By Speed Williams
The big event people are now preparing for is the World Series of Team Roping Finale in Las Vegas, where life-changing money will be on the table. It’s always been my dream for our sport to offer the chance to win over $500,000 in one weekend and this is it. Let’s talk about preparing for it.
Before leaving home, know that it’s a WSTR start. That means when competing against 300-350 teams you can’t just go catch, without being a little aggressive in your roping and at the barrier, if you are trying to win first. However, they do pay a lot of places and you can win your fees back in many ways.
In the practice pen I highly recommend practicing catching the “high teamer.” Put yourself in a situation where all you have to be is 7, 9, or 11 seconds. Use multiple scenarios and change it up. So many people change their game when it comes down to the short round because they are trying not to miss. You need to be able to block out what you’re roping for, mentally be like you’re in the practice pen and go catch your cow. Try to make high percentage runs.
Another thing that can be helpful in your preparation is to load up and rope somewhere you don’t know the steers. You should be practicing on steers that give you trouble and are hard to catch. If you can master these in the practice pen, it won’t be as difficult when you draw them in the roping. Have someone film your practice then watch and analyze it for mistakes and to know which cows you have trouble with.
If you don’t film and study your practice, you’re missing a big opportunity to improve. All professional sports study the fundamentals. Most of the time it comes down to the little things – not the big things - that determine whether you’re successful or not.
It’s hard for headers to make a lot of full contact runs in the practice pen on their good horse. Too many runs can cause a horse to get strong in the corner or make them a little quick on the step to the left. If possible, make three or four runs on your good horse and have something else to practice on for your roping. It’s important your horse is working correctly when you get to Vegas. If you can keep him working correctly, your odds of making successful runs are much better.
A lot of people have started stopping in Wickenburg, Arizona, on the way to Vegas to run steers in competition. I think it’s a great idea for you and your partner to make some full contact runs in a competition setting. Just don’t run too many on your horse so he’s not short or sore when he gets to Vegas and has to perform for the big money.
Currently I’m staying booked 45 days in advance with private lessons. One of the biggest factors that limit people from improving is their left hand. I’m currently working on a training aid that will help people use their reins and legs correctly. The majority of #4, #5, or #6 headers have a tendency to use their bridle reins too much. Controlling your horse with your legs and reins incorrectly hinder people from improving and being able to rope faster. Your right hand has to be really good to overcome mistakes made with your left hand and legs. I expect to launch this training aid soon and am very excited about how much it will help ropers improve.
What’s new with me: We’re getting ready for the USTRC Finals and are excited at the opportunities my kids will have there. I feel Hali is finally roping like a 5+. It’s taken us a year to get her roping more snappy and controlled. Gabriel has been my right hand man heading and heeling for me at my schools. He’s heeling for Hali at the Junior Rodeos. He helps quite a bit at my schools and it doesn’t matter how many times the header misses, he’s very positive and encouraging to them. He’s funny and enjoys making people laugh. We’re working on getting him a little more serious for the USTRC Finals. One thing the WSTR barrier has changed is the importance of being able to rope when you get across the line. We work on this all the time. Check out our practice and USTRC competition runs on speedroping.com