Breaking it Down by Speed Williams – April 2021


    What’s keeping you from winning?

    Recently I was in my home state of Florida for three two-day schools. One of our discussions was “how do you get better.” When I’m teaching I give my students a scenario to complete – whether it’s an 11-second run or 5-second run. Then while watching the video, I break it down and look at every move both their left and right hands make and what their legs are doing during the run. We look at wasted motion during the run. It’s no different than looking at a business and eliminating excess expenses. When roping we need to eliminate excess time it takes to rope the cow. Starting from how you start your rope to how you face your horse.

    Many people struggle to improve because they unnecessary moves made during their run. If you don’t fix the foundation, like your swing and riding across the line, you cannot get faster with your rope. If your hand is making a lot of wasted moves it’s difficult to improve. This is one of the things Hali has been working on lately. In the last 45 days we’ve been working on her swing and getting it faster, smoother, and eliminating wasted moves in order to throw faster. She’s been turning cows for me at my clinics. She gets to rope her way of running close one time. Then she has to do it my way once where she has to throw fast. She is getting much better with handling her rope and eliminating the moves of her hand going too high and too low.

    Most headers want to be able to rope faster. To shave time off your swing and be ready to rope all comes from how you start your rope. Then it comes down to how well you ride your horse across the line. Each person is different in what they need to work on. Is your run too long, or too inconsistent for the number of roping you’re competing in? When you evaluate the last eight to ten ropings you’ve been to, did you or your partner miss? Or were you too long?

    You have to look at what the numbers tell you and figure out your weakness and what is keeping you from winning. If your heeler is catching for other partners but consistently missing for you, it may mean something is going on with the way you’re handling steers or what your horse is doing. The numbers don’t lie. Keep track of who misses, and what happened to find the common denominator to improve your consistency of making the short round and winning something.

    I have a few clients who really struggle in the short round because of nerves. Usually it’s not self-imposed pressure, but pure excitement. When holding your breath your muscles tend not to work correctly. You have to be able to block out where you are and convince yourself it’s just another cow in the practice pen. You need to be able to believe you’ve caught the last few in a row whether you’ve missed or waved it off. Confidence comes from mental preparation and knowing you can be successful in the run you’re going to make. This mental preparation comes from going through your steps in your mind.

    That is one of the reasons I truly enjoy using the Speed Trainer. I can put a student on it and have them hold the green light on like they’re scoring, and when I say “ready, set, go” they drop their left hand, put weight in the stirrups, and get their butt out of the saddle. They have to rope, pull their slack and dally without pulling on the reins for any reason. If the buzzer and lights are going off, that shows them how poorly they are using their left hand.

    I set up scenarios where you have to keep your right leg out of your horse and use your left leg to kick and vice versa. When you’re able to use your legs to help your horse, instead of hanging on with them and using the bridle reins for balance, it’s amazing how much better your horse can work. Trying to address these problems in the arena while roping is almost impossible because there’s too much happening. The Speed Trainer lets us isolate these issues and work on them. It’s incredible how much faster students can improve.

    What’s new with me: We’ve been fortunate to be busy with lessons at my house. I really enjoy teaching other people and seeing their progress in learning to ride their horse better and how much better their horse works once they ride them better. Video can be brutal when you watch frame by frame and see all the things a roper does wrong while roping.

    We’ve had a lot of people come rope, so if you get a chance, go to to watch our latest videos and see if you see anyone you know.


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