Team Play

What’s that you say?  You didn’t know Horseshoes is a team sport!  IT IS, in a couple of ways.  Although perhaps best known for Singles play, horseshoes is also popular as a Doubles game with two-man teams.  But did you know you can also have teams with many more players too!  Team Horseshoes is similar to other individual/team sports such as Track & Field or Wrestling, where each competitor contributes to the team’s standing as a whole.   Playing in teams is an exciting new way to participate in Horseshoes for many kids; it fosters a sense of sportsmanship and teamwork typically associated with other recreational team sports such as soccer or baseball.

Team play is accomplished by dividing the youth participants in to teams of equal sizes.  Four per team works well, but three and five will also work depending on the overall amount of participants you have.  The Horseshoe America Program recommends singles competition for Team play.  It is possible to have teams made up of multiple doubles teams, but this is a little more complicated for beginners and organizers.  To set up the teams it is wise to have a good feel for the skill of those who are participating.  Coaches want to try and balance two often competing needs: One, to keep friends/family on the same team, and two, try to keep the teams balanced as to skill.  It is not a good idea to knowingly go into a team competition with one team stacked with top ringer percentage pitchers or a team with all very low percent pitchers who may rarely score a ringer.  By spreading the most skilled, and those not so skilled, around the teams, competition among the teams is more lively and enjoyable for the youth.

Once set, the team members should come up with a fun name for their team (e.g., Dragons, White Tigers, Red Score, Superstars, etc.).  Teams should be identified in some way by what they are wearing.  Team Jerseys of different colors, or lettering of different coloring on the league jerseys can work, but this requires team setup before picture day, and establishing teams that early may not be advisable for beginners.  A very popular way with the kids for differentiating the teams is by using wrist bands or head bands of differing colors by team.  This also allows for maximum flexibility in how and when teams are established.


When team play beings, you will need to keep track of the scores for each individual game.  The placement ranking of the teams can be determined by a couple simple methods.

  • Total Wins and Losses, each team member’s wins contributing to the team’s total.
  • Total Points where the points scored in each individual game go to the team’s total.

Kids understand both these methods well.  Wins and losses is more popular with kids since they see their wins immediately contributing to the team.  However, a caution with using the Wins/Loss method is deciding what to do if there are kids who miss some of the days of team competition.  One team can quickly fall behind the others due to not playing enough games.  If the kids who miss are high percent players, who score more points, they can make up for missing games in the points method, but not the win/loss method.  Fortunately, in many cases, the team with the most wins, is also the team with the most points!  This teams spreadsheet (Excel) can assist coaches in keeping track of the team members, their individual statistics plus the team standings.  All that is needed are 1) the names of the kids and teams, 2) the kids’ starting ringer percent, and 3) the number of shoes your league plays in each game.  These are the light yellow cells in the spreadsheet and can be edited.  The stats are automatically tallied each time you enter the win(W), loss (L), or tie(T), the ringers, and the points for each person.

Team play can be accomplished by designating one team the “Home team” and another team the “Visitor Team”.  The Home Team members are each assigned a horseshoe court that they will stay on during competition.  The Visitor Team members are also assigned a court to start competition on, however, after each game the visitors will rotate courts.  Following this method one team will play all the members of the opposing team.  Larger leagues may have several teams that are assigned as Home with several that are Visitors who rotate among all the home teams.  The provided spreadsheet is set up for teams of 3, 4, 5 and 6 members, up to 30 league participants and 25 games for each participant, which should be plenty for team competition following the Horseshoe America Program.