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Routines and the Reset Button by Dustin Elliott

Sports are about repeating the same successful process to gain better results through practice and repetition. Bull riding is no different.

For a moment let’s look at other sports and some of the routines they have. Baseball is one that jumps at me. Take Nomar Garciaparra, he is retired infielder that had a very unique batter’s box routine. He would step out of the box and re-velcro his gloves the same number of times every time in between pitches. It looked ridiculous but here is why. Your brain gets used to doing something over and over, and when you have good results you need to continue the process. It is like hitting the “reset button” and starting over fresh with a clear mind to go to work and get the job done. By Nomar stepping out and doing that he hit his reset button to forget about the last pitch and focus on the next one with a clear mind. Other great hitters that do this are David Ortiz, Troy Tulowitzki, and Barry Bonds.

Let’s take those examples and turn them to bull riding. When you figure out your routine that works you need to continue to do that same thing to focus on that exact bull at that exact moment. The preparation regimen is important. What time do you show up to the event? When do you rosin your rope? When do you tape your wrist? All these things are time sensitive and need to be considered when finding your routine. I’ve seen so many times guys show up late for the bull riding and their routine is all messed up and generally they are not successful.

But let’s take this to a moment in bull riding where you need to step out of the batter’s box and adjust your batting gloves to focus on the next pitch. Scenario’s like when a bull is acting up in the chute. At what point do you need to take your hand out of the rope, hit your reset button and start the process over, or just be a cowboy and nod? I go off gut feeling, and knowing the way my body feels and how my equipment feels also. If my hand is sweating and rope not feeling right then I step out and hit the reset button. Another scenario is when you are next to go and the bull before you won’t leave the arena. I have seen too many times a guy will sit in the chute on the bull. By doing this your mind will start to race and your body can tighten up. Instead of being clear minded and body relaxed. You need to know how long your chute procedure generally is so you don’t get yelled at or fined at some events for not being ready when called upon. But if the bull before is taking too long to leave the arena, your chute boss will generally be understanding and let you do your job.

Here is my routine that I have found works for me. It stays pretty consistent from the time I show up to the event to the time that I tape. It is the consistency for your mind and body to know it’s time to go to work.

-I show up about an hour to an hour and a half before the scheduled start. If I drive a ways to get there it just feels good to me to walk around, look at the bulls, and visit.

-I like to have my rope rosined and my riding jeans on when the National Anthem is playing for a rodeo, (of course at a bull riding it depends on what section I am in). I like to watch the Bareback Riding and shortly after that I put my spurs on my boots and tie them on before the Saddle Bronc Riding. After the Bronc Riding there is usually Calf Roping, Barrel Racing, and then the Bull Riding so I tape my wrist during the Broncs. When it is over I tape my elbow and have plenty of time to warm up before they load the bulls.

-In the bucking chute is another routine that is important for me. I like to be in the chute warming my rope up at the same time as the guy before me. I like to be ready! At the NFR you can be fined if you aren’t pulling your rope when the bull before you is leaving the arena. This means hand in your handle and tightening down, so I have taken that approach to every event so I know when I get to the finals that my routine isn’t off.

You need to find your routine and figure what works for you. Don’t be afraid that when your routine in the chutes gets thrown off to hit your reset button and start over, but keep in mind you are sitting on a bull with a mind of its own and sometimes you need to just be a cowboy cause you understand the bull isn’t going to get any better.