Pitching an open shoe is one of the most critical components of the game. A kid may have perfect alignment and correct distance to consistently hit the stake, but if the shoe is not open to the stake, all they will score is a single point, not a ringer. Ringers require an open shoe.In most cases, starting a kid out at their full pitching distance and then expecting them to have the control necessary over their turn or flip, to pitch an open shoe is unreasonable. It can be frustrating to a kid who can make the distance, but can’t seem to get their shoe to open to the stake.
A good drill to develop and keep an open shoe is to place the youth only a few feet in front of the stake. They will then pitch their horseshoes at the stake trying to get their shoes to turn or flip so that the shoe is open and rings the stake. Once they have mastered making ringers with an open shoe at such a close distance, move them back a few feet and have them do it again. They will have to adjust their turn or flip slightly to slow it down to keep the shoe open. Once they are consistently making ringers at that distance, move them back a few more feet and the process repeats itself until they arrive at their regulation pitching distance incorporating all the other proper pitching fundamentals. Not only is this drill effective at teaching the open shoe, it also self-teaches the youth how to control the speed of their turn or flip. Anytime during this drill that a kid has difficulty making ringers at the new further distance, they should step closer until their shoe is again consistently open to the stake and then return to working back to longer distances.
During week-1 of the Horseshoe America clinic, you will only want to introduce this drill in concept and provide an example. Remember, that during the first week, we are not pitching horseshoes at stakes. However, it is important to introduce this concept in order to practice The Dead Landing. Week-2 will provide opportunity for the youth to practice with this drill.