FORT WORTH, Texas ― J.B. Mauney’s style has always been loose and cool.
He was not yet a teenager when he started working with Mike Laws. The lanky North Carolina native taught his young protégé the importance of staying “loose and cool” on the back of a bull.
All these years later, Mauney is still known for being loose and cool.
In fact, when he won his first world title last year, he mostly credited his wife, Lexie, and daughter, Bella, while mentioning “having fun again” in passing. By having fun, the Mooresville, N.C., native was referring to the old loose and cool lessons of yesteryear.
As a matter of fact, while riders like Pistol Robinson wake up in the pre-dawn hours and drive 90 minutes one way to train at Michael Johnson Performance two, three and sometimes four times a week, Mauney would joke of foregoing a trip to the gym and instead sharing Pop-Tarts with his daughter for breakfast.
While many riders go through a pre-event stretching ritual, Mauney and a few others stand out near the loading docks of various arenas on the Built Ford Tough Series for one last cigarette.
However, the 27-year-old has been holding back a few training tricks that he’s kept to himself.
Turns out loose equates to standing for an hour at a time on a 12-pound medicine and cool is not letting anybody know he’s been doing it since he was 14-years-old.
Photo by Lexi Mauney.
“Oh yeah, I kind of keep my mouth shut,” Mauney said. “I don’t lift weights and I don’t go to the gym and do stuff like that, but I used to always stand on a medicine ball and I’d watch “Lane Frost Bull Talk” every day. I’ve never been one to tell people what I do or how I work out.”
He added, “It was one of those little secrets.”
That is, until now.
First he told Stormy Wing and Douglas Duncan.
“I started asking questions about it and that’s what he does,” Wing said, “He watches old bull riding tapes of the guys we idolized – Lane Frost, Tuff Hedeman and (Chris) Shivers back in their younger years – and he stands on that (medicine) ball. It becomes your subconscious mind. He’ll stand on it and not even know that he’s doing it.”
“Douglas and Stormy always talk about the way I move my hips on bulls—how I can be from one side to the other in one jump,” Mauney recalled. “I finally broke down and told them, ‘I think, the reason I am like that is because I stood on that medicine ball.’
“The way your weight shifts it’s kind of like the way a bull drops his shoulder when he’s turning back. The way you correct yourself (on the ball) is the same way as when you’re out of shape on a bull, you have to move your hips around the same way.”
Mauney said it got to a point he could stand on his medicine ball for an hour without it rolling out of place. He could literally roll the ball into the middle of a room, walk over to it, step up and it wouldn’t so much as wobble.
He would actually make it roll himself so he could practice making corrections.
Because it’s only the size of a basketball, Mauney said it initially would “shoot out from underneath” him quick and easy, so he learned how to shift his weight just as fast and gather himself back up as if he were riding a bull.
Photo by Lexi Mauney,
Asked if Wing, who has been living in North Carolina, had ever watched Mauney or tried it himself, he replied, “No. I guess he doesn’t stand on it whenever we’re around.”
In Kansas City, Mo., Mauney and his wife were having dinner with J.W. Hartat a local steakhouse when the conversation of training came up. That’s when Mauney told Hart and, in turn, the former rider-turned-TV commentator told the television viewing audience.
For years, Mauney would stand on it four times a week or more.
Mauney went so far as to say he could stand on his ball while eating lunch and conducting an interview without it rolling out from under him.
Last year, he was still doing it a couple times a week and only packed it up when he and Lexie moved to a new house. During the week they’ve been busy settling into their new home and on the weekends he’s been at a BFTS event since the beginning of the year, so this week was the first time he “cracked it back out.”
Mauney said it’s definitely helped his balance and hips – he learned to shift all his weight from one side to the other – and it’s proven to be a core exercise as well.
So too has walking on his hands.
As young kids growing up, Mauney said his older sister, Jessie, used to laugh when he’d stand on his hands and flip his feet into the air against the living room wall. Eventually he started walking on his hands and got to the point where he could walk across the room and down the hallway.
This is how he learned about awareness and how to control his body.
“I could go about as long as you wanted me to,” said Mauney. “I can still walk on them, but I don’t know if I can go as far as I used to.”
Mauney added, “One time Stormy said, ‘You know a lot more tricks than you let on.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s not my place to tell people how to do their job.’ If you ask me, I’ll tell you what I think, but I’m not just going to walk up and say, ‘Hey, I think you need to do this.’”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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