In a time when youth sports are demanding more and more time, pushing kids to specialize, and are rife with parental-coach conflict plus increasingly expensive, Horseshoes provides a reprieve with its inexpensive and leisurely nature. Sports scientists and child psychologists have come to recognize that the sport itself is not as important as what the child takes from it mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. Although relatively simple in comparison to some other popular youth sports, horseshoes not only delivers and its ability to provide key components of healthy childhood development, it is the salvation to parents concerned about the potential negative impact of many common youth sports.
Sports researchers have found that the top reason most kids participate in youth sports it to have fun, and likewise the main reason for quitting a sport is not having any fun. Because all other qualities fall behind fun, having fun while learning and participating in horseshoes is a the key component of the Horseshoe America youth program. Fun is why we pitch horseshoes.
Self-esteem & Confidence
Who doesn’t like to score points? In Horseshoes, close counts. Because of this component, horseshoes is better equipped than most sports to provide a nearly immediate positive experience when a beginner is able to score points right away. Kids learn that they can achieve success building their self-esteem and emboldening their confidence that a ringer is not too far off. Ringers build even more confidence and positive self-esteem. Not much compares to the feel of a horseshoe leaving your hand and you know that it is a ringer before it even lands. Youth learn that with focused effort they will see improvement and success, teaching them a solid work ethic.
Most sports are a financial hardship on the family. Some families do not allow their kids to participate in organized sports, or restrict them to only one, because of the high costs of specialized equipment (balls, shoes, uniforms, helmets, rackets, pads, clubs, gloves, etc). Worse still is that as the child ages they outgrow most of their equipment. Then, just when a parent is sure their child is ready to be a professional, the child drops everything and decides they don’t want that sport any more…and the parent is left holding the bag full of equipment and an empty wallet. Not so in Horseshoes! The total equipment needs are easily less than $100 and if cared for, may last a lifetime. Not many sports can boast the equipment cost of under $100 for a potential lifetime of use. Big box stores sell sets of 4 horseshoes and 2 stakes for very cheap. Most people are familiar with these sets, and most people know that they tend to break rather easily. High quality horseshoes are sold from distributors or specialty companies by the pair. These are the Horseshoes that should be purchased as they tend to last much longer and are designed for optimal pitching success.
Horseshoe is very simple because anyone, even small kids, can pick up the basic fundamentals of the game in a single outing. Additionally, scoring points is relatively easy (you only need to get close). Most individuals can even score a few ringers without any training whatsoever! This simplicity makes horseshoes a very popular social game and it is that fast positive-result-for-effort-spent that is very attractive to today’s “gotta have it now” youth.
Although simple in its nature, Horseshoes is more difficult than most other sports to truly master. In order to score a ringer in every pitch, one must develop a perfect coordination of the body’s muscles and the mental faculties of powerful concentration. Then one must have endurance to maintain that high state of physical and mental harmony throughout a tournament of several games. This is so difficult that a perfectly pitched tournament has never been accomplished in recorded history of the sport! There have been a few perfect singles games, an incredibly rare feat in and of itself. A highly skilled horseshoe pitcher will make a ringer only about 50% of the time, and it is the rare few who are so in tune to their body, mind and game, that they can pitch ringers more than 80% of the time. So, if it’s so hard to truly master, why do people play it? That is simple, it is a challenge that is fun and fulfilling! The challenge of beating one’s own best is a strong motivating factor and provides personal satisfaction. Pitching in competition with friends is socially enjoyable. The thrill of a win then proves the hard work to master mind and body has paid off.
The skill required to achieve success at making points and ringers promotes quality hand-eye coordination, a melding of muscle and mind. As that skill is refined so too are the synaptic connections of the central nervous system. Developing hand-eye coordination mastery during youth equips one with this critical skill needed in many components throughout life.
Life is full of learning experiences. What we learn we take with us. No doubt there are many quarterbacks or second basemen who long for the glory days but are physically unable to compete at the level they once did. They know their sports, but they cannot compete. Horseshoes provides opportunities for world-class competition regardless of one’s age. What a child learns in a youth league he will be able to utilize in competition throughout life and even as a 85 yr old.
Horseshoe pitching offers moderate outdoor exercise. Moderate exercise includes walking, bending, lifting, and arm swinging, activities that are non-impact on growing bones and joints. It has been estimated that the average pre-teen will burn over 120 calories per hour pitching a leisure game of horseshoes and the average teenager will burn well over 200 per hour. The faster the pace of playing (kids tend to play fast), the more calories that will be burned. The moderate exercise is perfect to help maintain a fit physique. For youth who may be sedentary or overweight, a growing epidemic among America’s youth, the moderate level of exercise offered by horseshoe pitching is just what the doctor ordered to get them outdoors in fresh air moving and active again.
Wholesome & Safe
Unlike many of today’s hyped up sports that are being accosted with popular culture fads, icons, shock, and scandals, horseshoes hails from a simpler time. It has been a gentlemen’s game that was once played in collared shirts and ties. It’s roots are deep in the farm yards and backyards of America. The lime lights of Vegas passes it by and no bets are taken. The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA) has instituted rules that prohibit alcohol or tobacco on their courts. As a leisurely pastime, friends and neighbors often pitch horseshoes as a means of relaxation and enjoyment. Highly competitive and tense games always end in a handshake, there are no bleacher clearing brawls. Researchers have found the #1 fear of parents with athlete children is seeing their child be injured. Their fear is justified as number and severity of injuries in common youth sports is on the rise. As an even-paced, low-impact sport, injury is extremely rare in horseshoe pitching.
Today’s kids generally spend an overly inordinate amount of time plugged into the marvels of modern electronic devices, from tablets and smart phones to video games and the internet. The nature of horseshoes is perfect to break these electronic vices as it requires hands to be free of anything other than a horseshoe, keen un-distracted mental focus, and outdoors under the sun’s rays surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. Unplugging liberates kids from technological incarceration and invigorates their soul. The challenge of improving with practice can keep a kid plugged into real life.
“Real” Social Interaction
Youth today are facing a myriad of social issues stemming from artificial social interactions facilitated by technology rather than face to face interpersonal interaction. A youth horseshoe league provides opportunity to teach respect for one’s leaders and peers and proper ways to communicate challenges and successes. As a highly social sport, it provides ample opportunity to overcome anxiety associated with face to face communication, meeting new people and developing new friendships.
Because horseshoe can be played as singles, doubles, and teams, horseshoes provides the ultimate platform to teach all the qualities of good sportsmanship. Youth will learn how to be a good sport in both victory and defeat. They experience teamwork and the responsibility and unity it engenders. They learn how to support their friends when they win and how to console them in a loss. The nature of horseshoe pitching is such that competitors commonly offer pointers for greater success to each other, even while competing on the courts. It has been said that horseshoes it the only game that begins and ends with a handshake.
A youth Horseshoe league following this program encourages recognition for all participants. Youth thrive on being acknowledged for their efforts and they will work harder for higher levels of praise. Horseshoe America promotes the idea that all participants should be recognized. Yet, at the same time, the program fully supports the idea that those who excel and win more often should be recognized at a higher level. Parents often want all youth awarded equally regardless of effort, this entitlement notion can be harmful to developing youth, and it is often youth who will accurately identify that higher placements deserve greater recognition.
Flexible to Schedules
Unlike many common youth sports with seasons that can last months and months, creating havoc to family vacation schedules. An Organized youth horseshoe league can run from start to finish in just a few weeks, less than a month. Running a league early in the summer or late spring leaves the rest of summer break open to take your family vacations and other activities that you may have planned. If a horseshoe league is extended longer, typically it is only once weekly and attendance is quite flexible.
Due to the highly social nature of horseshoes, kids can’t help but make friends with those they are pitching with. The high level of inter-personal interaction during the Horseshoe America program can help develop friendships that could last a lifetime. Some horseshoe pitching enthusiasts even consider their horseshoe league friends, or the greater horseshoe pitching community, as their extended family.
Because horseshoes is lifetime sport, coupled with its simplicity and highly social nature, it has become a strong means for family bonding across generations. In not many sports could a grandfather compete against a grandchild…in not many sports could that grandchild beat the grandfather in competition! It is no secret that family togetherness and enjoyment is why an estimated 110 million American’s pitch horseshoes. Read about a horseshoe family.
As you can see, the reasons for “Why Horseshoes?” are many and compelling. Pick your favorite or add your own reason to the list and let’s get started in setting up a Horseshoe America youth league.