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No Wave… No More!

by Ryan Davis on 08/31/15

September 2015

No Wave… No More!

An often missed head shot is not one that sails past the horns, a loop that falls short of its intended target or one that misses to the left or right. Often for most headers who have been roping for a while the most common form of a missed head loop is one that sails well, seems like it will settle nicely around the base of the horns, but does not stay there and instead fails to stay secure. Known as the “wave-off,” it is dreaded among headers. The wave-off is very common among amateur ropers. Many fear it and search for ways to cure its diseased effect.

This month we went to Bret Beach at to see what he had to say about head loops that sail off their intended targets. He had plenty to state on the subject and admitted that he probably could not fit all of the reasons in a single article. With that in mind, he headed straight to the top of the list and gave us some insight as to why ropers wave it off and what to do to avoid this problem.

“One of the problems is that steers don’t usually have a good set of horns like they used to,” said Bret. “These shorter horned cattle make the problem worse. To fix not waving it off though a header needs to begin by throwing a better loop. If you throw a good loop you decrease your chances of waving it off.”

Bret said he watched ropers who often wave it off and they do different things to try to compensate for it.

“To begin, it is a misconception that the way a header pulls his slack causes the loop to wave off. Many believe that by pulling their slack out to the side (to the right) causes a wave-off. It is not created by the way you pull your slack, but most of the time caused by a poor loop to begin with,” Bret said. “If they fix their swing and delivery to have a better loop, they could pull their slack straight back, to the side or even straight up like a heeler and the loop will stay secure.”

Bret had a little more to say on what headers try to do in order to avoid waving it off the horns and why in many cases their attempt to rope better does more harm then good.

“I also see headers try to use a smaller loop in order to avoid waving it off,” he added. “These guys still wave it off and a smaller loop causes more problems, such as, one they lose their range. Also, a smaller loop stiffens the rope up. The affect of a smaller loop is that it hits the left shoulder of the steer and opens up and pops off even quicker. I suggest using a regular sized loop and work on the mechanics of roping the horns correctly.”

In order to avoid a wave-off Bret explained a few things to try.

“To begin, like I said before, work on a better loop,” Bret said. “You must also pull your slack at the right time. The timing of pulling your slack is critical. I see a lot of headers who are too slow on pulling their slack and it causes a wave-off. As soon as the curl hits the shoulder slam it shut. You can’t be late.”

Like every header, Bret works on his loop and delivery in order to not wave it off.

“When I back in the box, especially when there is money on the line and I see a smaller-horned steer I know I need to lower my chances of waving it off,” he said. “I raise my hand a little, get my tip down and really try to rope the horns deep, get more skull in the loop and rope them around the eyes. This will eliminate the wave-off most of the time. In some instances I will even go with a neck shot in order to make sure I make a solid catch.”

Like Bret said, there are many different factors that go into a header to trying to avoid a wave-off and you can find them all at There are hundreds of videos to watch from the pros and guest at the website and thousands of tips that you can take to the pay window of your next roping!

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