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Team Wrangler Tips: How to Swing a Rope

AQHA Professional Horseman and Team Wrangler member J.D. Yates runs through the basics of swinging a rope.

In roping events, precision is nonnegotiable, as one slip-up can add seconds to a competitor’s time. With the pressure of a running clock and the variable of live cattle, it’s critical for contestants to have a solid understanding of the basics so they can consistently catch.

It’s never too early or too late to brush up on the basics of roping. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor or just starting to get your hands on a rope, learning (or re-learning) the first steps of building and throwing a loop provides a solid foundation to build on. Here, AQHA Professional Horseman and Team Wrangler member J.D. Yates reviews the fundamentals of good roping.

Learning to rope? Download AQHA's Roping Basics ebook to learn more about the terminology and types of ropes available.

How to Hold a Rope

Before you catch that calf in lightning speed, you have to learn how to correctly hold a rope. If you’re right-handed, you should hold your coils evenly in your left hand. Keeping your right hand free allows you to build a good loop and swing properly.

Where you hold your rope is important, too. The distance from your hand to the bottom of the hondo should be about an arm length.

Keep It Round

In roping, everything’s round, from how you swing to the way you throw. When you first start swinging your rope, take it and swing your arm around, then swing it over your head. As you swing it around your head, continue to keep everything round.

When you swing a rope, you rotate your shoulders and come around your head, then you throw it around your target. You don’t throw it straight like you would with a rock or a baseball; you keep it round.

For example, if you’re roping a bale of hay, you swing around your head, then throw around the end of the bale. You don’t throw around the side of the bale, but instead, around the end of it.

AQHA's Roping Basics ebook has everything you need to be successful in the box.

Basic Roping Demo

Focusing on the basics of swinging a rope, like keeping a round swing, will help you consistently catch as you develop your roping skills. Watch Team Wrangler member J.D. Yates demonstrate these fundamentals in a video.