Scorekeeping is vital to any sport.  Without keeping score, a game couldn’t really be called a game!

Teaching Scorekeeping is one of the greatest helps for kids new to organized horseshoes.  Once they learn and understand how the score is kept, the flow and scoring of the game is much simpler when they are out competing on the courts.

To teach scorekeeping, it is best to have a score sheet and pencil for each kid.  Have two volunteers come and play a mock game of horseshoes.  Have them toss their shoes a few feet in front of them at an imaginary stake.  Then have them call out whatever score they want (usually “double ringers six”).  Now demonstrate to the youth how to record those scores on the score sheet.   Live Ringers are identified on a score sheet with the “O” symbol.  In Count-All play, both players can score at the same time and there are no dead ringers.  When playing Cancellation, ringers can be dead and although they do not score, they need to be recorded; the symbol for a dead ringer is “X.”  Now, have the youth volunteers again toss their shoes and call out another different score than they called the first time, and again show the youth how to record the scores.  The following 2 score sheets show both Count-All and Cancellation games.countallscoresheet

Count-All Score Sheet


Cancellation Score Sheet

At the bottom of each score sheet, the statistics for the game are tabulated.  This is an opportunity to reinforce the value of the math skills the kids are learning at school.  Blank 20-shoe Count-All and Cancellation Score Sheets are available.

The first time the youth try keeping score it will be hard for some of them to understand how it all works, especially the youngest kids.  A mock game should be set up to help them better understand scorekeeping.  The next component of the clinic on this day is teaching Singles Play.  Once Singles has been explained, there is an opportunity for two volunteers to pitch a 20 shoe game to demonstrate singles play.  The rest of the kids should each keep the score of the game.  They can help each other and coaches should verify each score is correct before the kids on the court continue pitching.  This hands-on learning is the best way for kids to understand how and why the score should be kept.  They will also better appreciate those who keep score for their games.  For Doubles Play scoring see “Doubles Play.”

Scorekeepers:  You will need a scorekeeper scorekeeperfor every two horseshoe courts.  Parents who are wiling to volunteer make great scorekeepers, as do assistant coaches.  When the youth begin their league play, there should always be at least one coach free to roam the courts offering tips and support to the kids (not keeping score).

An additional perk of scorekeeping is that during most NHPA tournaments, scorekeepers are paid a nominal fee for each game they score.  As youth classes tend to end before adult classes, youth may be able to keep score for the adults during their last couple games and earn a little spending money.