Roping Mindset

One of the first goals I set when I started really trying to improve my roping was to get to the point where I expected to catch two feet every time I backed into the box. At first, my focus was in the practice pen. I would hope to catch two feet, at best, but I knew that I wasn’t at a place where I could expect to catch two feet every time.

And while I believe in the power of positive thinking, I also know that you can’t fake it until you make it. The question I would always ask myself is, “What do I need to do to get to a point where I know that I am going to catch two feet every time?” Am I going to catch two feet every time? No. Is anyone going to catch two feet every time? No. Can you get to a point where, mentally, you know you’re going to catch two feet every time? Absolutely.

So what gets somebody to the point where they know that they are going to catch two feet every time? It all comes down to the amount of work you were willing to put in. In the beginning, when I asked myself the question, “What would I have to do to get to the point where I know I will catch two feet every time?” it started exposing the areas of my roping where I was the weakest.

The first area of weakness it exposed was my horsemanship. I realized I was never going to be able to get to the point where I knew I would catch two feet every time unless I could ride my horse correctly, every single run. This led me to take horse-riding lessons from a cutting horse trainer, named Larry Lilly. In just a couple of months, I made more progress with my horsemanship than in my whole life prior to that.

The second realization I had was that if I couldn’t figure out how to time cattle, I would never get to the point where I knew I could catch two feet every time. So, I bought a used Hot Heels that ran off of a battery, and I would rope it hundreds of times every single night. And I got to the point where I could see and feel timing. I would work on my timing with the Hot Heels going slow, medium, and fast. I started to learn how to take one swing for every hop, and how to get ahead of the hop, just a little, so that I could take a little off with my delivery.

The third realization I came to, once I had improved my horsemanship and my timing, was that I needed to be able to control the consistency of my swing and to control my bottom strand. I worked on finding a swing that was very comfortable for me and also correct with an angle that would allow me to catch two feet every time.

I could go on and on about all of the different areas that I focused on, but the most profound thing that’s happened in my roping is asking myself this question: What would I need to do right now in my roping so that I know I can catch two feet every time?

It paid off again for me recently. I found myself in a slump and had lost my confidence and was overthinking everything. After a few months of doing that, I started asking myself again the question: What would I need to work on right now in my roping to know that I could catch two feet every time? In asking this question, I realized that I was lacking confidence in my position. I was really inconsistent in the position I was riding, and oftentimes was riding too high and too tight.

I started focusing on riding correct position every time in the practice pen and while roping the machine. Once I knew that I was putting in the work, I started to get my confidence back and recently placed 2nd and 3rd in two of the last #13 World Series ropings that I went to.

So, ask yourself this question: What would I need to do, or what would I need to improve my roping, to get to the point where I knew that I would catch every single time?

By pondering that question, it will expose the areas of your roping that you can make the biggest progress with right now. My only piece of advice would be that no matter how many things you think of, only focus on three at a time, and don’t add another to the list until you feel that you have mastered one.

Chris Smith

Chris is a 5th generation native of Arizona. His family arrived in Arizona in 1877 and has farmed, ranched and rodeoed for each of those 5 generations. He was raised in a rodeo family and still competes in rodeos across the southwest in the team-roping event and is beginning to introduce his children to the cowboy lifestyle. Having been around cowboys and their stories for most of his life, Chris is a storyteller at heart.

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