PUEBLO, Colo. – J.W. Hart is one of the PBR’s all-time greats.
Hart earned the nickname “Iron Man” when he competed in 197 consecutive premier series events. He racked up over 200 rides on the premier series, posted 10 PBR World Finals qualifications, and was inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor in 2009.
He also knows he could’ve been significantly better.
“I look back on my career and I wish I would’ve worked out better and done things different,” Hart told the Cowboy Channel last month. “I know for a fact that I would’ve been a better bull rider.”
It was a lesson he learned the hard way when he got on his last bull in 2015 following his 2008 retirement during a special one-night, pay-per-view event called Unfinished Business at his PBR event in Decatur, Texas. Hart tied with two-time PBR World Champion Chris Shivers for the victory despite getting knocked out right at the whistle.
“I had to work out for four months,” Hart said. “I had to drop 25 pounds to try and get on that bull. I was way out of shape. And it learned me what a guy that was in really good physical shape, how much better he could be.”
Hart, the head coach of the Kansas City Outlaws for the upcoming PBR Team Series, is now a huge proponent of bull riding’s more athletic turn. He and the coaching staffs of the other seven teams were in Pueblo, Colorado, last month for the inaugural PBR Team Series Combine, where more than 50 riders were on hand to prove their mettle.
The first-ever PBR Team Series Draft, presented by ZipRecruiter, is on May 23 at Texas Live! in Arlington, Texas. The Outlaws have the fourth overall pick and have already been drumming up excitement amongst their hometown fans. On Thursday, Councilmember Kevin O’Neill introduced an ordinance honoring and welcoming the Outlaws to Kansas City.
At the combine, riders got on practice bulls and were put through various drills, but it went far deeper than just that.
“They’re going to look at their diets and what they eat, and I actually heard they’re going to look at their bone densities and body fat, things like that,” Hart said. “Frame and statures and how fast they can run, how fast they can’t run, and do all these measurements, maybe not so much even for the draft this year, but to get that information that years down the road in research, we may be able to put two and two together to say, ‘Hey, this type of guy is better than this type of guy,’ or, ‘This guy with this feature is better than this or not as good as this guy.’
“They’re putting a lot of research, a lot of time, and putting really the science behind it, too.”
Antwon Burton, former NFL defensive tackle and PBR Sport Performance Center Executive Director, ran the riders through exercises encompassing grip strength, hip/groin strength, balance and stability, explosive ability, and core strength/flexibility.
Riders also underwent cognitive testing via Ryzer’s TAP (Troutwine Athletic Profile) technology and underwent body composition testing (height, weight, and BMI).
TAP bills itself as an “athletic mindset assessment.” It was created by Dr. Robert Troutwine, a psychologist trusted by clubs across major pro sports, including Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, for almost four decades to help them figure out what makes players tick.
It’s a far cry from the way things were during Hart’s career and earlier, when legends like Wacey Cathey famously eschewed any other physical activity.
“He said he didn’t have to stretch,” Hart said of Cathey. “He said that’s what the first jump was for. And a guy’s workout may have been going to haul hay or going to the bar and partying all night. Times have changed, that’s for sure.
“The guys today, they’re athletes. There are some cowboys in there, but even the ones that are cowboys, they’re athletes because they work at it.”