December 5-14, 2024


Mental Coach

Mar 31, 2023

Mental Coach

Tyson Durfey has taken his career experiences and is now using them to help others. 

            Hours spent in vehicles crisscrossing the country just for mere seconds of time in an arena can take their toll on a rodeo athlete. Then competing on and with animals, weather conditions, injuries and in many cases being away from family, the ability to win is mostly “between our ears.” 

            That’s a belief belonging to Tyson Durfey, the 2016 PRCA World Champion, and he is using his experiences to help others find their “edge.” Tyson, who has 14 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® qualifications to his credit, has experienced the highs and lows of rodeo and everything in between. His first-hand knowledge, along with personal training and learning from others, has led him to a second career as a mentor.

            There are a lot of quotes that rodeo athletes refer to in their quest for Wrangler NFR qualifications and gold buckles. “Have a short memory. Iron sharpens iron. Don’t let the lows get too low or the highs get too high.” And many more. 

Tyson Durfey at his 13th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. | Photo By: Tom Donoghue

            Tyson has heard them all, and he’s been broke, lost horses, and come back from injuries. He knows how to start over and he knows how to win. For him, winning isn’t just about the competition in the arena. Mental toughness is all encompassing and includes keeping your mind right outside of the arena so you can work to be your best in any circumstance.

            His journey started as a teenager when he would go explore abandoned houses, look at them and imagine how he would fix them up. In one of those houses he found a cassette tape of Tony Robbins book, Unleash the Power Within. Tyson listened to that and when he heard how Tony Robbins created himself to be a positive-thinking, optimistic guy that smiled a lot, he thought he could do that too. 

            Tyson grew up in Missouri roping, riding horses and working with cattle. Days started at 4 a.m. and finished at 11 at night. He learned about hard work, horsemanship and roping from his father, Roy. The value of that work ethic saw him starting businesses welding and shoeing horses to save money to rodeo. 

            He joined the PRCA in 2003 and even though his first season didn’t go as well as he had hoped, he still finished in the top 50. He was thinking about the business world and not qualifying for the NFR had him leaning towards leaving rodeo. 

            He had a chance to move to Washington and go to work for Fred Brown, another roper who was also an entrepreneur. Tyson saw this as a perfect opportunity to learn so he moved from Missouri to Washington. It was Fred that told him he had too much talent to walk away from the competition. 

            “Fred’s the kind of guy that believes he can do anything. He’s an incredible businessman and a great toper. With him behind me and my ability in the mechanics of roping that I learned from my dad, it was like the perfect storm to create a winner. 

            “Fred got me to the NFR, but there was still a missing link,” he added. “I needed the belief in myself that I could beat the best in the world.” 

            After eight years of working with Fred, he met Jay Novacek, a three-time Super Bowl champion who had played for the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys. Tyson asked him if he knew of any sports psychologists that would be interested in working with him. 

            “He said, ‘I don’t know of any that would work for you, but I’ll do it.’” Tyson said. “I was like holy cow, this is amazing.” So, a relationship began that saw them working together at least twice a week for more than two years. They developed a physical and mental training program for Tyson. 

            In 2015, the former football tight end spent 10 days in Las Vegas with Tyson. They appeared on Flint Rasmussen’s Outside the Barrel at Cowboy Christmas and Jay told everyone that Tyson would be a world champion. He commented that it was impossible for anyone to work as hard as Tyson and not win a world title. 

Tyson Durfey roping at the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. | Photo By: Tom Donoghue

            Hearing Jay express that over a microphone was like having a lightbulb go off for Tyson. He tied two calves in the Thomas & Mack Center in six seconds and one of those was the fastest time of his career. 

            “He’d never shared that with me privately,” Tyson said. “It showed me what the power of having somebody that you love and respect believing in you can do. It allows you to push past any limiting beliefs that you have in yourself.” 

            The next year, Tyson left Las Vegas with the gold buckle and in 2017 had one of the best regular seasons of his 20-year career. Since then, he has completed the Modern Day Knight Project, gone to seminars, done public speaking and started his own mentorship program. 

            No Limits Mentorship focuses on roping and addresses mental toughness. For those that want to take it a step farther, he now offers a mental toughness master class. The master class dives deep into concepts and the principles of how to be mentally tough, how to have massive confidence and to be the best version of yourself. 

            He’s constantly looking for ways to test his own limits and keep that mental edge in his own game. Afraid of sharks, he went swimming with them in the South Pacific. Insanely afraid of heights, he jumped out of an airplane. He has gone through the Navy SEALs Hell Week. And he’s still competing, building businesses and most of all spending time with his family. 

            It’s a constant effort to be the best that he can be in all areas of his life. 

Tyson Durfey practices what he preaches to keep himself competitive in the tie-down roping at rodeos. He won $7,200 at the 2022 edition of Cheyenne Frontier Days. | CFD photo by Jackie Jensen.

            “The key to growth and being mentally tough is keeping promises to yourself and other people, especially when it’s a struggle or gets hard.” Tyson said. “It boils down to having a toolbox that can fix any problem. If you have the right tools and strategies in your mind, you can fix any problem. Anybody can be mentally tough. It’s not reserved for the special or talented. It’s reserved for those who seek growth and development, even if their only getting one percent better a week. Over time you will become a bad ass.” 

            Tyson has helped more than 1,500 individuals through mentorship. Most of them are ropers of some sort, but he’s also had bull riders and businessmen reach out to him as well. He’s a born and bred entrepreneur that loves building and growing businesses and roping. He’s using his passion to help others. His future plans include some roping, funding and helping charities and creating digital products that are at the service of others. And as long as he keeps adding tools to his toolbox, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to help others find the right tools to gain the mental toughness needed in and out of the rodeo arena.