The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 12

Saturday’s Tournament and the Metronome

I was looking forward to this tournament after my second place finish in the Maryland State Tournament. Boss Hoss Motorocycles sponsored this tournament in Frederick, Maryland. I arrived at the tournament about 8:00 a.m. and noticed the tournament volunteers busy setting up. The pits were a bit wet from previous rains and two volunteers were busy vacuuming out the excess water, while others were readying the bathrooms, bringing out chairs, scoreboards, paint racks, horseshoe table, etc. The local club volunteers do a fantastic job for each tournament. One of the club members was busy cooking sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches free for breakfast, an unexpected bonus. Classes were assigned based on ringer average and scorecards distributed.

The tournament began with a Pledge to the Flag and Tribute to our Troops. I was to pitch in Class B with 5 other pitchers. This was a cancellation tournament with 40 points or 50 shoes. I had warmed up with both Snyder EZ Flips and Six Shooters, both shoes that worked well with my flip. I decided on the EZ Flips for the first match. I was holding my own until my competitor announced I was ahead 35 to 32 with 4 shoes left. I choked, I didn’t score another point and lost 35 to 38 with 14 ringers, 3 doubles for 50 shoes, a 28% ringer average. I decided to switch to my Six Shooters. A good choice. I won the second match 40 to 7 with 15 ringers, 3 doubles for 28 shoes, a 53.6% average. Won the third, 41 to 21 with 18 ringers, 4 doubles for 40 shoes, a 45% average. The fourth match was against the #1 seed. I was winning easily with 8 shoes left, 37 to 27, when my competitor announced the score. Again, I choked and didn’t score another point with my remaining 8 shoes, 37 to 43 for 50 shoes, 20 ringers, 6 doubles and a 40% ringer average. I won my last match 43 to 1, with 14 ringers, 4 doubles in 24 shoes, a 58.3% ringer average. My final average with my Six Shooters was 50.7%, pretty respectable I thought.

I finished third and received my entry money back. I was happy that I had increased my average by 20% for the last 4 matches, but, disappointed that I had allowed myself to lose the two other matches when I tried to win the match instead of continuing with what had been working. A valuable lesson learned.

The season is winding down and my goal of a 50% ringer average is in sight. There are two more sanctioned tournaments remaining.

I have developed a printed form that I’ve begun to use that records the results of every shoe thrown. It keeps track of shoe type, ringers, bouncebacks, bounceoffs, location of misses (left, right, short, long) and whether shoe was flipping properly. This should provide the information needed to work on direction, distance and flip. Unless I loosen the grip on my shoe or try to add a little added flip, my release is working well. I use the form below as follows. First I mark the shoe(s) that I am throwing under “Type.” If the shoe is a ringer, I circle the “O”. If the shoe is a ringer and bounces back, I circle the “BB.” If the shoe is a ringer and bounces off, I circle the “BO.” If the shoe is open when it arrives at the stake, but is not a ringer, I circle the “U” that corresponds to where it lands. If the shoe is not open when it arrives, I circle the “WF,” wrong flight. I keep score and mark anything that is pertinent in the “Comments” column.

At the end of 50 shoes (normal tournament limit), I analyze the results for tendancies. Am I getting too many bouncebacks, or bounceoffs? Perhaps I’m missing left or right, or, perhaps too long or short? I am hoping that charting my practice, I can determine what I might need to change. The results might indicate that I need to change my grip slightly to reduce bouncebacks, or perhaps changing the height of flight, etc. Hopefully, it’s worth the effort.

Click for Horseshoe Flight Evaluation Form

For practice this winter, I have decided to purchase a 2-1/2 pound cannonball sinker mold and cast a number of sinkers for indoor practice purposes. Since I have the plot of the location of my shoe in flight by incremental height and incremental distance, I can set up a target to throw to, at the precise location of some point in flight. For instance, I can select a practical height, say, 4 feet and find where in the climb of the shoe, it reaches 4 feet. I have a couple of ideas of what the target will be to absorb the impact and muffle the sound.

Using a Metronome

I am also creating a table of calculations of the speed of the forward arm swing to go from the start of the forward swing to release point. For example, if I wanted to know the time it would take to reach the initial velocity speed when the shoe was released, I would be be able to calculate the speed of my arm swing from the beginning of my forward swing to release. I would do the following…check the table for 25.5 foot release for 6.8 foot highpoint. The initial velocity is 27.37 feet per second. My forward swing length is 4.5 feet. Using these figures, the formula indicates that you must go from 0 to 27.37 feet per second in .3288 seconds or roughly 1/3rd (.3288) of a second. If I were using a metronome I could set the beats per minute to 180 (i.e., 60 beats per minute is 1 beat per second, 1/3rd is 3 x 60 or 180).

It is unfortunate that metronomes don’t have the ability to set a backswing beat and a forward swing beat. Most horseshoe pitchers, including myself, swing slower in the backswing than the forward swing. However, if you were to start your backswing at the release point, you could easily have a backswing and forward swing happen in two 1/3rd second beats. That is, 1/3rd back and 1/3rd forward. I will be adding the forward swing speed to the form in Part 11. Click for PDF image of plots for 25.5 feet to the stake

If I really find the need to have a backswing beat and a different forward swing beat, I can certainly generate an audio file with the proper two distinct beat times and play them back in my headset. I and other musicians use this technique when practicing the bass guitar or drums.

Continue to Part 13

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