Effective Preparation is More Than Practice
Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
Last weekend I was inducted into During my acceptance speech at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame I told the story of when Rich and I first started roping together. We went on to win eight world titles together but we weren’t exactly on the same page in the beginning.
On my first day in the practice pen with Rich, we roped his 650-700 lb. steers which he had been roping for a couple of years. I told him these steers were no challenge at all and we’re trying to get ready for the NFR. In my mind I’ve always tried to make it harder at home while preparing.
That’s one reason I like the Hot Heels Supreme. It has a “Jen-Stick” and the legs hit the ground, making it almost impossible to catch at the wrong time. A lot of people come to my house and say they can rope their machines fine at home, but can’t rope mine. I think you should make it as difficult as possible at home. A lot of people want to make it easy in the practice pen. You have to realize you’re trying to train your mind and prepare yourself for competition. So the more you fail at home and learn to overcome obstacles, the better chance you have for success when you leave home. That’s the name of the game.
I told Rich I wanted to buy 20 fresh 350 lb. calves and rope them in our arena set up to NFR arena specifications. You have to realize on our first day of practice we ran probably 30 of Rich’s steers and had 30 clean runs. On the first set of our 20 new calves we ran, we had two clean runs. Needless to say, my partner was not very happy. He was not used to missing and didn’t miss many. But he was willing to try something new. In doing so, after about the 3rd or 4th time we ran them through, we started making some pretty nice runs.
In the practice pen, depending your ability level, it does no good to practice all the time when you know what the steer is going to do. Because when you’re away you won’t know what the steer is going to do. Your practice should not become automatic and easy, keep it challenging and make it worth something. Especially for kids, like maybe who is going to saddle or some other chores.
Put something on the line in the practice pen so that it makes you a little nervous to miss. Make it matter. You want to generate nerves in the practice pen so when you leave home, you won’t get as nervous. The more you can generate nerves in the practice pen, the easier it is deal with it when something is actually on the line.
As I’m doing this article we’re actually doing drills right now for the Junior Rodeo next weekend. My daughter is practicing her ribbon roping. We made a deal that if she did her drills correctly ten times in a row, then she would not have to do a chore that she really does not enjoy. Consequently, her loops were outstanding.
Simulating pressure in the practice pen is probably the most important thing you can do to be able to catch. It’s hard to become successful if you fail under pressure. Then you will start fighting your head the next time you’re in that situation.
I’ve been teaching a lot and most of the next couple of months are booked. Gabe has been helping me and making quite a hand, both at home and away. People ask me all the time if I miss rodeo. Sure you miss the NFR and the excitement and opportunity. But being able to teach and help people and have my kids involved is a dream come true for me.
We entered our nephew, Caden, in the chute dogging for next weekend. They didn’t have many entries and he may only have to throw one down to qualify for state. He wasn’t sure what to do and I needed to show him how it was done. After cracking a few ribs a couple of months ago, I was reluctant to try it. My wife and son had never seen me throw on down. Gabe was a little surprised and maybe a little impressed. We post the kids’ rodeo runs and some practice runs on speedroping.com.