This is a team sport, and the best handle wins because that heeler's going to get the fastest shot. The header sets up the run, and the heeler makes up the time. That's why shortcuts on the header's part don't make sense. If the header cuts a corner, the heeler has to take the long way.
You've got to keep your horse and the steer going in the same direction. When you rope and rate off the steer, you should still be square with the steer. Then you can go ahead and steer your horse out, and the steer will handle better. (Heeling here is the versatile Camish Jennings.)
You've got to keep the rope tight between you (the saddle horn) and the steer, or when you leave there you're more likely to jerk him down or wash him out. Fishtailing a steer is not a good thing. In fact, your heeler will hate you. (Tammy West heeling.)
If you draw a dragger, forget about what I just said and leave there as hard as you can. Keep your hand as far away from the horn as possible, and wear two gloves. (Just kidding about that last part, but you do need to go ahead and move a dragger more.)
You want to move out in front of a dragger a little and not break his stride or he'll want to bury up. Angle slightly down the arena with a dragger, and try to get a hop or two out of him before he starts dragging.
When you draw a steer that wants to run up the rope, about all you can do is stay ahead of him and try to keep the rope tight. Don't just slow down, because it's a lot harder for a heeler to catch one on a loose rope than one that's going fast.(David Key heeling.)
Try to make the steer as ropable as possible on the first hop. Put yourself in your heeler's shoes and set that steer up to be roped fast. Get his head, and make sure the rope's tight before you go left. Make the corner as smooth as it can be, and make it easier for your heeler to close the deal.(David Key hammering one.)