The Comfort Zone

by C.J. Aragon

There is a transition from high school rodeo to college rodeo and from college rodeo to pro rodeo. For a select few the transition is seamless and hardly noticeable. For the majority there are some growing pains on making the transition.
Most student athletes at the college level were recruited for their talent and their potential to rise to the next level. Every year college coaches from around the country recruit students on their past accomplishments but most importantly on their potential.
CJ-ProfileMost of the highly recruited students were very successful in high school rodeo but that does not translate to success at the college or professional level.
So what is the difference between those who make the transition and those who don’t?
Comfort Zones.
Those who experience success will often fall into a comfort zone. It is easy to be complacent when you dominate at an early level. It is easy to get comfortable winning. What you do in the practice pen works, it is comfortable. What you do in the arena works, you win, and it is comfortable. You fall in to a comfort zone.
Then you have to step up to the next level. There will be a majority students who were successful at the high school level competing at the college level. Those who are willing to step out of their comfort zone will be the ones that progress the quickest.
To step out of your comfort zone you can’t be afraid to fail. Every World Champion has failed, and it was not comfortable for them. They have failed in trying great things, trying to win. They then used the experience to become better and improve themselves.
You have to be focused on a goal to step out of a comfort zone. It is easy to go to the practice pen and stay as good as you were when you showed up. To really improve and grow you need to be focused on improving and getting better every day. Don’t waste your energy and effort to just stay as good as you are, work to improve daily.
Comfort zones can include your practice habits, your practice cattle or those you practice with.
If you have any doubt about your practice habits have someone who competes at a high level in another sport come watch you practice. Let them ask you questions on why you do things, how you do things. Many times they can pick up on small changes you can make to be better. Many times when you get to college your college coach will also pick up on the good and the bad of your practice habits.
Make sure you have a variety of practice cattle. Have some that will challenge you. Don’t always run the pups or get on horses and bulls you know you can cover. Because you can cover the hopper every day in the practice pen, doesn’t mean you are ready for the rank one at the rodeo.
Find people that are better than you to practice with. Many are intimidated to go practice with those who are better than them, don’t be. They were once where you are, and they can help you get where they are. Watch them and learn from them.
Step out of your comfort zone.


C.J. Aragon was named the 2008-2011 Grand Canyon Region Coach-of-the-Year. 2014-2015 WJCAC Coach-of-the-Year, 2016 Southwest Region Coach-of-the-Year, and 2010 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Coach-of-the-Year.

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