I , too, do not do any set form of "join up". I do not run my horse around until he is tired and begs to come in. If he will follow me around the pen from the moment we walk in, which he often does, then he is already mentally hooked on. The reason I may drive him away, and it's better to say "send" him away, or "move his feet", is to see if he will maintain a mental connection to me even when asked to move.
When I ride him, I will be asking him to move, not to stay next to me. but I dont' want his mind to leave just because he starts moving off. So, in ground work, I am kind of testing him to see if I say, move your shoulder away from me and walk off, ok now I am no longer asking you to move, I have just stopped and am standing here, will you notice that? Will you be so attentively listening to for my next direction that when I cease pushing you away you will turn back to me for direction. THAT is what I want.
ANd, if I am asking for the horse to move forward, I want him to move forward in accordance with the amount of forward I am asking for. So, if I want him to move forward and really GO!, then I will put some reall push on him. If he holds back, then I need to maybe open up and put some sudden pressure on to break him out of whatever mental block or resistance is making him not want to run as fast as I ask. Once he moves freely forward, I cease all push . His job is to notice this and look back to me , slow down and come to a halt, and look to me, and if I invite him, come in to me for a rest and a cuddle.
Round penning is like dancing; I push, he gives, I draw, he comes. When the horse is really mentally hooked on, he becomes like a mirror. I am not saying I always achieve this but I look for this. THis is developing feel. I am a real beginner, but I have inklings at times for what it feels like and it's amazing!