“Coach Yourself Like a Champion”

Have you ever noticed that as hard as you try to not do something, it is impossible!

Case in point … don’t think of a purple elephant.

What comes to your mind? A purple elephant!

That’s exactly what happens to us all when we hear what we don’t want to happen during our cutting runs.

“Don’t lean!” … “Stop rushing the turn!” … “I told you … NOT the black mott!”

Sometimes we do it to ourselves. Sometimes well meaning trainers and helpers do the same.

When you hear “Don’t lean,” your mind goes straight to hanging out over a side of the saddle during a stop or turn.

But there is an easy solution.

Just immediately translate coaching in the “negative” into a word or phrase about what you want to do.

It’s a simple as this. Notice your own thoughts. Translate them. Or, notice a mentor’s instruction. Translate it.

With practice, your translations will become automatic. And, this is your job. This is not the job of others. You’re the translator in chief.

Here are some power packed tips about how to do the translations.

Tip #1: Be precise. The more clear you are about what action you need to do, the more effective you will be. If you’re not sure, ask your trainer or mentor.

Tip #2: Use feeling words that are meaningful to you, like “Heavy, collapse, soft, etc.” I’m not sure how it works, but if you say words that are meaningful to you, your body will automatically do it!

Tip #3: Talk to yourself like you mean it. For example, I might say to myself, “C’mon, Barb … SIT STILL!” I’m not scolding myself, I just don’t want to feel badly about moving unnecessarily or be tentative about getting deeper in the saddle. I just want to go for it and do it! So I’m going to talk to myself with the energy to get the job done.

The idea is to not only replace the behavior you don’t want with the new correct behavior, but it’s to coach yourself with the energy and style of a champion! Don’t just do the new action … do it like a world class rider. Why not? You absolutely can. Coach yourself to reach for the best!

Here are five common “negative” things we say to ourselves or things people say to us in cutting. Below each one are several replacement phrases. Try them on. Pick the one you like. Enjoy.

Remember, you have to be the one to recognize the original “don’t do” talk whether it’s from yourself or from someone else. And you are the one to replace it. Have fun! Once you get the hang of this, create your own power packed translations.

1. “Don’t lean!!!”

Instead, bring your awareness to a feeling of a heavy, centered, aligned and deep weighted stability in the saddle. Think ….

   Sit square.
   Sit still. SIT STILL!
(Talk to yourself with energy!)

2. “Push on the horn.”

Instead, bring your awareness to a feeling of a heavy, centered, aligned and deep weighted stability in the saddle. Think ….

   Belly button.

By the way, my approach is atypical of many other cutting mentors regarding pushing on the horn. 

I support pushing on the horn during your very beginning learning stages in cutting only. This is because what you really need is to develop a heavy, soft and balanced stability in your core center of balance.

Pushing on the horn is ONLY a temporary fix to keep you from moving around in the saddle but it doesn’t get you where you need to be. No great open rider goes across the arena pushing on the horn.

You decide if you are in that stage of learning to cut when you truly need to push on the horn to find your way back to the middle of the saddle.

No matter if you do or if you don’t, bring your consciousness back down to your core center of balance. Try pushing your belly button down and back towards your spine.

3. “Don’t fall back.”

Instead, bring your awareness back to where you do want to be which is maintaining a parallel line even with the cow and working the cow with a pretty rhythm on this line. Think ….

   Stay even.
   Stop the cow.
   Rhythm. Rhythm. Rhythm.

4. “Don’t be nervous.”

You can never not be nervous … but you can be calm. Bring your awareness back to being grounded and focused on what you do need to do in that moment. Think …

   Stay cool.
   Focus on my job.

5. “Don’t get so tight.”

Bring your awareness back to consciously softening stiff body parts like your neck, shoulders, back, arms, hands or legs.

   Soften up.
   Everything’s cool.
   Loosen up.
   Heavy elbows.

Now that you have the knack of how to do this, find your own translations when you hear other “Don’t do” talk from yourself or others. Then translate and coach yourself about what you want like you’re the champion that you are!

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“Coach Yourself Like A Champion”

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2 Comments on “Coach Yourself Like a Champion”

  1. Susan Morrison on Fri, 2nd Jun 2017 10:29 am
  2. I love this advice! Not only do the “don’ts” create problems in our minds by causing us to picture the very things we shouldn’t be doing, but sometimes in the fast pace of practice or a show run, we miss the “don’t” and hear “cut the black mott!” Pointing out the “do’s” is so much more important, useful and valuable. Thanks!

  3. Bob Lee on Fri, 2nd Jun 2017 10:55 am
  4. Great article, Barb! I’m in my fourth year of showing and still feel like such a rookie! Thankfully I get to work with some amazing trainers and cowboys/cowgirls inside and outside of the shows. It is a great community feel when you know they are all in your corner (pun intended) with each cut.


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