Flying Horseshoes Newsletter
Official publication of the Clinton County Horseshoe Club in Frankfort, Indiana
President Sam Payne * Vice
President Frank Adams *
Secretary-Treasurer Kenny Wolf
edited by Kenny Wolf
Return to Flying Horseshoes Newsletter Contents Page
Issue #6, July 2005 Special
How to Know Which Turn is Right For You
Basically, there are six “common” turns used by horseshoe
pitchers. Pictured to the right are the FLIP turn, the 1-3/4
turn, the 1-1/4 turn, the 3/4 turn (2nd, 3rd and 4th turns are all
clockwise turns – or CW), the Reverse 3/4 turn and the Reverse 1-1/4
turn (the last two are both counter-clockwise turns – or CCW).
Lefties have to think backwards while reading all this and looking at
The FLIP turn has a
few variants, namely the “FLOP”, which one way to hold would be like
the 3/4 turn and then the shoe is “flopped” with a quarter clockwise
turn put on the shoe with about a half flip (or FLOP) with the points
heading down and then up onto the stake. Technically the shoe
could be thrown as a REVERSE FLOP when held like the Reverse 3/4 turn
and with a Reverse 1/4 turn put on it and a FLOP.
horseshoe pitching, the rule of thumb is the same as any other
sport. “When the other guy’s shoe is going on, it always looks
like the easiest one to throw.” There is nothing wrong with that
way of thinking if you feel comfortable holding and throwing the shoe
the same as someone else does.
out trying to throw the Reverse 3/4 turn, like Curt Day threw. It
sure looked easy for his shoe to go on when I watched him. But
when the rubber hit the road, I found that I simply could not control
the shoe to only turn 3/4 of a turn and “reverse“ seemed unnatural for
me. My shoe wanted to turn more with my “natural delivery
motion”. Therefore, I saw Mark Seibold throw his 1-1/4 and liked
the way it looked when it went on. I also found it easier for me
to hold my horseshoe with the “hammer grip".
(Mark does not use the hammer grip, with the four fingers wrapping
around the shank. His first three finger joints are on the inside
edge, with his little finger resting against the caulk and his thumb running pretty much vertically up the shank).
So that is what I throw to this day. I throw the
1-1/4 turn with
the hammer grip. Why the hammer grip? Because I have tried
to hold the horseshoe higher up the shanks and find that I can’t keep
it under control when I swing to release the shoe. With the
hammer grip, the horseshoe is in the palm of my hand, not on my finger tips. Each pitcher needs to try different holds to determine the best hold for him.
The illustrations of the
rotating shoe with the six most common turns in this newsletter, show
the position of the horseshoe from an aerial view. Sometimes the
FLIP turn is just referred to as “a Flip”. I call it a turn,
because the shoe is turning, but it is turning vertically; whereas the
other turns in the illustrations are turning horizontally. In
1975, I watched a horseshoe pitcher in the World Tournament hosted in
Lafayette, Indiana, throw a flip turn with a 75% to 80% ringer
percentage. It is not common for pitchers to perfect this turn
with such accuracy, but Jesse Gonzales did.
turn is also the easiest turn for a beginner to visualize, because it
is often open, to some degree in flight and when it hits the stake, but
can easily flip off. But it is a difficult turn for a pitcher to
use if a pitcher wants to improve their ringer percentage over a period
of time. A flip turn shoe rarely uses the hooks of a shoe to
“grab“ the stake as other turns do.
one decide which turn might be best for him. I explained how I
decided. Another way is to simply experiment on the courts (some
prefer to experiment when no one else is around). To start with,
one could begin using the 1 turn throw, which I have also occasionally
seen pitchers throwing. The clockwise one turn is pictured to the
far right of this page. The shoe is pretty easy to
visualize. It is held up in the position that the pitcher wants
the shoe to be when it encounters the stake.
As the shoe
is taken back in the back swing and brought forward in the forward
swing, it needs to be given a turn rotation motion around the center of
the horseshoe (see the first issue of Flying Horseshoes for a
discussion about the delivery of a shoe.) This is a pretty good
shoe for the flip turn thrower to practice with because it is held in
the same position as the flip turn pitcher holds his shoe before
executing the flip turn. Where the difference comes in is during
the back swing, the shoe needs to be turned slightly counter-clockwise
(for a right handed pitcher) to a point where the pitcher begins a
clockwise turn on it when he starts the forward swing. A left
handed pitcher winds up CW and has a CCW delivery unless he is throwing
a left-handed reverse turn!
beginning practice, whatever turn a pitcher is attempting to learn, is
to hold the shoe out in front of him in the exact position he wants it
in when it is released. A good added measure is to hold the shoe
at the level in front of him that he wants to be holding it for the
last split second before it is released. I’m speaking here to the
pitcher who is looking for a turn and wants to go about the easiest way
to find it—in my opinion.
shoe is held in the release position and at the desired release level,
the pitcher can think how he wants the points of the shoe to come into
the stake. If they are both pointed up upon release, or both
pointed down upon release or some combination of up for one and down
for the other, that is likely the way they will come in with the proper
rotation motion put around the center of gravity of the shoe.
pitchers have a delivery “rehearsal” practice swing before they execute
“the real thing”. The practice swing may be slow or close to
actual speed desired on the real swing, but this gives the pitcher a
chance to “wind the shoe up” counter-clockwise in order to be “unwound”
clockwise for the delivery. It is in the practice swing that the
pitcher tries different degrees of wind up rotation—beside the leg or
at the extent of his back swing—to watch what effect it has on the
turning shoe when it is released.
pitcher finds that a certain amount of wind up seems to cause the shoe
to “overturn” when it reaches the stake or a little less wind up seems
to cause the shoe to “under turn”; then the pitcher at this point might
decide to take off 1/4 of the turn of the shoe by holding with the hold
for a 3/4 turn (illustrated on the front page) or hold it with the hold
for a 1-1/4 turn if he tends to always overturn a 1 rotation throw, but
does not want to change the amount of wind up. Although what I
have written here would let an isolated pitcher try out some different
things to learn to throw a horizontal turning shoe, if there is a turn
he likes watching when he watches another pitcher on the courts; the
best thing is to ask them to help you with the turn they throw.
Most pitchers are happy to show everything they’ve learned to someone
interested in listening.
pitcher finds a turn that best suits him and has an understanding of
the delivery motion on the shoe, then he may decide to hold the shoe up
beside or in front of his face and do away with the “rehearsal” swing I
discussed for the learning stage of experimenting with a new
turn. Some of the best pitchers of all time used what is called a
“set” pitching style, rather than the “rhythm” pitching style I wrote
about on this page.
motion put on the shoe to turn it, the length of one’s step (short step
to throw higher, long step to throw lower), the tempo of the
delivery—some control their nerves more and maintain better comfort by
throwing a little faster, while for others it is just the
opposite. Some pitchers say they do not roll their arms at all,
or very much, to put rotation on the shoe; but rather hold the shoe
higher on the shank above the center of gravity of the shoe to speed up
the rotation or lower on the shank nearer the center of the shoe to
slow down the rotation.
“Timing” is the combination of
all these motions working together in the synchronized way that
delivers the nicest looking open shoe for each pitcher.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things. Good pitchers did!