This article on the mental game of team roping
gives you some insights into how you can use your mind for more
success in roping. I have been the mental game coach to numerous
ropers in many events over the years. I love coaching ropers because
they have such a love for horses and the roping world and they are
such down to earth, sincere people. I have coached a number of winners
and even have coached at the World Series of Team Roping in Las
1. Be Solid, Not Perfect: The mental game of team roping
is a complex subject. Many ropers drive themselves crazy by thinking
they need to be perfect in order to score in competition. They put
huge pressure on themselves by getting to their event and thinking,
"Now it counts. I can't afford to make any mistakes. I gotta get
this thing perfect." Of course this line of thinking just adds
to their feelings of pressure and locks the roper up, big time.
Look at this type of thinking like this. If you truly believe this,
doesn't that mean that you have been practicing incorrectly, and
that now, at your event, you suddenly need to do something different?
On the other hand, if you HAVE been practicing the right way, don't
you just need to do what you have trained to do? This is a completely
different mindset. The proper mindset goes like this: "I have
been training very well. I have been training the right ways. I
am well-drilled, with lots of reps. My body knows what to do. I
trust my training. I trust my body. I trust my trained instincts.
So what I'll do now is just get out of my own way, not try extra
hard, not over-think this and instead just flow into this."
Your horse knows what to do also. Your horse doesn't get to
the event and think, "I need to really step it up now. My normal
efforts won't cut it. This is important!" Your horse just
performs according to your training.
Ropers get into trouble mentally when they take an event and blow
it up in their mind. Here's a better way to look at any event. Your
horse doesn't know this is a "special event". Your saddle doesn't
know this is a "special event". Only you believe this is a "special
event". So stop looking at the event as "big", "must win", "do or
die", or "make it or break it". View the event as exciting, yes,
but not as critical. Many ropers even normalize the event in their
mind and choose to view it as "just another day at the office".
They view it as "just like another practice". Why do they do this?
So they don't get overly amped up, pressure themselves, and begin
to think that only perfection will win. Remember the roper a few
moments ago who was convinced that only a perfect performance would
be good enough? That type of thinking only adds to the pressure.
Do you believe that successful ropers play better under pressure?
That's a myth. Top ropers, and other athletes play better under
reduced pressure. How is that so? They change the competitive situation
from one of threat to one of challenge by using their mind. They
appraise the situation as a curiosity, a learning experience, a
fun adventure, a test of their skills, or some other interesting
perspective. Athletes who perform poorly view competitive situations
as threats or problems. This viewpoint leads to stressful, panicky
feelings, feeling insecure, fear of taking risks, playing not to
lose, and a host of other sub-optimal behaviors and outcomes.
So the conclusion is this. Stop thinking you need to be perfect
in competition. Just turn in your usual practice-like performance.
This solid performance will either work or it won't, but no one
can be successful trying to be someone they are not.
2. Know Your Correct Cues Cold: Most ropers practice diligently
and hope that this training will put them in good stead at their
competition. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong at the event
and the pressure makes them feel like something is different or
that "they're off". What often happens is they get lost mentally
in a competition. They THINK they know what mental procedures and
sequences and cues to use, but they don't. They don't identify these
accurately and lock them in during training.
For example, what are the last two things you do before the calf
is released? What do you look at? What do you have in your mind?
What are you doing with your hands? These are critical pieces of
data to know. If you do NOT know these, under pressure, your mind
will tend to wander, jump around, feel lost, get distracted and
make things up. These cues and sequences (also called routines or
rituals) give you a secure, known, peace-of-mind feeling that all
is well, and that you know exactly what you are doing. Think of
this. You are a highly experienced rider. You know all about caring
for your horse, transportation, the saddle and other gear you put
on the horse, etc, etc. etc. This is called technique.
Well, there is also mental technique. When we talk about the cues
and rituals, this is the part of your mental game that is often
missing. And this makes you feel out of sorts and lost. You'll come
back after an event and say, "I really don't know what happened
out there. All I know is I was not myself." Well, this lost
feeling is from not identifying and training your cues and sequences.
THAT is what makes you feel lost. You are focusing on the wrong
cues when you are in the heat of battle.
So my advice is to go back to training and carefully identify these
factors. The moment you do that, the better you will feel. Then
you'll go to a competition and feel the same security and confidence
you have in practice.
Now you have some new insights into the mental game of team roping.
And now you know more about how to manage your mind, and how to
be less perfectionistic. You know how to identify your cues and
rituals to improve your focus. Take these out to your next roping
competition and put them to good use. Good luck!
For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an
assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths
and weaknesses. Here is a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport
psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot.
This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and
weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating
your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program
you undertake with mental coach
Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment
would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture
about your mental game.
Copyright © 2014 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance,
mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William
B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals
achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing
the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching
worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles,
and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time
Free Article Republishing Rights
You have our advance permission to republish this article, as long as you
do not sell it. The author's name, copyright notice (Copyright © Bill Cole,
MS, MA) and web address (SportsPsychologyCoaching.com)
must appear in all reprinted articles. If the article appears on a website or
in an e-zine, the article must include a link to a page in the
Sports Psychology Coaching website. We would also appreciate your including
the author's bio and full contact information in your article, although this
is not a requirement. For additional information, see our full article
republishing permission guidelines.
The mental game of team roping
Bill Cole, MS, MA doing mental game coaching at the World
Team Roping Championships in Las Vegas.