The Search For My Perfect Swing — Part 30

Drop Angle

This is a continuation of the discussion of the “High Point” and the “Release Point”. Originally, I wanted Part 30 to be a description of my personal technique for flipping a horseshoe from 30 feet. However, I felt I needed to describe the importance of the “Drop Angle”, whether pitching in sand or clay.

Pitching in a tournament will quickly point out the disadvantage a flipper has against a turner. It is therefore important to describe how to minimize this difference, as well as improving my ringer average. I cannot stress to strongly the importance of salvaging a point or points when I miss a ringer. Last year, I lost a match when I threw 36 ringers and my opponent threw 34. He was a turner and beat me with single points. Why did this happen? At the time, I was throwing my shoes fairly low. If I missed a ringer I was usually out of point range. The problem is much worse in sand. The information below is how I approached the problem with better results when I corrected my “Drop Angle.”

13 Inch Scoring Area

13 Inch Scoring Circle

The image above represents the scoring area around the stake. Any part of a horseshoe inside of the scoring area is a potential point in a cancellation match. In a count all points match, any part of a horseshoe inside of the scoring circle “is” a point.

The Minimum Drop Angle

30 Degree Drop Angle

The image above represents the minimum drop angle of 30 degrees. The shoe bottom right shows a ringer that is 6-1/2″ short of the ringer break. The middle shoe arrives 6″ above the ground, a potential ringer. The shoe on the left is a potential point when the shoe is not a ringer, but, passes the stake no higher than 6″ above the ground. This drop angle gives me a 12-1/2″ ringer length.

The Maximum Drop Angle


45 Degree Drop Angle

Here is the representation of a 45 degree drop angle. Notice that a non-ringer passing the stake at 6″ results in a shoe that is more likely to salvage a point over a 30 degree drop angle.

Your own personal drop angle is more than likely dictated by the rotation of your flipped shoe. The greater the drop angle the slower the shoe needs to rotate, the higher the launch angle and the later the release. In Part 31 I will discuss a simple way that I use to alter my drop angle during practice. It is important that I keep my drop angle somewhere between 30 and 45 degrees. When I pitch in my sand league, I concentrate on launching the shoe higher with slower flip rotation to pick up those all important points if I miss a ringer. I have found that surrounding the stake with a 15″ tire helps me get the feel for point control. Using the tire is in addition to the simple method of controlling my drop angle during practice.

Continue to Part 31 for a description of my current pitching method.

E-mail me if you have questions.

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