Trying NOT to Make Mistakes
Jake Long talks about the mental game he plays in trying to keep up his consistency and speed at the same time.

I’m a naturally aggressive roper, so lately, I’ve been really working on making sure my mental game is in line with what my instincts are.

The biggest thing I have to do is slow the run down in my mind. The best way I’ve put it to myself—I started doing it this winter when we were doing well—is not worrying about winning first place. They’re dang sure paying more than one place at the rodeos and jackpots. The old adage is that we’re trying to make the best run we can on the steer we draw. I’m trying not to run over myself in the run.

Most of the time I make more mistakes trying to be too fast. Being an aggressive guy anyway, most of the time my mistakes come from trying to do even more, and I’m red-lining the other way and forcing the action and heeling the steer before he’s ready to be heeled. That’s where you have to know how you’re wired. Maybe if you’re more naturally relaxed, trying to slow yourself down isn’t the way to go. If you’re somebody who is more timid by nature, then trying to slow it down in your mind isn’t the right approach. Maybe you’ve got to work on amping yourself up, and maybe you’ve got to add some pressure and excitement to your run.

But if you’re like me and you’re trying too hard, you can slow the run down and find that sweet spot of going fast enough and not running over yourself. You could be forcing your entry into the corner, hugging the steer too tight, to where if it isn’t perfect, it won’t work. You’re putting pressure on the header or the steer to run the exact right pattern.

I’ve got more time in the run than my mind tells me I do. I have to stay out of my own way and let the run take care of itself. I don’t have to amp myself up to go faster. If I slow down, I can get in more of a rhythm.

To slow things down, I pay attention to the cow and trust the run. I’m watching the cow and trying to set the run up more than when and where I heel the cow. As far as position, I’m trying to make sure my horse’s head doesn’t go past the steer’s tailhead going down the arena, and that there is enough width so I can see what’s happening during the run. I just try not to get real high on the cow because that forces me to have just one shot. If the cow comes out of the turn not real clean, it forces me to take another swing and if I’m not in good position, I’ll rope a leg or miss. And if I had got one good, fast, power swing in, I might have won something. TRJ

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