By: Justin Felisko
March 24, 2017
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cody Nance’s face was trembling and his arms were shaking in the moments immediately following his 87.25-point ride on Crossfire last weekend at the Ty Murray Invitational.
The 2009 Rookie of the Year was jacked up on adrenaline, excitement and determination as he continued his fight to remain on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Nance said his “hammer was cocked” and he was thinking, ‘Fight, Fight, Fight,” every which way Crossfire tested him during their 8-second battle.
Yet for as much energy and emotion Nance rode with inside WisePies Arena, aka The Pit, it was actually a much calmer mentality that helped Nance pick up 265 world points and move back within the Top 30 (21st) of the world standings.
Nance hasn’t shied away from his slow start to 2017.
“I have been there all year. It sucks,” Nance pointedly admitted.
The Paris, Tennessee, bull rider was well aware that he was ranked 30th in the world standings heading into the Ty Murray Invitational and was getting closer and closer to being cut for the first time in his nine-year career.
Instead of overthinking and worrying about what he had to do to remain a Built Ford Tough Series rider, Nance thought back to some of the best advice he ever received from good friend Jeff Tilley.
“A buddy of mine said he asked Terry Don West for the best advice you can give. He said, ‘Remember your last victory,’” Nance said.
Therefore, Nance, who has worked with a sports psychologist in the past, employed visualization techniques in the days leading up to competition.
Even recounting smaller victories, such as a qualified ride from a week earlier, or a round win can help improve a broken down mentality, Nance added.
Nance even keeps some videos of rides he made from his rookie year on hand to remind him of what he had to do to get to the highest level of professional bull riding.
“I will watch them old videos and study them,” Nance said. “Jeff pretty much raised me when I turned 18. He would send me some messages and encourage me. I lived with him for about two-and-half years. He told me to remember the basics. Enjoy life. Enjoy bull riding.”
It is always much more enjoyable when you are reaching the 8-second mark and not worrying about losing your draw spot on the BFTS.
Nance’s 3-for-4, second-place finish last weekend was his best of the season.
Albuquerque was Nance’s best finish since winning three BFTS events in less than a month in 2014.
Still, Nance – a career 34.38 percent bull rider – has plenty to improve upon to get back to his normal riding levels.
He is 6-for-29 with a career-low 20.69 percent riding average through the first 11 events this season.
Nance had begun his weekend with an 85.75-point ride on Shelley’s Gangster in Round 1, while also earning 86.25 points on Juicy Fruit in Round 2 to head into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round leading the event.
He was bucked off by BC Circular Insanity in 5.86 seconds last weekend in the championship round with the event-win on the line.
Regardless, Nance is comfortably ranked within the Top 30 of the world standings, putting the cutline behind him for good, while turning his focus toward qualifying for the Built Ford Tough World Finals for a ninth consecutive season.
Nance plans on building off his recent stretch of success – he also won Round 2 (87 points on Captain) in Jacksonville, Florida, three weeks ago – when he competes this weekend at the Ak-Chin Invitational in Glendale, Arizona.
The 29-year-old has drawn Jaynettes Pet 2 (1-1, BFTS) for Round 1 before his rematch against Muddy Smile (5-4, BFTS) Sunday in Round 2. Muddy Smile bucked Nance off in 2.93 seconds during the Anaheim, California, event two years ago.
Fans can watch all of Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE Saturday night beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET, while CBS Sports Network will call all the action on Championship Sunday starting at 5 p.m. ET.
The game plan is simple for Nance.
“Don’t think,” he said. “Just ride. This isn’t a thinking game. Just go ride.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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