Before teaching The Open Shoe, you will need to identify whether the youth in your league naturally pitch a turn shoe or a flip shoe. Experienced youth will already have a preferred style. A Flip is a horseshoe that rotates vertically, end over end once, or in some cases, twice. A Turn is a horseshoe that rotates horizontally like a flying saucer completing a 3/4 up to a 1 3/4 rotation. A simple test is used to determine which style is more natural for the youth. Have the youth hold a horseshoe on the center of the toe and try to pitch a flip (the “toe” is the location where the front of a horse’s hoof would attach to a horseshoe). If the horseshoe flips perfectly, end over end, they should continue with the flip. However, if the horseshoe has any rotation when they try to flip, they will naturally be more successfully pitching a turn shoe style.
The flip shoe, as noted , is held along the toe of the horseshoe. A natural inclination it to hold the horseshoe with the caulks pointed up, this gives a nice thumb hold but when the shoe lands, the caulks pointed upward will be ineffective at doing their job, which is to stop the movement of the horseshoe, ensuring it stays in the place it landed (hopefully the stake). The proper way to hold the horseshoe for flipping is with the caulks down. Caulks down will help the pitcher have more control over pitching a single flip as their release is not affected by the thumb on the toe caulk, which can result in a multi-flip. If the kid has good control over a double flip, with a open landing in the pit most of the time, let them continue with that style. Most kids, however, will lose control of their shoe with more than one flip, resulting in a high amount of horseshoes landing closed to the stake. In comparison to a smooth single flip, multiple flips encourage a forced swing, instead of a natural pendulum, with low flying trajectory and a minimal follow-through.
Most beginners will use the flip as it is all they have ever known for pitching a horseshoe. If they are a natural flip pitcher, it will be a very easy pitching style to use and improve upon. Although there are some very successful flip horseshoe pitchers, typically the most successful horseshoe pitchers use a turn. Over time, youth who initially prefer the simplicity of the flip may naturally start trying a turn style in effort to continue improving upon their game. Do not force a kid into a pitching style they do not like. It is better that they are having fun with a less effective style than what their natural style may be, then it is to drive them away by enforcing upon them a style they are not yet comfortable with, taking the fun out of playing. Remember “Fun” is the main reason why kids are participating in youth sports programs.