Question: My son has gotten into roping with my husband and me as a family. We really want to make the best of it. Do you have any tips for how we should approach working with him in the arena?

— Jackie Hill; Douglas, Wyoming

Answer: First of all, the only kids who are easy to coach are the ones who want it that bad. But that’s few and far between. It almost shocks me when I do come in contact with somebody willing to do whatever it takes—someone who wants it bad enough that they can’t be offended, and they can’t be discouraged.

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If you’re managing discouragement along the way in your coaching, it’s really hard to get enough done to help a kid be great. No matter what the coaching style, there are certain truths that have to be taught and done, and kids have to be able to accept those truths along the way, no matter what.

I’ve never had a parent not come to me and say, “I need you to say something to my son because he won’t listen to me.” I’ve heard that a thousand times. I’m sure I’ll find it to be true with my own kids. But I also think kids have to check their attitudes at the gate of the arena. If you want to be great, you better take instruction from your mom and dad because nobody wants you to be great more than your own parents. If you want greatness, you better overcome that part right from the start. I listened to what my dad said or we went to the house—he made it that simple. But I wanted it so bad I would have listened to a leprechaun if that would have let me stay out there and rope longer.

About 99.9% of the time, I see parents wanting it way more than their kids. But that .01% are the ones who will make a living with a rope. There are so many ups and downs in roping that you need to love it so much, and that’s something a parent can’t force into their kids. I loved it so much that breaking even would have kept me going. Because if the kids aren’t putting in the extra effort on their own now, it’s very seldom that desire takes over later.

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In our arena, we’re constantly working on attitude. No matter what we’re doing, we’re trying to put the focus on our attitudes. Because sometimes the pursuit of perfection is setting yourself up for failure, and it’s that failure we must hustle past. In what we do, there will be mistakes. But the guy or girl who can cover it up with hustle and constant forward motion without letting anything get him or her down mentally is priceless. 

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