Overcoming Weaknesses

by Speed Williams

My daughter does not like to miss. She’s very cautious, will take extra swings to make sure she catches, and follows instructions to a tee. I have to challenge her to rope fast. Since she doesn’t like to miss, she has trouble taking a risky throw. I really have to push to get her out of her comfort zone.
My son, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. When Kaleb and Junior came and roped with us before the NFR, Junior quickly became Gabe’s hero. I decided to practice a little reverse psychology on him. To head for Junior, I put him on one of my horses and told him he could come over the top of the chute and rope as fast as he wanted. I truly thought he wouldn’t want to miss for Junior and it actually had the opposite effect. He probably missed the first 10 or 15 steers and I kept thinking any minute he was going to just go catch one. I bet he ran 100 steers in three days and caught less than 30% because every run was two swing and then fire.
Now in the practice pen he has to catch three “high teamers” and once he does that, he can come over the chute and throw fast. If he doesn’t catch three in a row, he doesn’t get to throw fast. It’s completely different scenario with Hali. If she catches three, then I make her rope fast once. Missing makes her want to catch the next one, where it doesn’t affect Gabriel at all. They are complete opposites with completely different mindsets.
The both have their weaknesses and I’m always encouraging and pushing them to overcome. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t really get onto my kids in the practice pen. I think it’s important to praise them when they do well. Some parents really get mad and onto their kids when they miss in the practice pen. I find it ironic that they then expect so much of them in competition. As someone who has roped their entire life, and for a living, I understand how complicated it is and how many things can go wrong.
However, I’m huge on preparation for competition. I expect my kids to watch the roping and pay attention to the steers to give themselves a chance to win. That comes from how I was raised. The only thing my dad ever got mad at me for was when I floated my heel loop… or when I was playing football during the roping. I got in trouble for that a lot. I loved football and there was always kids playing football at the ropings. Other than those two things, I don’t remember getting in trouble for failing. One the way home, my dad would ask what I learned, and what do we need to do next week to better prepare ourselves. Understanding why you failed at competition, and how to prepare yourself or your kids for it not to happen again is key.
As a young man, in my late teens or early 20’s, I would be gone every weekend and make as many rodeos as possible. One weekend I hauled my back up heel horse and my calf horse, and left my good horse home. When I got back my dad asked me why Medicine Man was standing in the stall. I answered that he was missing the corner and I couldn’t see my shot. My dad’s response was, “Really?” We saddled horses and my dad got on Medicine Man, laid the reins on his neck, and held onto the saddle horn without roping. He did this behind three steers and the horse worked perfectly. He rode up to me and said, “Now do you think it was the horse, or pilot error?” I have never forgotten it and had he not shown me that it was pilot error, I may have quit riding the best horse in the barn.
My point is you need to have access to someone who understands the sport and horsemanship to recognize the weaknesses, and show you how to work on it and progress.
Feel free to visit speedroping.com and browse our video library. There are quite a few videos of my kids practicing and competing.

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