Raising Kids in the Arena
Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
My daughter, Hali, is in her second year of Junior Rodeo and I’ve had some interesting conversations with parents at these events. One question I’m often asked is how to deal with when your child has a bad day, or when things don’t go according to plan. I’ve caught a few people off guard with my response.
When I was competing for a living and going to rodeos every day, one of my most valuable tools was video. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to dissect or pin point mistakes that need to be corrected if you can’t review what happened.
We video every run, win or lose, good or bad, and afterwards we sit down and watch the video. This way Hali can see what I see and we talk about it. I’m not a parent that yells at my kids or talks to them while they’re competing. I’ve never once gotten mad at my child when she didn’t do well. We talk about what happened and why. There’s a bigger picture at play and life is way more important than any run she may make. I don’t want to alienate her or have her dread going to the arena.
I have been teaching for a living for some time now. One thing I know for sure is giving too much advice to your child can limit their learning ability. But making sure they get the right advice is crucial. Often times less is more with the right information.
My goal is to train her to be able to function if I’m not there. That means she needs to be able to see what she’s drawn and make a battle plan. Believe it or not, I don’t tell her what the start is. I have her go look. She used to ask if I agreed with her decision and now she’s pretty confident of her judgment.
I give credit to my father for my philosophy. He did not give me an abundance of advice. He let me make mistakes and we talked about what went wrong afterwards. You learn a lot from failure – far more than from success. None of us want to experience failure again, so it will cause you to put in the effort and do a better job.
Last year, Hali’s first year, I helped her a bit with finding out what she’d drawn and taught her to check with whoever had run the calf, steer, or goat before so she would know what to expect. This year she does it herself.
Here’s the funny part. I will saddle, unsaddle, groom and do all the stuff that I usually hire someone to do for me. But, if she’s taking care of business in all six of her events, and she works at rodeo, she needs some help. I’ve heard many parents say they would not saddle their kids’ horse. My answer to that is, if they are preparing and trying to do a good job, I have no problem helping. The important things to me are: knowing the start, what cow they’ve drawn and then making a battle plan.
Hali is now 13 and played softball until she was 12. Last year when we went to the USTRC Finals she was a #3. This week they just moved her to a #5E. She did a great job this year and won $44,000, but ultimately it comes down to the fundamentals of knowing how to score, riding your horse, and being ready to rope when you get there. Hali has always been my helper when I teach private lessons. Now, she can spin steers or heel for my clients.
When things don’t go well she knows when she sees me she won’t be in trouble. I will joke with her to pick her spirits up. There are much more important things in life than one run. When it doesn’t go well, that’s when your kid needs you to encourage them, more than any other time. I don’t understand parents who yell, scream, and threaten to whip their kids when they don’t do well. My goal in life is for my kids to stay close to me as adults, when they have the choice to be around me or not. That, to me, is far more important than any single victory.
There are many beneficial videos on speedroping.com for kids and adults. If you want to watch some of Hali’s runs with my tips, visit the site and do a search with her name. Most are free to watch. Next month I’ll talk about fundamentals and how crucial they are in competition.