OFFICIAL PLAYING RULES, GUIDELINES, AND SPECIFICATIONS
FOR THE SPORT OF HORSESHOE PITCHING
The RGS Book)
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by The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA)
III. GUIDELINES - The Guidelines section provides suggestions/recommendations for sanctioned league and/or tournament play, including suggested formats for Doubles Play. Also included here are guidelines for calling the score, keeping score, judging, and the use of pacers.
I – DOUBLES PLAY
In doubles play, two contestants are partners against another team of two contestants. One contestant from each team will be at each end of the court and the tournament officials should match the contestants so that the highest rated contestant (by percentage) from each team will be pitching from the same end of the court. The Tournament Committee will determine the length of the game and method of play. When contestants are pitching their shoes, the contestants at the other end should be well behind and to the side of the pitcher's box (for their own safety) and in a stationary position so as not to distract the contestants on their own or adjacent courts. Otherwise, all the Playing Rules for singles play shall apply.
Section A – Regular Doubles
In regular doubles, both team members use the same pair of shoes and all contestants stay at the same end of the court for the entire game. To begin the game, the highest-rated contestants will decide on the first pitch and deliver their shoes, just as in singles competition. Their partners, at the opposite end, will decide on and call the score, retrieve the shoes, and pitch them back following the same procedure. The decision on who pitches first in each inning depends upon the scoring system being used, following the rules of singles play. A single score sheet should be used that clearly shows the ringers and shoes pitched by all contestants.
B – Walking Doubles
In walking doubles, all contestants will pitch their own shoes. A single score sheet should be used that clearly shows the ringers and shoes pitched by all contestants.
GUIDELINE 2 – CALLING THE SCORE
– The lower-rated contestants will decide on the first pitch and pitch their four (4) shoes. The higher-rated pitchers will then pitch their four (4) shoes and all pitchers will then walk to the opposite end, decide on the scoring, and pick up their shoes. The scores of the highest-rated team should be recorded first and they will also pitch first for the remainder of the game. Which one of them (and their opponents) pitches first depends upon the scoring system (cancellation or count-all) being used, following the rules of singles play. This procedure will continue until the game is over.
Games – The higher-rated contestants will decide on the first pitch and pitch their four (4) shoes. The lower-rated contestants will determine the scoring for these shoes. The partner of the pitcher who scores (or the partner of the contestant who pitched last, in case of a no-score situation) will call or record the score and will pitch first in the next inning. All pitchers will now walk to the opposite end. The highest-rated contestants will pick up their shoes (already scored) and step back. The scoring of the last four (4) shoes pitched will be determined and called or recorded. The contestant calling the score always pitches first. This procedure is continued until the game is over. For safety or other reasons, the Tournament/League Officials may select an alternative walking sequence, as long as the scoring sequence remains the same.
calling the score, ringers (if made) shall be reported first, and
then points (see Playing RULE 6, Section B, 1-b).
A – Recommended Calls
are the recommended calls for points allowed, in the following
No points shall be awarded in the following situations.
ringers with the closest shoe in count – call “one
ringers with the two (2) closest shoes in count – call “two
(1) ringer with either no shoe in count or the other contestant
having the closest shoe in count – call “one ringer,
(1) ringer with the closest shoe in count – call “one
ringer, four points”.
(2) cancelled ringers with the closest shoe in count – call
“two dead, one point”.
(2) cancelled ringers with one (1) un-cancelled ringer – call
“two dead, three points”.
(2) un-cancelled ringers – call “two ringers, six
B – Alternative Calls – As different phrases
may be used in different regions of the country, here is a list of
some of the more common alternative calls to become familiar
with. Note: The recommended call (in bold type)
is listed first, followed by most of the alternative calls
that are used.
four (4) shoes out of count – call “no score”.
(2) cancelled ringers with no other shoes in count –
call “two dead, no score”.
- Four (4) cancelled ringers – call “four dead”.
Section C - Recommended Hand Signals
point – (usually the same)
points – (usually the same)
ringer, three points – “one ringer three”,
“ringer three”, “three points”
ringer, four points – “one ringer four”,
“ringer four”, “four points”
dead, one point – “one ringer each, one point”,
“ringer each, one”, “ringers
dead, three points
– “three ringers, three points”, “three
on three”, “three on a double”, “three,
three”, “ringers alike, three”
ringers, six points – “two ringers, six”,
“six points”. “six”
score – (usually the same), “nobody”,
dead, no score – “one ringer each, no score”,
“ringer each, no score”,
“ringer each, nobody”
dead – (usually the same), “ two ringers each, no
score”, “four ringers, no score”
The use of hand signals is optional . but very helpful to scorekeepers who may have difficulty hearing verbal calls, for a wide variety of reasons . Though there may be more than one hand signal for some calls, the following are based on written survey results, and from discussions and the recommendationsof many scorekeepers . Alternate hand signals, for some calls, can be found in Newsline Magazine articles and/or on the NHPA website .
A. Calls/Signals for Cancellation Play: ( Review Rule 6, Section B .1 - Calling the Score )
( After the ’two-dead‘ signal, add either the ’no score‘, ’1 point‘, or ’3 points‘ signal . After the ’four-dead‘ signal . a ’no-score‘ signal can be added )
B. Calls/Signals for Count-All Play: One person calls two scores; his/her score first, and then the opponent’s score . Usre the ’number‘ hand signals from above, but add ’zero points‘, shown here . ( Also review Rule 6, Section B .2 - Calling the Score )
( Four examples of possible scores )
GUIDELINE 3 – KEEPING SCORE
Requirements and Suggestions
Scorekeeping is a very essential part of the sport of horseshoe pitching. To ensure that scoring errors do not occur during the competition, all scorekeepers must be familiar with the type of game being played, the score sheets, the round robin cards, and the scoreboard or electronic score-keeping device being used. It is also most important that scorekeepers: 1) understand how scores are being called, 2) know how many ringers may be associated with the numbers being called (see GUIDELINE 2 above), and 3) know how to credit each contestant accordingly.
Section A – Before the Game
Individuals interested in supporting the game by keeping score should inform the Tournament/League Officials of their intent. Usually, a sign-up sheet for scorekeepers is available, listing the time and date for classes of play. Once signed up, individuals are expected to be available on a timely basis. If for some reason they are unable to keep the scheduled sign-up, the Tournament/League Officials should be notified accordingly.
Section B – During the Game
Dress – Scorekeepers should be comfortably dressed, and
handle personal matters before entering the court area.
Sheets – It is the responsibility of the
Tournament/League Officials to provide the required score sheets at
all designated courts. The score sheets should be examined to
determine that they were properly distributed, and then make sure
(by reviewing the round robin cards) that the correct contestants
are ready to compete. Scorekeepers should sign all score sheets in
case there may be questions later.
All personnel within or near the court complex should be attentive at all times. Scorekeepers
should keep their movement to a minimum, and be especially alert for
contestants who are in the process of practice or competition, so as
not to disturb the contestants and to avoid getting hit by pitched
Recording the Score –
When the score is called, the results should be immediately
posted on the scoreboard, or scoring device. Scorekeepers should
then record the ringers and points scored on the score sheet and
keep the game scores current. The scorekeeper should be prepared to
stop the game when the agreed-to limit on shoes pitched or total
points is reached.
Section C – After the Game
are used on score sheets to indicate ringers. "Live"
ringers are shown with a circle "O" and “canceled”
ringers are shown with an "X". This makes it convenient
to summarize, if necessary, for proofing the score sheet for
is very important that scorekeepers record all ringers to assure
that both pitchers receive credit for ringers they pitched, whether
live or canceled. "POINTS" column entries should show the
number of points called out to the scorekeeper for each inning
while the "SCORE" column entry should show each pitcher's
accumulated score subtotal.
During and at the end of each game, the scorekeeper should make certain the scores are
properly tallied, and then fill in the round robin cards, if used.
When the game has concluded, the contestants should remain at the end
of the courts until the score sheet and round robin cards have been
completed. Properly completed and signed score sheets will be
collected as directed by the Tournament/League Officials. Note:
The score sheet (not the scoreboard) shall be the official record of
the game (See Rule 6,Section C).
D – Scoreboards
For the benefit of
spectators and contestants, scoreboards may be positioned at the
courts. If so, once the score is recorded on the scoreboard, the
correct score should then be marked on the score sheet, being
cautious at all times not to disturb the contestants.
E – Electronic Scoring Devices
Various programs can be
made available for electronic scoring; consequently the scorekeeper
should be familiar with the program being used.
F – Hand Signals
regularly use hand signals to indicate their score. If this creates a
score keeping problem, the contestant(s) should be informed
accordingly and asked to use the common score calls in GUIDELINE #2
GUIDELINE 4 – JUDGING
A – Responsibilities, Expectations and Duties (also see
Judging Guidelines booklet)
Judges are to be appointed by the Tournament/League Officials.
enforce the rules and issue the proper penalties if and when
measure for ringers, the closest shoe to the stake, or for shoes
resolve scoring questions or discrepancies, and to answer or
resolve any rules questions, when called upon by the contestants.
help make the correct decision in situations involving broken
shoes, broken stakes, shoes and/or stakes that may be moved by
contestants during measurements, shoes pitched out of turn, a
contestant's shoes mistakenly pitched by the opponent, and other
questions which may arise.
- To act as a liaison between the contestants and the
Tournament/League Officials for all possible questions or
- Expectations and Duties
GUIDELINE 5 – PACERS (See also Rule 7, Section D)
During competition, judges should always be available and remain visible to
the pitchers. Wearing an orange vest is recommended.
- Judges should be very familiar with the Playing Rules and should have a
copy of the current rules with them for reference, if needed.
- Judges should be reasonably healthy, with good hearing and eyesight.
addition to their duties, judges should also help out on the courts,
where needed. They may be asked to assist with items like keeping
watering containers filled, spray paint available, or with picking
up score sheets.
Section A – Use of Pacers (See also RULE 7, Section D
All contestants, including pacers and/or league substitutes, must be current NHPA members (see page 7 under PLAYING RULES; also see Bylaws for information on membership) . Pacers are commonly used in place of contestants who have entered a tournament but, for various reasons, do not show up . They may also be used when contestants have to drop out of a tournament due to illness.
B – Qualified Pacers
should pitch from the same distance as the other contestants
in the Class, unless the Class is “mixed”. They should
also be close to or within the same percentage “spread”
as the Class and, if possible, wear a shirt with their name and State
on the back.
C – Awards and Statistics
pacers are not “official” contestants in the Class
competition, their games will always appear in the “loss”
column, they are not eligible for prizes or awards, and their
statistics are not to be reported to NatStats. Also, they may or may
not be asked to pay the scorekeeper for the games they pitch.
GUIDELINE 6 - UN-SPORTSMAN-LIKE BEHAVIOR
( also see NHPA website )
NHPA recommendations for the handling of un-sportsman-like behavior at sanctioned events.
The following information is published here to provide guidelines for members, tournament Directors/Committees, Regional Directors, and Charter Officers to consider and use in dealing with undesirable or unacceptable behaviors seen or heard in the area of the courts during NHPA sanctioned events . The possible consequences included here are NHPA recommendations and have been arranged, more or less from the least severe to the most severe .
LEVEL 1 - A verbal reminder by the TD to the offender that the behavior is inappropriate. This reminder could be made by any member to the TD, either during or after the game/event. This verbal reminder could be repeated a second time, before moving to level 2.
LEVEL 2 - A verbal reminder followed by a written notice. A verbal reminder/warning to the offender PLUS a written notice that states the inappropriate behavior and that this behavior will not be tolerated in the future . This written notice or a standard/ completed form ( available upon request ) could be sent by the TD, the RD, or by a designated Chartert Officer . Charter Officers should be notified about and approve this written notice in advance of it’s being sent . This could be repeated a 2nd time, before moving to level 3.
LEVEL 3 - A written notice of suspension from this tournament/ league for a designated period of time. One to twelve months is suggested . A written notice or form descibing the inappropriate behavior and consequence should be sent to the offender by the TD, the RD, or by a designated Officer . Charter Officers should be notified and approve this suspension in advance, and a copy of this suspension notice will be sent to all tournament Directors of other tournaments where this pitchers normally pitches .
LEVEL 4 - Suspension from all Charter Tournaments and/or Leagues for a designated period of time. Not less than 4 months or more than one year is suggested . Under these terms, the offender would be allowed to participate in any other Charters/State events, and could still qualify for entering the WT . The NHPA must be involved in this suspension process, and must approve the suspension in advance . Other States/Charters where this offender may pitch ( see NATSTATS ) should be notified of this suspension and should notify the NHPA of any future misconduct .
LEVEL 5 - Suspension from the NHPA for a designated period of time. Six months or a year is suggested . The NHPA must be involved in this process and must approve this suspension in advance . Written notification should be sent by the Charter President or NHPA President, upon approval of the NHPA Council .
NOTE: Depending on the severity of the offense, the consequence issued could begin at any of the above levels . The first 3 levels should be handled at the charter level, but for levels 4 and 5, the NHPA Vice President in charge of Grievences and Suspensions must become invloved in the process .