of Horseshoe Pitching, a
fully equipped horseshoe pitching box, different brands of
horseshoes, hooks, and other pitching equipment.
HANDOUTS: The least that a clinic could bring about is "free"
information. Make sure people go away in hand with something about
horseshoe pitching. Gather and have plenty of handouts about your
local club, state association, NHPA, NHPF, where to buy horseshoes
and equipment, horseshoe pitching newsletters, NHPA Newsline
magazine, and whatever else you can gather and make copies of.
and treats are always an ice breaker
and gives people something to do when coming in.
Displays: You could also have a display area showing
individual pitchers trophies and awards (trophies that no one sees
after they are won), different brands of horseshoes, newspaper
articles about horseshoe pitching, pictures, and whatever else you
may think people would be interested in. Anything to peak their
Through your local recreation department, poster fliers, sending out
personal postcards, newspaper articles, radio, local cable TV
bulletin boards, posting on the internet, state horseshoe
association newsletters, word of mouth, and you may know of other
1. Set-up all equipment and make
sure it works
2. Set-up tables for handouts, displays, horseshoes and equipment,
3. Register people as they come in
4. Give them "handouts"
5. Take any fees for joining the club and leagues (have applications
available for local and state organizations)
6. Make sure everyone has a place to sit or stand and to be able to
see the video and overhead projector screens
7. Turn on Overhead Projector
8. (Slide 1) Welcome them to the clinic and the great game of
9. Introduce Clinic Staff
SHOW VIDEO: Basics of Horseshoe Pitching
PROCEED with remaining set of overhead transparencies
END with demonstrations and "guests" pitching on the courts.
Answer personal questions by directing them to the proper people.
CLINIC STAFF Introductions
1. Welcome everyone to the
2. Introduce Self; clinic staff participants/pitchers and say
sometime about each on their horseshoe pitching careers; and
other distinguished people in the audience
3. Say that you invited NHPA President Dave Loucks to the
Clinic, but he sent a video instead that you will show
4. Show video: Basics of Horseshoe Pitching
1. Local Club Flier
2. State Association Flier
3. NHPA Rules and Flier
4. Lucky Shoe Pro Shop
5. NHPF Flier
6. Other Information
For a breaker after the video
Horseshoe pitching is a family Sport. Horseshoe pitching boasts
of being one of the few sports that has a national champion for
men, women, boys, girls, senior men and women, elder men, and
can still be played in one's backyard. It can be played by one
or more and by the young as well as the old.
Briefly explain each handout piece
What is it?
Fees: Local Club Horseshoe Clubs
Fees: State Association Membership
and League play
Fees: NHPA Membership and
Fees: World Tournament structure
1. Explain what
a sanctioned court is: Courts meet the specifications and safety
standards of the NHPA, can hold sanctioned tournaments on the
2. Explain what a sanctioned club is: Courts meet the above
standards and all members must belong to the State/NHPA
Explain what the local, state and NHPA fees are, State
Newsletters and the NHPA Newsline Magazine $12 per year (show
them). Say something about the World Tournament setup,
locations, class play, how many days it takes, etc. World
Tournament: $100 entry fee payout 7 places (16 in a round
robin); Clubs bidding need a building for 48 portable courts,
plenty of good camping and motel space is needed (Usually about
1500 participants, families, spectators, etc.)
1. Educate the Public
About and Promote the game of horseshoes
2. Build a Hall of Fame, Museum & Library
in Joelton, Tennessee
Location has a building with 18 courts
and an open sided building with 20 more
Contributions are tax
P.O. Box 159027
Nashville, TN 37215
Commentary 4 (Suggested)
1. The National Horseshoe Pitchers Foundation was formed in 1996
under the guidance of NHPA President Dave Loucks. Dr. Jack
Freeman of Nashville, Tennessee, donated 65 acres of land which
has a building with 18 courts and an open sided building with 20
more. The grounds are located about 10 miles northeast of
Nashville. The NHPF eventually will have camping and motel space
available to host a World Tournament within a few years.
Prominent tournaments are now held there yearly.
Comment of what this will mean when the NHPA has a "home base"
in Joelton, TN; (similar to the Bowling Hall of Fame in St.
3. Make sure they have access to the new NHPF brochure.
4. World tournaments will be held there when no club makes a
Horseshoe pitching is
patterned after the game of quoits*. Quoits is a modification of
an old Grecian game of discus throwing. The camp followers of
the Grecian armies, who could not afford the discus, took
discarded horseshoes, set up a stake and began tossing
horseshoes at the stake.
The first horseshoe pitching tournament in which competition was
open to the World was held in the summer of 1909 in Bronson,
Kansas. The winner was Frank Jackson. The stakes were only 2"
*Quoit: A ring of rope or metal
Commentary 5 (Suggested)
1. Comment on the games of Quoits and Washers
2. First tournament in 1909, yes, stakes were only 2 inches high
3. Point out current champs, (use Newsline Magazine with that
information), Ted Allen: 10 world championships
4. Walter Ray Williams, Jr. on how he promotes the game, demos
during bowling season, etc.
5. Point out current State Champs
6. Local, State and World Champions, if any from local State
and/or surrounding area
WHY PITCH HORSESHOES?
Throwing, bending, reaching,
walking, working the clay
Local clubs, sanctioned tournaments,
life long friends, practice alone or with someone
Can be made as serious and as fun as you want
There's no advantage of being young
or old, male or female
Commentary 6 (Suggested)
1. It has been said that a round robin horseshoe tournament is
more strenuous than a round of golf, you will know it if you
haven't pitched for awhile when you brush your teeth the next
Round robins of 6-7 take 3-4 hours to play
State Tournament = 2 days of round robins
World Tournament = 3 days of round robins
OBJECT of PITCHING SHOES
1. Score Ringers (Usually the one pitching
the most ringers wins)
2. Get the Top Score
first (Backyard: 11, 21, 25;
35, 40, etc.)
3. Lead after the Shoe
Count is completed
(24, 40, 50 shoes, etc.)
Commentary 7 (Suggested)
1. Ringers win games, but not always, points are important
Backyard: 11-15-21-25 point count
League Doubles, 12 innings, 24 shoes each player
League Singles, 40-50 shoes
State Tournament: 40 pts.; State sanctioned play: 35 pts.
State Doubles Tournament: 50 shoes per team, count all
World Tournament: 40 shoes (3 hour time slots have to be kept to
keep tournament moving
2. World Tournament Championship play: 40 pts. (Jim Wiltse 75,
MI vs Frank Buhan 84, PA, threw 96 shoes in one game '99 WT)
Commentary 8 (Suggested)
1. Point out the parts of the shoe and purpose of parts
2. Explain what a balance shoe means: Try to find a shoe that
will turn or flip with your style of pitching. Try different
models of shoes to find the right "fit" for your pitching style.
3. 40+ or more styles of pitching shoes
4. About a dozen manufacturers
5. Order from Lucky Shoe Pro Shop, or any NHPA distributor
6. What shoe to pitch? Deadeye, Allen, Imperial, Diamond, M & M,
Gordon, Mustang, Ohio, any many others, try them to see the
All shoes must be sanctioned and approved by the NHPA
1. Weigh no more than 2 lbs.,
(there are no minimum standards)
2. Not exceed 7-1/4 inches in width
3. Not exceed 7-5/8 inches in length
4. Opening of the shoe must not exceed 3-1/2 inches.
(A 1/8 inch tolerance to 3-5/8 inches is allowed on used shoes)
5. May not exceed one inch in thicknes
Commentary 9 (Suggested)
1. Explain the specifications
2. Explain how the shoes are checked at the World Tournament,
must fit in the "shoe check box," sold by Lucky Shoe Pro Shop
Commentary 10 (Suggested)
1. Explain the difference between an indoor and outdoor set-up,
2. Emphasize safety, fencing, removing stakes if not fenced
(10 ft. minimum distance between courts)
The Pitching Court
1. 40 foot Distance: measured
front to front of each stake
2. Back stops: 12" high
3. Pitching platforms: 18" wide
4. Stakes: 1" cold rolled steel, 14-15" high,
measured perpendicular from pit area with 78° (3 inch) lean
5. Foul lines: 36" in front of stakes
6. Pitching platform and pit area: 6 feet square
Commentary 11 (Suggested)
1. Continue from #10 with court information
CLICK ON THE
CLAY (blue or potters)
(Klawog sells for $8.95 per 50 lb. bag in skids of 40 bags, plus
$2.00 a lb.
Commentary 13 (Suggested)
1. Sand: not good for indoor pits
Some mixtures of sand work best for outside
2. Poor clay can be mixed with sawdust to hold moisture
is good when played on and worked often (putty like substance)
4. Synthetic clay used by the Sarbaugh Courts in Ohio and in Las
Vegas tournament, it is dustless
5. Those who haven't pitched in clay usually don't like it at
the beginning, why? One needs to hit the stake, no sliders, sand
or dirt is gouged out into a real "pit", most of the time clay
isn't prepared correctly
6. Clay is the preferred pit mix, however, some sanctioned
tournaments are held on courts with sand pits
OTHER EQUIPMENT & ITEMS
Horseshoe carrying box,
Hooks, gloves, file, calipers, band aids,
1. Always wear comfortable clothes & shoes
2. NHPA Jackets, caps, shirts, tee-shirts,
Commentary 14 (Suggested)
1. Show samples of equipment,
SHOW what's in a horseshoe pitchers box
2. Hooks (can't be any longer than 36" and have more than a 2"
protrusion, for safety purposes)
3. Point out what pitchers wear at tournaments, NHPA clothing,
(Lucky Shoe Pro Shop carries clothing items)
4. Wearing apparel need not be expensive. The shoes on your feet
should be comfortable and have soles that will grip the surface
on which you are to stand. Any type of sportswear will do, but
it should be two things, comfortable and neat. A players last
name, hometown and state should be on the back of their shirt in
two inch letters. The first name should be on the front of the
shirt. By wearing your pitching clothes every time you play, you
will never be conscious of your attire when you compete, thereby
eliminating one more possible distraction. (Some State
Associations and the World Tournament require you to wear a
(37 feet for 40 footers
and 27 feet for 30 footers)
2. Elders, Females,
Juniors pitch at 30 feet
(Those under age 70, who qualify under
the NHPA health clause, pitch at 30 feet)
3. Stay on pitching
platform when pitching
4. Agree on the score before picking
up the shoes
5. Court Maintenance
Commentary 15 (Suggested)
Expand on whatever you want to talk about for Rules
1. Have a "demonstrator"
point out foul lines with demonstrations
2. Stay on platform
3. Don't pick up shoes until score is agreed upon
4. Don't walk in vision line of another pitcher
5. All pitchers must maintain the courts
6. Can't step on or level clay during play without opponent
7. Can't paint stakes during play without opponent permission
8. Demonstrate HOW TO
WATER & TURN THE CLAY
1. Flip a shoe to
see who starts game
2. Shake hands before and after competition
3. Step off to right in front
of pit after pitching
4. Stand quietly, behind opposite platform
when not pitching
5. Be a good sport-- win or lose
6. Encourage and help each other
to enjoy the game
Commentary 16 (Suggested)
USE WHATEVER YOU WANT FROM THIS LIST
1. A player is expected to stand at the back of the opposite
pitching platform, out of vision range while the opponent is
2. During mixed play (mixed distance) the short distance pitcher
must walk to the rear of the full distance platform
3. Exit the pitching platform in a clockwise rotation (unless
pitching a left-handed player). Enter the pitching platform from
the rear of behind the player pitching first.
4. Harassment will not be tolerated, either by spectators or
5. If the conduct of your opponent is other than acceptable,
please do not put your "brand" on them; see the director or the
6. Loud profanity is not acceptable (we all mutter on occasion).
7. Stay within the boundaries of your court.
8. Do not pick up the shoes until the opponent has had time to
observe the position of the shoes and mutual agreement is
reached as to their value.
9. Be aware of the foul line, you may not touch it with your
foot while delivering the shoe.
10. Carry your own, accurate, measuring tools.
11. You are encouraged to settle point determinations. If you
cannot agree on a point or a ringer please call for a judge.
12. The decision of the judge is final.
13. Please observe carefully before leaving your immediate
court. It is discourteous to walk in the line of vision of
14. Painting stakes and leveling the clay during play is not
allowed unless agreed upon by you and your opponent. Stepping on
the clay to level it during play is not allowed unless the
15. Please do not take extended breaks during play.
16. There may be times when you disagree with the way the Club
conducts league play. Please take the issue to a Club officer as
there may be a reason that is not readily apparent.
17. Each player is expected to water (if needed) and turn a pit
prior to commencing a game.
18. Use proper scoring calls and always look at the scorekeeper
when calling the score.
loss in competitive spirit, all participants shall maintain a
friendly, civil attitude with one another, officials,
scorekeepers and spectators, all of whom are expected to
reciprocate in like manner. Boasting, fault finding, whining and
complaining only serve to lessen respect for individuals and for
should be based on skill,
not distraction or psychology.
Commentary 17 (Suggested)
1. Read the overhead, taken from NHPA unwritten rules
2. Same "Quiet" rule that applies to tennis and golf is also
used in horseshoe pitching
3. If things aren't to your liking, you can always become an
executive committee member and help change things and help run
4. You have 30 seconds to deliver both shoes. Don't rush, but
don't stall and delay the game
1. Count all (All
points are counted)
2. Cancellation (Ringers cancel,
closest point counts)
3. Backyard Rules (11, 21, 25, etc.)
4. League Rules for various leagues
Ringers = 3 points
Within 6 inches = 1 point OR
Within width of shoe = 1 point
Commentary 18 (Suggested)
1. Explain and/or demo each
2. Use doubles 12 inning score sheet to demo count all (one that
is already filled out)
3. Use World Tournament score sheet to demo cancellation (one
that is already filled out)
4. Show how to use the 6" gauge on the hook (Demonstrate on
overhead projector: What is a ringer, no 3 pt. touch)
Commentary 19 (Suggested)
(Hugs and kisses method
of score keeping)
1. Sanctioned, singles/tournament scoring, pitcher that scores
calls the score
2. Doubles, the score call is different, everyone scores, i.e.
(4 Darrell - 3 Mike or, 4-3 Darrell)
3. Make sure to look at the scorekeeper when calling the score.
Why? Noise factor, hearing impairment, lips and sound can be put
together, scorekeeper can always ask for a repeat call, and
players can make a second call if they find they made a mistake,
4. Stay in the game by being aware of what the score should be,
after all, a scorekeeper is under pressure too, and can make a
mistake, be courteous at all times.
Commentary 20 (Suggested)
(You will have to make
transparencies of some old score sheets to supplement this
1. Put transparency of each score sheet on projector and go
through a couple of innings on each.
Pitching the Shoe
WHAT YOU WANT
Shoe: An open shoe landing
Distance: The same distance constantly
Alignment: Making sure of hitting the stake (the most difficult)
Rhythm: Pitching with ease and comfort
Commentary 21 (Suggested)
1. The first thing of OPENING
the shoe with a beginner is to impress upon them the importance
of controlling the action of the shoe. Once a beginner has
confidence in opening the shoe, they can concentrate on
ALIGNMENT and DISTANCE. The last step, that of developing a
RHYTHM pitch, is a result of the first three put together.
2. Each pitcher will fall into a natural rhythm of their own and
should not try to copy someone else in exact detail.
3. A natural rhythm permits a pitcher to pitch with ease and
comfort. A pitcher who forces their shoe is an erratic pitcher
and can go on only a short period of time. They are streak
pitchers, blowing hot and cold. For the long game fought against
a player or equal caliber, one can not worry about anything
except pitching ringers.
4. Will break this down with the transparencies that follow---
Commentary 22 (Suggested)
1. The grip is a personal
thing as is all the other parts of delivering a shoe to the
2. Whether your turn is as little as 1/4 turn or as much as
2-1/2 turns, it will be regulated by the position of the hand on
the shoe and the angle at which the shoe leaves your hand. For
example, the turn and a quarter can be held fairly flat during
the release and will angle during the swing. Attempting to hold
the shoe flat throughout the swing will destroy the alignment.
3. Use the shoe weight as much as possible in making the shoe
turn. This will make your pitch easier and help in the
development of a natural turn. Success in using the shoe weight
in your turn depends on how much you use the weight in your
swing. Just as in bowling, getting the shoe out away from the
body and letting it drop will cause an increase in momentum,
which in turn develops a natural release and turn.
Commentary 23 (Suggested)
1. Just where you stand at the start of your step will depend on
the length of your stride. Stand so that the step will carry the
front foot almost to the foul line. If you have a short stride
stand even with the stake. If you have a long stride back up as
far as you must to avoid stepping on the foul line.
2. Right handed pitchers should stand on the left side of the
stake. It is permissible to pitch from the other side, but if
you do pitch from the right side be sure to do so at both ends
of the court. The opposite is true for left handed pitchers.
3. World Champion right hander Curt Day pitched a 3/4 reverse
and stood on the "wrong" side of the pit to pitch, he was an
4. It is recommended that you adopt a stance which is
comfortable and stay with it.
ADDRESS the Stake
getting comfortable with good balance, staring at the stake,
taking a deep breath, taking aim, blocking out distractions,
Commentary 24 (Suggested)
1. Whether you call it sighting, addressing the stake, taking a
bead on the target, or some other name, there is a precious
moment just before you start your delivery which is very
important. In that moment you get mentally "ready" to pitch.
2. Some pitchers hold the shoe in front of their faces and look
through it. Some hold it at various angles and look over it.
Some hold it near the chest, over the head, beside the right
ear, or down at the side while staring at the opposite stake.
Some swing their arms and others shuffle their feet.
3. All are trying to get the feel of the shoe and be at ease so
that the delivery is natural and easy. Regardless of the method
you choose it is fundamental to all that you square your
shoulders with the target and avoid dropping the right side too
low. Have both feet facing the target stake.
the back swing of
your arm, starts with pushing the shoe in-line toward the stake,
the height of the back swing is usually when your arm is
parallel to the ground or comfortable behind you
Commentary 25 (Suggested)
1. The backswing is the
beginning of the step, delivery, and follow through. You are
working on a pendulum swing.
2. At the beginning of the step the weight should be distributed
equally between the two feet in such a way that the pitcher
feels perfectly balanced. The weight must shift to the right
foot as the step begins toward the target stake just as though
the pitcher were starting to walk. The knees bend and the
pitcher leans forward as the backswing begins. The arm and the
shoe should fall freely and close to the leg and should define
an arc which is in line with the target stake.
3. If the step is natural, and allows you enough leverage to
lift the shoe to the target, any length of backswing will be
equally between the two feet. Weight shift from right foot to
left foot. Observe foul line.
The placement of the feet
in relation to one another is a thing which varies widely and is
the controller of the step. The most natural seems to be to
stand with the feet even. However, good pitchers will trail with
the right or left foot. Placing the left foot forward tends to
shorten the stride while placing the right foot forward will
lengthen the stride. These different positions of the feet will
change your entire delivery.
Commentary 26 (Suggested)
1. Read the slide and comment
2. The delivery-step governs the swing and follow-through to a
great degree. This step serves a twofold purpose. It makes it
easier for the player to swing the shoe and maintain balance.
Employ a normal step, like that used when walking. A short, easy
stride is sufficient to place ample propelling power behind your
shoe. A too long step will throw you off balance and cause a too
low trajectory. The step is started a split second before the
arm reaches the summit of its back-swing. The step is completed
about the moment the shoe passes the standing leg, during the
front-swing. The step must be perfectly timed with the swing. To
acquire control of your shoe, you must learn to control your
3. Observe the foul line.
Walter Ray Williams, Jr. steps so that he remains 4 inches
behind the foul line. Jim Knisley of Indiana was one foot behind
the foul line after releasing the shoe. Step so that you are
comfortable and the foul line is not of any concern.
4. In Sanctioned
Tournament play stepping on the foul line causes you to have a
"dead" shoe on that pitch.
The front swing
of your arm.
The height of the front swing
is usually shoulder high,
in-line with the stake,
in front of you.
Commentary 27 (Suggested)
1. The swing forward should retrace the path of the backswing
with the release coming at eye level and the arm continuing
upward after the release to the natural completion of the swing.
2. All movement should be in-line with the stake. Distance can
vary up and down on the stake if you are in-line constantly.
RELEASE & LIFT
At the height of
the front swing, shoulder high, letting go of the shoe, elbow
should bend as arm goes up,no stiff arm release.
The shoe will not turn at all if you hold it
level and release it without dragging your fingers and/or
rolling your forearm.
Commentary 28 (Suggested)
1. Generally speaking, the
height of the shoe should vary from seven to ten feet. The shoe
should not be gripped too tightly. The whole routine should be
as simple and natural as possible. The more simple the delivery,
the less chance for error. A higher shoe is better than a low
shoe. You always have a chance of catching the stake with a high
shoe. But as in golf if you putt short you don't have any
chance, same for horseshoe pitching.
The nice easy
motion of allowing your body to stay in place as you watch your
shoe go on for a ringer, the front swing should
continue straight up after releasing the shoe.
Commentary 29 (Suggested)
1. The follow through is important because it is here where the
finishing touch is put on the pitch. Once you have turned the
shoe loose, its fate is decided. Many a pitcher has hurled
epitaphs at shoes after they have been released, but not one
shoe has every changed its course in flight. The shoe goes
exactly where you pitch it. The leveling of the shoe, the turn,
the height, the alignment are all wrapped up in the point of
release and the follow through.
2. The lift of the shoe must
come from the whole body as the knees straighten, rather from
too much arm motion. The height of the shoe should vary from
seven to ten feet. The shoe should not be gripped too tightly.
The whole routine should be as simple and natural as possible.
The more simple the delivery, the less chance for error.
Learn at Home
State and Local Newsletters
Commentary 31 (Suggested)
1. Show examples of videos, where to get them and books: Lucky
Shoe Pro Shoe Shop
2. Newsline magazine
3. State Newsletters
or any variation
Short game Demonstration with Scorekeeper. Pitchers will call
the score as in sanctioned pitching
Commentary 32 (Suggested)
1. Have "demonstrators" demo their grip and toss a few (if they
haven't demonstrated already)
2. Short Singles Game demonstration - keeping score
league/tournament style about 4 innings
3. Make a transparency of a
score sheet and keep score on the overhead so everyone can see
how the sheet is marked
Let's Pitch! Observation,
Tips, and Coaching by the "Experts"
joining a Local Club
COMPETE by pitching in tournaments
Commentary 33 (Suggested)
1. Practice: In the first phase of learning to pitch, practice
is a must. It may be more beneficial to practice alone than
against an opponent. Your attention could be more profitably
directed to the parts of your own game, than to the thought to
trying to win one. Once you learn how to pitch you will develop
confidence to compete against other pitchers. The old adage
"practice makes perfect" is still true, but only perfect
practice. Practice every chance you get until you understand
what makes a ringer go on the stake.
2. Practice by joining a league.
3. Compete by joining the State/NHPA Association.
4. Break up onto courts with beginners/inexperienced pitchers,
"Experts" will coach.
5. Thank everyone for coming.