Kids can get serious pretty quickly when they get bit by the roping bug, but keeping the sport fun is still crucial. Five pros share some of their favorite ways to make sure roping stayed enjoyable while they developed their skills with a loop.
I played PIG a lot. I learned how to do tricks with my rope. Anything kids are doing with a rope in their hand, and learning how to make their rope do what they want it to do, helps. In the practice pen, we always had matches no matter who was there. We were always competing against each other. That helps, too, because you put pressure on yourself. You’re roping and competing. Looking back, that helped me a lot.
Inside leg, of course. If you’re a right-handed roper, you rope the left leg of a person walking away from you as they’re stepping out of the corner to the left. We would throw variations in there trying to make each other miss, and it makes you pay attention that much closer.
We also roped the Fast Lane a bunch. That was our biggest tool when we were little. We spent hours and hours and hours on that thing. We were more known for that than roping steers. We went through every rodeo that we knew of, and we tried to play out every scenario and every jackpot. Everything we could come up with, we roped.
We had goats. We actually had the Timed Event on goats at Coleman’s mom’s house. Believe it or not, it’s hard to bull dog and trip a goat. Sadly enough, we were in high school when we did that.
Those kids dummies are great. We take the Shorty everywhere. The boys have roped it for six or seven hours a day, no exaggeration. Yesterday, the boys and Brady went through 75 rodeos. They said they barely made the NFR with $80,000 won. Sometimes they’re Jade Corkill, sometimes they’re roping like T-Wade (Tyler Wade). I tell them little things while they’re doing it. My 9-year-old ropes really good for his age, so I don’t have to tell him a whole lot. The 7-year-old is good, too, but I do get after them if they’re missing all the time and screwing off. They’ve got to have a rope in their hand—it’s got to be their friend. Being able to control your rope and having a good swing develops a good habit. They’re always matching, whether it’s points or time. They like to find Cory Kidd, my cousin Chase or my brother Brady, to get a good match going. They get the stopwatch out and they’re always wanting to match.
Dummy tricks are so important to learn to do with your rope—JoJo (Lemond), Jake Barnes, (Kaleb) Driggers, Speedy (Williams)—they always had a rope in their hands and they learned how to do so much with their ropes. I like to stand on one foot and reach a little bit. I like to be able to change feet and reach. It’s really important to rope with your left leg behind you. A lot of times you get off balance with a barrier wrapped around your leg or you get behind your horse, you need to know how to do it. I like to learn to reach with my shoulders facing to the right, with shoulders across the dummy, or turn to the left, like my horse is ducking, and then reach to the dummy. It can really improve your ability level so you’re ready for anything that’s thrown at you.
I like my students to play the quick draw game. I put a calf head on each side of the dummy. I make them walk away at a brisk pace, and when I say go they have to turn around and the first one who gets it roped wins. It teaches them to get their rope up with control. A lot of times on the dummy people stay under control and don’t put themselves under that much pressure.
I do another deal that’s fun. I make three get together, and it’s almost like synchronized roping. They have to start swinging and I tell them which direction they have to ride their horses. They can’t use their feet. It shows if they’re using their left hand or not. It compares them to the other kids, and it ends up being kind of fun.