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Roping Your Way Out Of A Slump

If you’ve ever been around a team roping for at least three minutes, I am sure you have heard someone saying they are in a slump. The slump is when you just can’t seem to get over the hill to the pay window. Either you are roping good but every thing seems to fall apart at the end, or you just can’t seem to catch at all when you get to the roping. If you have ever roped, you have experienced the slump and it is the most frustrating thing to go through and can seem like it drags on forever. I recently experienced about a two-month long slump. I was winning some small checks but nothing big enough to count. I was roping really good and catching 90% or more of my cattle but when it came to the third steer or short round something always happened. I would draw the steer with a head trick or the dragger. I went to one roping and was in the top three call backs in three different short rounds and I did not win a check and I was completely ready to throw in the towel. After throwing myself a pity party, I decided to go home and work harder than I ever have.

On my way home from that particular roping I was reading some articles on my phone and came across a quote from Kaleb Driggers saying that the best we can do is be fully prepared when the opportunity to succeed is presented to us. This was a light bulb for me. I immediately realized the weak points I had when I was presented the opportunity to win three different times. The first thing I was struggling with was my mental game. On all three of those short round steers I had set myself up for failure before I even rode in the box. When I realized what call back I was I immediately began thinking “well if I miss it’ll be okay”, or “can I really even catch four in a row”, or “what if I draw the dragger, my heeler will probably miss.”. As a result of my negative thinking I drew two draggers and instead of trying to set up the best shot possible for my partners my heart just sank and I just turned the steer and hoped for the best and both heelers missed. On the third short round steer I rode in the box thinking what if I rope a front leg in the short round like I did at the USTRC Finals, well what do you know I roped a front leg. I didn’t even realize how wide I was and that I needed move my horse over to try and prevent roping a front leg because I was too focused on failing. I knew I had to improve my mental game. I began reading a book called Mind Gym and in two chapters my focus and visualization drastically improved. The book talks about tons of professional athletes and how your mind can either excel or doom your performance. This was step one to getting out of my slump. (even if you are not currently in a slump I cannot recommend this book enough).

Whenever I go through hard times like this I am the first to lose perspective of my goals and how much I just love to rope. When I returned home I was not motivated to practice at all. I knew I needed to work as hard as I could to get out of this slump but I just didn’t feel like practicing. So I wrote down some big goals. I find it easier to stay motivated when I’m working towards something bigger. The first goal I wrote down was to catch 90% of my cattle. I then formed a plan to reach this goal. I roped the dummy at least fifty times a day, watched thousands of tip videos, worked on my swing, and ran as many practice cattle as I could fit into a day. When I got to the roping I was focused on my goal, not on the slump I was in or winning, or what others were thinking. As a result of working towards this goal my swing was better than ever and I was so confident I was going to catch every steer. Goal setting and writing down a plan to reach them really helped me climb my way out of the slump. I was practicing with a purpose and wasn’t focused on the slump I was in. I have stayed so motivated with these written goals that I can hardly sleep for thinking about working towards my goals. If you need some motivation to work hard at anything in life set a goal and write down a plan with a deadline.

After a week of hard practice and practicing my mental game I was headed to a roping. I called my step dad on the way there and we discussed the slump I was in and if this would be the roping to change it and he just kept saying, “just rope your way out of the slump.” I knew I had put in all of the work, I just needed to go rope. I started visualizing and could clearly see every catch before I made it. I then employed some mindset wisdom I had learned from Fallon Taylor: go make every run like you have already won and just have fun. That is exactly what I did. Every steer I just had fun. I had three clean runs down and was headed to the short round at fifth call back. I called my stepdad and told him what call back I was and he said again, just rope your way out of the slump. The run right before the short round with a different heeler my horse had fallen leaving the box, of course I was really late on a runner, reached and missed. My negative mindset came flooding back and I quickly used what I learned from Mind Gym to get back focused. In the short round I pinged the barrier, roped as quickly as I could and set up a good corner and handle, and we were clean and won the roping from fifth call back. I had finally beat the slump. The next time you get in a slump work on your weaknesses and make sure you are fully prepared for the next time you are presented with an opportunity to win. Go rope your way out of the slump and always remember how much you love to rope.

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