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.

How do you get this confidence? To me it’s a simple math equation of executing the necessary steps. Whether you’re a header or heeler, in team roping there are drills for those necessary steps that you can practice. Performing and mastering the steps, fast or slowly, is what will give you confidence and the ability to block out negativity.

A good example is when I was heeling at a World Series roping the other day. I was entered with a student of mine and got caught up in watching him rope and turn the steer and didn’t come close to catching. Riding out of the arena I mentally went through the steps for heeling. Afterwards, I was mentally focused, prepared and roped the rest of my steers very well that day. On that first steer I should have been thinking about my position, swing, delivery, etc. rather than watching my header.

Sometimes you just have to flat out lie to yourself to gain confidence. Before my second trip to NFR, I had spent a lot of money on a new barn. On my first steer at the Finals I lost my rope, then my second steer didn’t go according to plan. I’ll never forget dreaming they were taking my barn and tearing it down. I woke up in a cold sweat. We went on to place in the next five or six rounds. But when I backed in the box, I believed we had done well in the first two rounds. I had sold it to myself in order to gain the confidence needed to throw my rope over the chute. Confidence is a very important part of whether you’ll be successful. Especially when the music starts in the short round and you’re the last team roping for the championship.

There are a number of drills I do to prepare myself. Learning to do things controlled and slowly is crucial to being able to overcome obstacles. Does it shake your confidence if your steer goes left, right, or slows up? You must prepare yourself to overcome these situations, because if you rope enough you will experience them. 


What’s new with me: My daughter, Hali, has been heeling outstanding. A couple of months ago I asked her to start heeling so I could use her runs on some drills for my training videos. It has cost me the best heel horse on our place. I haven’t gotten to ride him since. 

The other day we roped at our home-town rodeo in DeLeon. I headed for both my kids. Hali roped two feet and Gabe roped a leg on his steer. I hauled steers to the rodeo for us to rope. I really wanted to take a different steer for Gabe. The guys at the chute were laughing because this steer’s horns were too big for the chute and he had to tilt his head to leave. It all comes back to confidence and knowing you can catch a big, slow steer that shakes his head. Currently my mom, my wife, and my kids are all in the arena roping and we’ve been busy with schools. now has over 2,200 videos available to watch. 

If you’re going to be in Vegas for the NFR or World Series finals, stop by the booth at the South Point. We will be having a number of drawings. I look forward to seeing you there. 

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