Team roping requires close cooperation and timing between highly skilled ropers, a header and heeler. As in other timed events, the team ropers start from boxes on each side of the chute from which the steer enters the arena. When the steer reaches its advantage point, the barrier is released and the header takes off in pursuit, with the heeler trailing slightly further behind. If the header breaks the barrier before the steer completes its head start, the ropers are assessed a ten second penalty.
There are three types of legal head catches; either the rope must be around both horns, one horn and the head or around the head of the steer. Once the header makes his catch, he turns the steer to expose his rear legs to the heeler. The heeler then attempts to rope both legs. If only one is caught, there is a five-second penalty. The clock is stopped when there is no slack in the ropes and the horses are facing each other.