Do you ever wonder why some people win so much and other people struggle forever? A lot of that’s just because there are different types of people. There are talented, confident ropers, and there are talented, unconfident ropers who don’t seem to win when they compete. They need to overcome the fears of losing or looking bad. Somewhere along the line, they’ve probably had some bad breaks, and they’ve never forgotten about it. They get a phobia, and start believing they’re snakebit or jinxed. I don’t believe in any of that. If you work hard enough, anybody can win.
Other people are cocky. They thrive on people talking about them. It pumps them up and makes them want to win even more. I would never want to be cocky, and there’s no reason you can’t be confident without being cocky. But sometimes cocky people win more than really quiet people, simply because of that extra confidence.
I believe in being confident. I always try to do the best I can and prepare the best I can. From there, I try to be humble and whatever happens, happens. I’m confident in the arena. How I get that is through hard work-a lot of practice, good horses and always trying to be the best I can be. I will never think I know it all or quit striving to learn more and rope better.
There are ropers who have pretty decent skills, but have learned to lean on excuses. That holds them back. The draw is a huge factor in whether you win or lose, but everybody draws bad sometimes and on the average it all evens out. You draw about 30 percent slow steers, 30 percent medium and 30 percent strong steers. All you can do is make the best possible run on whatever you draw.
So much of roping is just a mind game. You need to be able to conquer your mind, because it can either work for you or against you. If you start dwelling on all the bad things that might happen, you’re done. We all have to fight that battle, but the winners find a way to get rid of all the crazy stuff that runs through your head right before you rope a steer for money.
Psychological stuff always runs through your mind before you compete. I’m at Pendleton right now, and every year I say it’s going to be my last year here because it’s so dangerous roping on this grass. But no matter the conditions, if you enter you have to be a competitor, and talk yourself out of those thoughts. You can’t let any of that negativity creep into your mind or you might as well stay home.
Most ropers dream they’re going to win each event they enter. But when they get ready to rope, they start dwelling on the possibility of drawing bad, making a mistake and roping bad, needing to win or whatever. This time of year, even at our level, guys are sweating whether or not they’re going to make the NFR. That can darn sure affect your performance if you let it and don’t stay focused on the job at hand.
I have the same pressures everyone else has. But the top guys have been in every circumstance so many times, and we’ve had the experience of things going our way so we know we can do it when the chips are down. That’s a big advantage.
The power of positive thinking is real. You need to renew your mind. Don’t let the negative stuff in. Think of the positive things that are going to happen. Win, lose or draw, show up prepared and do your best.
Sometimes in our line of work it feels like our whole year rides on every steer. But if you break a barrier or miss one, you can’t let that take you down. You have to pick yourself back up, because your whole year can turn back around on the next steer.
If both members of a team are clicking along, it’s easy. It’s the tough times that test you deep down. If you’re smart and your partner’s having heck, you go to him and let him know you’re going to work through it together. That’ll build the team’s confidence and help get you back on track. Tell your partner it’s OK, and that you’re behind him or her 110 percent.
You have to be pretty thick-skinned and mentally confident to go through a slump and dig yourself out of it. The ability to do that is what separates the winners from the losers. Clay and I had tough times just like every other team. But we always kept our chins up and rallied back. Every long-term team has to learn to do that.
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