The following was written by Cody Custer and posted on his Facebook Page. Cody is the 1992 PRCA World Champion Bull Ride and a PBR Ring of Honor Member. I do not know him personally, but in my opinion he has the best mind in the world for developing young bull riders. Click –>HERE<–for a link to his Facebook Page. Click –>HERE<–for a link to his PBR Ring of Honor Induction article.
A little Bull Riding Strategy
What is the purpose for a practice session?
To fine tune the things needed for success during competition!
How do I choose where to ride ?
Choose practice pens that have bulls that have no chance to ever get you on the ground as well as bulls that will challenge your skill level. Be very picky about where you go to train and what associations you go to early in your riding.
A successful career doesn’t just happen, there must be strategy involved in whatever training and practice routine you choose to follow. You must have a plan that will produce success at every level of your career. I say the best process is dominating at each level so as you continue to climb to the next level you’ll step up and be ready for the challenge.
A)There are hundreds of wanna be bull riders out there that have zero strategy in their approach to a career.
—They continually get on bulls that are way over their heads at the practice pen and they enter randomly without thought or strategy in their choices of where they ride. Most just follow their buddies (who don’t have a strategy) to wherever they practice and enter.
B)Some out there have small picture strategy, that most likely will not to yield the best outcome for their career.
—Because they have some natural talent they jump in over their heads before they have matured mentally, physically and have not gained the experienced to compete at whatever level they are trying to compete at. Some of these guys will make it to the top but because their strategy is not long term and by living in the moment without clear direction they will spend their whole career as a middle of the pack type rider. There is a process to get to the top in anything you desire to do with your life.
C)There are few out there that have a big picture strategy that will afford them the best return on the investment of practice and training for a career.
—Reaching the top of each level of competition is a great strategy. There are levels in the bull riding world and when a guy is real with himself about that and about where he is in his riding he will climb the latter of success through hard work, not skipping rungs on the latter along the way. This also apples too your practice routine. If you chose to get on more bulls that are high level buckers I believe that you let yourself down because you are unable to consistently put into practice the foundations of riding. Every sport has a strategy to perfect each move they will need in order to perform at the highest level.
Major League Baseball players don’t get drafted out of High School and get put into competition with experienced Major Leaguers. They are put in a process in the minor league to gain experience as well as keeping their confidence level high while they are gaining things very beneficial to reach the level needed. They are not put in a position to have to hit 90+ mile an hour fast, curve, sliding pitches every time. They practice in controlled conditions at slower levels so they recognize how and where to place the bat or how and where to swing the bat. The same holds true in our sport, if you want to get to the point that you are riding the highest level of bucking bull and doing it consistently above 70% you must continually break it down on lower level animals. This way when it’s time to make the proper move on the best bulls in the world you don’t have to even think about what to do, your subconscious will know how to react because you’ve made the correct move so many times with ease that you’ll have conviction in what you do and knowledge as to why something works.
—Your strategy must be long term and does not change when you move to another level. The same things that create success at the lower levels are the same things that create success at the highest level. Your practice strategy has got to always include bulls that have zero chance to get you on the ground, this way you’ll ride until you choose to get off. This will help your confidence because you will subconsciously always expect to ride until you hear the whistle.
—Challenge yourself but not every time. Sometimes the challenge is good for you but on the same note you need to make sure that you have the luxury to think about what you’re doing while you are on the bulls in the practice pen. A lot of repetition on lower level bulls is good. Bull riding is not team roping where you can practice on hundreds or thousands of stock. You are limited as to how many head of bull you’ll be able to get on in your life. For this reason you must position yourself to practice as much as possible with the least amount of risk for injury involved. This will allow your mind to process and understand the theory of bull riding and bring it to life as you apply it while staying healthy.
I think when you challenge yourself always finish on making a qualified ride. If you ride the challenge bull that might a good place to finish but if you don’t ride until you choose to get off (8-10 seconds preferably) get on another one so you can walk away from the practice pen with your chin up and shoulders pulled back, confident that you’ve made the best use of the practice session.
Remember this, your strategy will be the reason for your success or your lack of strategy will be the cause for your failure.