Dealing with Winning and Losing
Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
I’ve heard it said, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” I don’t agree with that. I think it all pertains to how you’ve been raised and how you’ve been taught to conduct yourself in the arena. Personally, my father did not allow temper tantrums in life, much less the arena.
When I was 12 or 13, my father and I were sitting at a jackpot when a guy missed his cow, jerked his rope, and then spurred and whipped his horse. My father said, “Son, if I ever see you do that I will be headed to you and you will have a butt-whipping coming.” He taught me I was to conduct myself professionally whether I won or lost.
I’ve heard people say that I never showed much emotion when I roped at the NFR. And as a whole that’s correct. I did get excited a few times, but overall I didn’t get up or down much at all.
What I try to teach my kids, when things go wrong and they don’t do well, remember there are a lot of people watching to see how you handle it. Don’t be mean to your horse or your partner. It’s very important for your horse and your partner to help you do the best you can. If they are worried about how you will react, they won’t be able to do their best work. I’ve also told my kids if their partner misses, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Hey it’s okay, we all have bad days,” or “We’ll get them next time.” When things don’t go well, a positive word can mean a lot.
There are many different ways to handle failure. Things will not always go according to plan. Being emotional, or screaming and throwing a fit, will not help. It’s no different than life, and learning to deal with the ups and downs that come with it.
How and what to teach your kids is a personal choice and everyone is entitled to their opinion. The things I try to instill in my kids and how to handle themselves when things don’t go well, is how I was raised.
I’ve had both kinds of partners. I’ve had extremely supportive partners and I’ve had partners that met you at the back end of the arena and told you how dumb you are. The last thing someone needs, after dropping the ball at a prestigious event, is for your partner to tell you how dumb you are. There are guys I wouldn’t enter jackpots with because I knew if things went wrong they would have a fit.
There’s a difference in being frustrated when you make a mistake versus when your partner makes a mistake. People can handle their frustrations and emotions their own way as long as they’re not abusive to their horse or other people.
As an adult and parent, I appreciate how my father raised me and taught me to behave. This is how would like my kids to conduct themselves, both in life and the arena.