Seeing and feeling runs in slow motion—where it feels like it’s clear to you—is something we all want. But there are stages to getting there. For someone who’s really green, which is where we all started, runs seem to just buzz by in a crazy manner—so fast that it’s almost a blur. You get to the end of the run in such a hurry that you don’t really know what happened. We all go through that. Rest assured that with time and practice, things become more clear.

When I first started jackpotting, runs would get away from me. But as I kept roping and competing, the nerves and anxiousness started to go away and things came into clearer focus. It’s amazing what happens when you start relaxing and concentrating on what’s going on in a run.

When you start making the short go at the ropings, the nerves and anxiety can flair up and make runs whip by again. But as you start making short rounds, you get more comfortable and better at processing that. Even though your heart’s pumping harder than usual, you start concentrating on what’s going on in the run, so you can see everything as it’s developing.

When I started rodeoing, I had to start at the bottom of the mountain, and work through the process again. Things were happening so fast, and I had to get comfortable competing in a whole new—and tougher—environment. But I stuck with it, and developed a comfort level at higher speed also.

Everyone needs to work through the stages of development, and no one is exempt from this process. At every stage of the game, there’s a fear-factor component that’s caused by nerves. I still deal with it, and sometimes I’m triggered into being nervous and keyed up. So I have to go through the process again. And pretty soon I’m taking deep breaths, and recognizing that it’s not as big a deal as my mind wants to make it.

By putting everything into proper perspective, I can calm down, breathe and start focusing on what I need to do. The process includes evaluating the setup, the cattle and what its going to take to win under the conditions we’re facing.

At a big roping or a rodeo like the National Finals, your mind naturally wants to panic and have thoughts about not wanting to mess up, wanting to do good and thinking this is a big opportunity. What I do to counteract that anxiety at the NFR is remind myself that I’ve been there 29 times. I’ve roped 290 steers in that building already. I think to myself, “I’ve prepared by roping 500 steers to be ready to rope here. This is just another steer. I’m prepared and I’m ready to do this, so just go make my best run.”

You basically bring yourself to the place where now you can concentrate on the things you need to do. Decide how you want to develop your shot and how you want to ride your horse. You’re no longer battling thoughts of fear. Now you’re focused on what it’s going to take to make your best run. And now you’re going to see it in slower motion, which is less stressful.

If you’re a 4 roper and have never been to the World Series of Team Roping Finale in Vegas, you’re greener to the game than a guy at the NFR. But it’s the same process. If you’re at that finals, it means you’ve done well during the year. You’ve put in the time and the effort. Now you’re in a place of opportunity.

Enjoy it. You deserve to be there. That gets you in the mode of taking your mind to a place of reality, so you can relax and focus. If you keep your mind on the fearful thoughts, you put yourself in a whirlwind of emotion that’s headed toward a tornado.

Thought management can take you out of that tornado. Focusing on the task at hand helps you relax, and lets you concentrate on the job itself. It takes you from a place of unproductive thoughts to a place where you’re focused on what you actually need to do.

Going over videos of your runs can really help connect the dots between what you felt just happened and what really happened in real time. The video doesn’t lie. He’s just an honest guy who tells you how it really is. 

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