How-To / Rodeo

Roping for Success

Consider these tips for roping success from eight-time world-champion team roper Speed Williams.

1. Invest in your horse. A nice, well-broke horse can have a huge impact on your team roping success. Speed experienced this firsthand when he invested in two national-caliber horses, Bob and Viper, who carried him to his first world-champion win later that same year.

“You’re not going to beat people on an average horse,” says Speed. “I found two guys to back me, $20,000 for Viper, $20,000 for Bob, and the rest is kind of a fairy tale. At that time, $20,000 was like giving $200,000 now. I didn’t know how I was going to pay them off, but I had to give it a try.” After teaming with world-champion roper Clay O’Brien Cooper in 1997, Speed had his horses paid for in the first week.

Be prepared to pay an average of $20,000 to $45,000 for a national-caliber horse, says Speed.

2. Study successful athletes. Every sport has successful athletes. Study what it takes to be successful in any sport, Speed suggests. “You can learn from anybody,” he says. “But, you want to learn from somebody that wins.”

3. Be prepared. Spend the extra time it takes to hone your craft. Get solid on the dummy and the mechanics of catching before you start chasing a world title, suggests Speed. Set yourself up for success, not failure, by breaking things down into achievable steps. A prepared athlete is more successful than an unprepared one. Arrive at your event early, rested and prepared to make your run.

4. Be a good team player. Keep your partner pumped up. “So many people in my profession like to get down on their partner when their partner’s having problems,” says Speed. If your partner’s having problems, it’s your job to pick him up. Instead of looking for your partner’s holes, look at yourself, he suggests. Many team problems can be fixed from within. “That’s why they call it team roping,” says Speed. “It’s a team event.”

5. Keep it safe. Practice with safety in mind. “I was trained that they’ll always be another one,” recalls Speed. “Never stick your hand down in there to save your rope.” It may be a big run, he says, but if you’re out of control, your hands go above your head. Don’t ever try to hold a rope once it gets to running.

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