Editor's Note: Clay O'Brien Cooper recently finished first and third at the 2005 George Strait Team Roping Classic, and left the San Antonio Rose Palace $52,126 richer and with a new truck and trailer in tow. ProRodeo Hall of Famer Cooper won the roping with eight-time Champ of the World Speed Williams, and placed third with fellow seven-time World Team Roping Titlist Jake Barnes. Way to go, guys!
When it comes to closing the really big deals, it all comes down to being prepared. Your preparation, hard work and the right fundamentals are very important, because those things give you the ability to be able to come through at crunch time. When you know you've worked hard and have practiced well, it gives you the confidence to know you can do it when the pressure's on.
No matter who you are, whenever you're faced with a situation that means a lot-that's prestigious, pays a lot of money or the prizes are huge-it creates a totally different environment, for me as well as anyone else. No one is exempt from being faced with those thoughts and feelings under those situations.
That's probably one of the main questions over the years that people have asked me at roping schools or even just when I run into people who know who I am. They ask about how we handle pressure, and how we're able to deal with the pressure of being able to catch the last steer. The top guys are faced with it more than anybody, because we rope for a living. Day in and day out, we're backing in the box under pressure to win because that's what we do.
It's not about how to make the pressure go away, because it's not going anywhere. It's how you look at it and deal with it that makes the difference.