For those not interested in all of the technical aspects of Stationary Pitching from 27 feet I am providing the technique with the information in pictures.
Standard 1 — A strong balanced stance. Both feet on the foul line will not handle the impetus of the forward and rearward arm swing. Note Line of Flight cord drawn directly from the stake to a location directly below the CofG of the dangling horseshoe. NOTE: Once you have established your stance and upper body alignment, your head, upper body, chest and shoulders MUST NOT CHANGE!
Tip 1: Once you have devised a method to make sure you are square to your Visual Alignment Point, you will need to repeat the process on every swing. I have a vertical line on my pitching shirt that I align with the edge of the inside of my left shoe.
Tip 2: As with any method of pitching, you must control the tendency to rotate the shoulders counter-clockwise. Once I align my shoulders (See Tip 1), I place my middle finger on my left thigh directly on my front seam. I then lock my left elbow into my body. This will control the left/right rotation.
Standard 2 — Visual Alignment Point. This is a point to the right of the stake that you personally use to align the horseshoe at address to keep it over the Line of Flight. A good starting point is the right corner of the backstop (typically 18″ to the right of the stake). My personal VAP is at the right rear corner of the distant right approach placing my horseshoes left shank 33″ to the right of the stake and 33″ above the corner. My left foot, chest and shoulders are square and facing this spot (I have a cord drawn from the front of the approach up to this point). When I swing the shoe up to this visual location I concentrate on not moving my head or shoulders during the entire swing. It is important that your left foot, chest and shoulders square up to this point and not change during the entire swing. The reason I pick a point so far right is to make sure that I get the shoe over the LofF on the backswing when I reach my Backswing Stop Point. It has been my tendency to swing outside the LofF if I try swing up and back along the LofF. So, in truth, even though I try to use the pendulum swing up and back, down the same LofF. I consider the backswing a pendulum swing and the forward a pendulum swing, they are not on the same LofF.
Standard 3 — Backswing Stop Point. The tamper is positioned directly over the LofF cord and is positioned so that it is touched at the Backswing Stop Point. This technique requires a full backswing.
Photo showing the CofG of the horseshoe reaching the tamper at the Backswing Stop Point (where your normal arm swing stops).
From the Backswing Stop Point simply swing the shoe down the Line of Flight. If you don’t reach your Backswing Stop Point your distance control may suffer. It may be necessary to fine tune your stance to accurately position the LofF cord and the Backswing Stop Point.
This part will describe a technique to stand at the foul line and throw ringers. It will also cover the exercises that make it possible to utilize this technique. In a nutshell, this is the method. I swing up to a distant target that I will call the Visual Alignment Point (VAP). I swing back to my Backswing Stop Point (BSP) and swing down the Line of Flight (LOF) and release the horseshoe at the stake. A very simple address, backswing and forward swing with release.
Lets find a Balanced Stance, Visual Alignment Point and Line of Flight. The only thing that moves throughout this process is my arm…up, back, up.
Step 1 — Balanced Stance — Lets take a temporary stance which may change depending on the location of your VAP. This is my chosen setup. My left toe is just slightly short of the foul line and turned clockwise about 10 degrees and pointing at a distant point 33 inches to the right of the stake…my VAP. This places my horseshoes CofG pointing at the right rear corner of the distant approach. My right foot is about 12 inches behind the left and turned 30-35 degrees clockwise. See image below.
Step 2 — The Visual Alignment Point (VAP) — This is a location somewhere to the right of the target stake that would be common with most NHPA sanctioned pits. I have chosen the right rear corner of the distant approach. This is a pretty consistent location when pits are 3′ x 6′ and with 18″ approaches. This point is the most important aspect of this method. When you swing back from this point, it must return the CofG of the horseshoe to your Backswing Stop Point (BSP) as well as a point directly over the Line of Flight location. In the image below, I have placed a tamper behind me on the approach. I swing up to my VAP and swing back to my Backswing Stop Point and move the tamper to the CofG of the horseshoe. See image.
Step 3 — Establish the Line of Flight (LOF) — Now draw a cord/string from the stake to the base of the tamper and if all is aligned properly you simply swing the shoe toward the stake down the line of flight cord. At this point you may need to fine tune the your stance relative so that the CofG of the horseshoe is directly over the LofF cord when the shoe is dangling next to the leg. I wanted this point to be on the right edge of the approach. See image below.
The purpose of this process is to make sure that the horseshoe reaches a point that is on the LofF. It is very difficult to swing the shoe back from the address position and pass it close enough to the leg to remain on the LofF.
The Fine Tuning — After you have established your Visual Alignment Point and your Backswing Stop Point and your Line of Flight cord, you will need to take your stance so that your left foot is pointing directly at the VAP and your upper body is perfectly square to this point.
Over the past 15 years I have included visits to my local World Gym two to three times per week and have incorporated a variety of exercises designed to strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments specific to horseshoe pitching. Thus, I have included exercises that target the shoulders, hands and fingers. The one below is the best I’ve found for strengthening the shoulder area and simulating horseshoe pitching as well. All of the equipment in the right background are designed to work the various muscles of the shoulder. See image below.
The image below is my stance facing the opposite end of the rack. I want to simulate as much as possible my stance and arm swing to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder.
In the image below the rope has rubber stops on both ends. I grab the end of the rope, step to the other end, take my pitching stance and pull the cable forward to the metal bar at the other end. See image below.
Below is an image of the weight stack adjustable in increments from 5 to 95 pounds. If you have access to this equipment, start with 5 pounds and perform as many repetitions as is comfortable. Continue adding weight in 5 pound increments until you cannot do 10 reps. Make sure you allow our arm to reach it’s Backswing Stop Point. Stop if you have any pain during this exercise.
This exercise strengthens the deltoid muscle and connecting tendons and ligaments used to raise and lower the arm. However, don’t ignore the other shoulder muscles. Mix in shoulder presses to strengthen the other muscles of the shoulder. Front and rear flys are also beneficial.
There are a variety of inexpensive products that can be used effectively at home. The photo below shows two different Surgical Tubes (Surgical in the sense they are normally made from surgical hose). This equipment can be purchased at most sporting good stores as well as fishing supply stores. If you opt to purchase raw surgical hose make sure it is the stretchable kind. Further, start with the weakest strength and work up. The best way to use this tubing is to attach it in some way at the height of your individual Backswing Stop Point. You then simply step forward with tube in hand, and pull against the tension of the tubing from the BSP in a straight line to the front.
Below are two of my favorite exercisers for improving hand and finger strength. The two shown in the photo come from a company called IronMind at http://www.ironmind.com. They have a very wide array of equipment and books pertaining to all aspects of improving strength. A catalog is also available. The small gripper below is the Level 1 (IMTUG) and is specifically to improve finger strength (pinch grip). The large gripper is the Trainer (COC) and is specific for improving hand strength. Each would be the starting point to improve your grip and finger strength. There are more levels available. Each one harder to close and chosen, if you desire to continue with improvement.
Either of these grippers can be used at any time. You can also purchase these grippers through Amazon. Give them a try, I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll notice an improvement in your ability to grip your horseshoe and release on time.