CRAFTS­MEN

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments - By Clay O’Brien Cooper with Ken­dra San­tos

For the last 35 years, I’ve been help­ing peo­ple with their rop­ing at schools, in mag­a­zines, and on web­sites. I’m sure it seems like such a com­mon cliché to say that ev­ery­body has to learn the proper fun­da­men­tals be­fore they can ad­vance their rop­ing. But it’s true. And my com­ments on ev­ery video that I an­a­lyze for a world-class or hobby roper al­ways come back to core fun­da­men­tals.

At the high­est level, we break down ev­ery de­tail of ev­ery run, be­cause the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and not is so small. Lower-num­bered rop­ers al­ways want to know what they can do to step up their game, and the truth is that the only thing the top rop­ers in the world have over them is they’ve spent the time to re­ally so­lid­ify and mas­ter their fun­da­men­tals. The edge the elite guys have over ev­ery­one else is that their fun­da­men­tals are so strong, and they’ve built on them.

When I’m talk­ing about fun­da­men­tals, I’m talk­ing about po­si­tion, swing, an­gles, tim­ing, and de­liv­ery. The top guys can add com­po­nents to those core ar­eas, and those are the things that make them unique in their styles. Pro­fes­sional rop­ers have worked so hard at mas­ter­ing the ba­sics that they don’t have to think about them much any­more. Do­ing things right is ba­si­cally sec­ond na­ture now. Those guys can add build­ing blocks to those ba­sics and it takes them to a higher level.

Some­times peo­ple who haven’t mas­tered the fun­da­men­tals think that there are se­crets to suc­cess, and that they’re go­ing to find some magic way of do­ing things from some­one like me. There re­ally are no se­crets to rop­ing, and there are no sub­sti­tutes for hard work.

Ev­ery roper needs to learn how to be in the right place at the right time with a proper swing, tim­ing, and de­liv­ery in or­der to win some­thing. With­out the ba­sics, you find your­self with a gap­ing hole. If you can’t get your horse to the right spot, you aren’t go­ing to catch many steers. If you can’t time a steer, your catch­ing per­cent­ages will be cut in half. If you don’t de­velop your swing an­gles and the abil­ity to use the bot­tom of your rope, your per­cent­ages of catch­ing are min­i­mal.

It’s ex­cit­ing for me to work with peo­ple at all lev­els on their rop­ing. The big­gest thrill is when the light bulb goes off when some­one learns some­thing sig­nif­i­cant. It all clicks, and they see that it works bet­ter than the way they’d been do­ing it. When you fi­nally get it, and you’re able to in­cor­po­rate an­other key el­e­ment into your rop­ing, it’s not only ex­cit­ing for the stu­dent, but for the teacher, too.

Al­ways re­mem­ber that your fun­da­men­tals are your foun­da­tion. It’s like build­ing a house. With­out a good foun­da­tion, the rest of what you build isn’t go­ing to hold up. We’re only as good as our fun­da­men­tals. It seems like I’ve learned more in the last seven or eight years since I’ve got­ten back out on the road. I’ve had to up my game, be­cause rop­ing has pro­gressed so much—more the last seven or eight years than in my whole ca­reer be­fore that. The most im­por­tant thing I re­al­ize is that no mat­ter what types of changes I try to make, the ideas I get from watch­ing great rop­ers rope is all built on the fun­da­men­tals of po­si­tion, swing, tim­ing, and de­liv­ery.

We all love to watch Ju­nior Nogueira pull off a crazy shot. But what you might not re­al­ize is how crazy fun­da­men­tally sound he is. You can’t do what Ju­nior does with­out amaz­ing fun­da­men­tals. What he’s re­ally de­vel­oped in re­cent times is his po­si­tion, and you don’t see him in such wild po­si­tion any­more. Ju­nior’s been here long enough to see the rodeo play, he knows how to get in the right spot, and he’s got good horses. It’s pretty sim­ple, re­ally—those are the ba­sic rea­sons he’s so hard to beat.

FLAW­LESS FUN­DA­MEN­TALS ARE THE FOUN­DA­TION FOR EV­ERY WORLD-CLASS TEAM ROPER’S STYLE.

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