Breaking It Down


Speed Williams

I feel sure there are plenty of folks who, while sitting on the couch at home, were very critical of the team roping at the NFR this year. This is the first time in many years the steers were big – big horns, big frames – and they were fresh. It’s very hard to execute 4-second runs when steers are fresh and don’t have a pattern. What I mean by no pattern is when the gate bangs the steer doesn’t start, hesitates, and then starts off slow. This causes the header to have to pull. Then, when the steer leaves, he’s not running to the back end. He’s moving left or right and not going steady in any one direction. The steers were fresh enough that when the headers hit them hard in the corner, in that little arena, they came out of the corner with their legs spread. That makes it very difficult to throw fast or catch two feet.

This month I’m going to talk about mental preparation. Some call it confidence and some call it being prepared. Truthfully many times it comes down to how well you can lie to yourself. If you have missed three steers in a row and you have just one more run, you need to be able to back in the box with the confidence that you can catch the steer. Once you lose that mental confidence and start worrying about what can go wrong, your odds of catching go way down.

When you miss a steer do you know why you missed or does it leave you wondering what happened? Understanding how to fix roping problems is a big struggle for most team ropers. In order to understand what went wrong you need to break it down and do things slowly and in control. All professional sports have drills that prepare athletes for competition.

When you practice do you have specific goals in mind with a clear-cut game plan, or do you and your partner go make some nice runs? Making nice runs in the practice pen may be fun, but it really doesn’t do much to help your roping.