As I look back on the regular ProRodeo season—with 165 new rodeos adding breakaway—I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to be honest with myself about the mental struggles I faced this year, and how I’m going to address them going forward.
I’ve always gained confidence from my work ethic in the practice pen. But you can’t fake your way through confidence on the road. I’ve always been able to come home, bust my butt, and feel like I left for the weekend outworking everyone.
It’s such a different ballgame when you can’t go regroup. You’ve got to draw confidence from somewhere else and work on the mental game. I’m going to have to figure that out and come out with a different approach when I leave home next year.
I know I need to dive into the mental game more. It’s never been something I’ve had to work on before. I totally thought the harder you worked at it, that equaled more confidence. I completely thought nobody could beat me if I outworked them. But out on the road, it’s an equal playing field. There’s only so much practice you can do—you can rope the dummy, watch runs, but you’ve still got to drive and rope and sleep and drive and rope and sleep.
It’s hard. It’s hard because I’ve never been in the situation to where I didn’t go home and regroup. Even though you’ll find people who will let you practice and stay, if you don’t hit for three or four rodeos, you’ll look up and you haven’t won a dollar. At the amateur rodeos you get home and regroup. My confidence is that I always go home and regroup and outwork everyone. I can’t do that now. I go from one rodeo and it’s bad, then the next rodeo and I draw bad, and the next rodeo I do bad… I can tell where people have to really work on their mental game because I can really start to panic.
This year I’ve literally had to tell myself that ‘You know how to rope. You know how to do these things—you’ll just have to wait it out and let it turn over.’
That’s stuff I’ve told Charly a million times, but I was never in the middle of it myself. But if you’ve never been there, it can creep up on you and it’s hard to fight it back. I’m very fortunate to have had people who let me come and regroup this year. People deserve so much credit for letting us come stay and use their stuff.
You start to think, “Am I lacking something? Am I missing something?” You see these girls blowing by you in the standings, and you start panicking. I had to adjust and get my mind and realize this is a long season and there are a lot of rodeos. Shoot even the Fourth isn’t our biggest week of rodeos. This is a marathon. Everyone will have their sprint having a dominating week. I noticed when I got to panicking, I was trying to overdo everything. I was trying to swing too fast, throw too fast. I watched JJ Hampton at Mobridge, South Dakota, and she didn’t swing faster than she does for years—nothing different than her style that she’s done for years. I realized I have to rope my game, and I’d win just like I’d done for years. I need to slow down, know my timing, and reel it in and do it. And I’ve got to spend this winter getting that figured out.