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Mental Preparation - What does it take to race

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We have recently started a new show called Opinion Nation.  In this show we will raise different topics for discussion.

 

When racing mental preparation can be everything.  Does it take 100% concentration to win?  What do you do to prepare for a race or to get in the right mind state before a race?

 

Let us know your experiences from sim racing.

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as long as im physicaly able then i can race, im in construction, renovation and restoration, if ive spent a day on a roof cutting in timbers then i dont even think about racing when i get home, if ive spent the day painting some window interiors then im on it, i find its more down to how im feeling physicaly than my mental state, if my body cant do it then i make mistakes and then my head goes, when i am fit to race i can pretty much jump in and go, i never aim for the win but just a clean race and getting my pace consistant,  and if a win comes then it was meant to be

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I have been trying to make my rig as immersive as I can.  I find that if I am not totally into what I am doing, my mind will start to wonder, even in middle of a race, i will be thinking about work, family, friends, just whatever pops into my mind.  If I turn it way up, turn the lights off, etc. etc. I feel like i'm forcing myself to think ONLY about the race.  Sometimes that backfires though, because I get waaay too tense and have a panic attack and choke and mess up.

 

Its a fine line for me, between concentrating on the race without getting too tense, and being able to relax just a bit without letting my mind wonder.

 

I used to be in a kart league for GT5 and I also found, that if I didn't get down there at least 2 hours before the race, to practice and talk to the guys and just get my whole psyche into the race, then I would make a lot of mistakes, even if I had practiced tons previously.

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yeah agree w synth, getting into, and particularly maintaining your composure and keeping a level head is vital. Sometimes even getting too hot in my little game room can put me off a race. hmm i really need to get a fan to get thru the aussie summers. 

 

i found that as soon i take the lead in an online multiplayer race, my heart races & i get overexcited and can blow my chances quickly. A simple trick I learnt, is to practice a slow almost meditative breath in & out when i sense this coming on. Has worked for me & i can now for the most part maintain my composure to win a challenging race

 

This advice I always remember due to real life track story. A guy in a high HP, big turbo Supra blacked out on the main, very long , straight at Queensland Raceway. He ran the car off the road & was lucky to survive. He blacked because he got way excited with the g-forces & speed & his body didnt pass on the message to breathe!   

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This is a great topic and consistancy and composure is something I really need to work on.  The first few laps are always critical but most importantly for me is settling into a rhythm as quickly as possible and as soon as the brakes and tires get up to temp.

 

I make mistakes when I know I don't quite have the speed and the guys behind me are faster.  When there's no one behind me and a car ahead that I know I'm quicker than or that I can keep up with then I quickly settle in and get consistant laps that match my time trial times.

 

When I'm in the lead which has only been a few times it has varied, for me if I'm in the lead early on with a pack of cars behind me that's when I've made mistakes, if I get in the lead while I'm already settled in then I'm more likely to hold onto the position.

 

Then there's the whole unforced errors when my mind starts drifting off when there's no one in front or behind me, those are the most irritating mistakes of all.

 

I've found that as soon as I feel my arms tense up then I tell myself to relax and breathe, I have also turned off the virtual mirror as I was becoming obsessed with looking in the mirror and watching the cars from behind catch me rather than concentrating on my own racing line and braking points.

 

I'm very interested to hear other peoples technicques for improving composure during a race.

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I always focus on what I need to do next well in advance. Like I'm already driving the next two corners before I actually near them. If anything happens that's not "planned" I tell myself to forget about it. I only want to be paying attention to the related aspects of my driving. So no outside distractions either. ( I make sure my dirving area is Do not disturb!) :)

 

I think it's important also to build discipline in when to push hard and went not to. If your chasing a guy you know your faster than, depending on the skill of the driver your chasing, the car, the track it may actually be impossible to make a pass. I know when I raced in the iRacing World Championships it's very often you'd find yourself chasing someone and those guys just don't make mistakes. So your only way past is either to push really hard or to wait for traffic, or pitstops, in many tracks passing was extremely diffcult. So the best option was to wait until traffic was around, and get as close as possible during that time or to try some pit strategy. Of course if you find yourself behind someone and they are slowing you down by a lot then there is good reason to keep pushing to find a way past, if you enough faster you will get by eventually. I put extra focus on corners leading into passing areas in that case.

 

Under Pressure from someone else. I just try to remind myself of all the best passing locations, and to make sure to put extra focus on hitting my marks. Missing the line or braking is all it takes to lose a position. So instead of focusing on my mirror I focus more on my braking and turning, and take a small peak at the right moment to make sure they aren't diving up the inside or are close enough to make such a move. I always try to plan for those moves, and have a cross over line to get them back if they try it. :)

 

Leading races. I find most of the time I'm very relaxed when I'm leading more so then when I'm not. If I do have competition though I just do the same thing. I remind myself that I need to focus on my line and my braking. If I am pulling away by a large margin I just drive a very relaxed pace. I continue to hit my marks but I don't push the issue. Will be more smooth with my pedals and not risk tire spin. But sometimes I just go all out as well. For two reasons. One I want to know how fast I can actually go if I need to (maybe some other race, or if something bad happens and I need to recover) other reason is sometimes your just in a certain mind set and slowing down is the worst thing you can do as it messes up your pattern. I just can feel that somehow and I know I can't slow down.

 

Now as for Shaun's question. Does it take 100% to win. I will so no. Because it completely depends on who your racing against. I've won races at 99% or 100%, but I've won races at 80% as well. So it really depends on the competition. However I have learned it's best to try to put all you can. Because it's good practice for when it does count. :)

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I think this,  http://safeisfast.com/sections/4-mental-preparation#.UTets2cwi-c is the perfect lesson for this topic.

excellent post there, i like how they talk about being task orientated rather than visualising what if disaster scenarios which breaks your focus.

 

The video sums up nicely many of the common traps racers fall into. This one I have been working on addressing myself lately.  When making a mistake, any major setback, it is so common to be angry at yourself, & try to make up for the error in the next corner, then blow it all together with a consequential failure. As mentioned in the ep, Darin did this exact thing in a recent iRacing comp in a Riley at Daytona, where he was racing well but his concentration was faltering due to poor sportmanship with another racer blocking him. i recall he went off briefly, then next corner rushed to save time and jump back into a lost rhythm and put the Riley into the wall. Race over. 

 

So to get back on topic & answer Shaun's question, i think a racer needs to have close to 100% concentration, and the ability to refocus when it inevitably breaks. I think we need to separate the mental task of concentration from the physical task of achieving a rhythm. What i mean is that you would try and maintain total, constant concentration, and if something goes wrong, then you refocus immediately and concentrate on getting back into a rhythm again and not being impatient. Which you would do over the next lap going at slower safer speeds. Not immediately trying to drive at the same corner speeds or make up for time lost when your rhythm is shot.

 

Wondering.. do any of you guys act like a pro athlete & play psych up music immediately before a race?

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LOL.... how to stay mentaly alert to win a race?

Hell, I'm just happy to stay mentally alert to finish a race!!!! LOL :shock:

I try so terribly hard to keep my mind on the race but I'm one of those whose mind wanders a lot, the odd time I can stay totally focused but this seems to only happen when I'm on a track I like, on iRacing I constantly screw up on Slime Rock Park (which I hate with a passion, lol), but then again, I do really well on Laguna Seca since I love that track.

I would imagine everyone has a different way of trying to keep their concentration on the race.

As for playing psych up music before a race, I don't, I think I just keep telling myself....."don't hit anyone, don't hit anyone, don't hit anyone!" LOL :mrgreen:

Take care

 

Regards:  >>>> Jack <<<<

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I have been sim-racing for a long time and it took time to build up the mental fortitude to perform in endurance road races and full-length oval races. I will tell you that my wife (who has zero interest in sim-racing, or racing in general) doesn't at all understand why I can't go directly to bed after finishing a race. I tell her every time, "My adrenaline is pumping, I've got to calm down for a little bit before laying down." She just doesn't understand this.

 

Here is a controversial topic, somewhat related to mental preparedness... I get jittery late in races when I'm in contention to win, and I don't know if that is because I drink too much caffeine or what, but I try to lay off the stuff any time I'm going to race. I've noticed if I have a couple of alcoholic beverages (literally a couple, not 5 or 6), I am less nervous, and much smoother with the wheel. I have talked to many sim-racers that have said, "Oh yeah, if I have a few drinks, I'm better!" But I know there are a bunch of people in the opposite corner who think you should be permanently banned from sim-racing if you've ever had a drop of alcohol the day you're entering a race.

 

I like to think that I'm somewhere in the middle, because while these aren't real cars, and no one is going to literally be injured because someone is "driving" drunk, we do take our races seriously, and if someone causes a crash or plows into a crash after it happened because they were drinking, that's an issue. Let's see how many feathers get ruffled with that one :)

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....no one is going to literally be injured because someone is "driving" drunk, we do take our races seriously, and if someone causes a crash or plows into a crash after it happened because they were drinking, that's an issue. Let's see how many feathers get ruffled with that one :)

 

Should simracers be drug tested too? :ugeek:

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I have been sim-racing for a long time and it took time to build up the mental fortitude to perform in endurance road races and full-length oval races. I will tell you that my wife (who has zero interest in sim-racing, or racing in general) doesn't at all understand why I can't go directly to bed after finishing a race. I tell her every time, "My adrenaline is pumping, I've got to calm down for a little bit before laying down." She just doesn't understand this.

 

Here is a controversial topic, somewhat related to mental preparedness... I get jittery late in races when I'm in contention to win, and I don't know if that is because I drink too much caffeine or what, but I try to lay off the stuff any time I'm going to race. I've noticed if I have a couple of alcoholic beverages (literally a couple, not 5 or 6), I am less nervous, and much smoother with the wheel. I have talked to many sim-racers that have said, "Oh yeah, if I have a few drinks, I'm better!" But I know there are a bunch of people in the opposite corner who think you should be permanently banned from sim-racing if you've ever had a drop of alcohol the day you're entering a race.

 

I like to think that I'm somewhere in the middle, because while these aren't real cars, and no one is going to literally be injured because someone is "driving" drunk, we do take our races seriously, and if someone causes a crash or plows into a crash after it happened because they were drinking, that's an issue. Let's see how many feathers get ruffled with that one :)

If you kicked out everyone that has been drinking the night of a sim race the iracing servers would be a lonely place Friday and Saturday nights....and Thursdays....and Wednesdays....  My obutto revolution cockpit came with a cup holder so i feel like I have no choice but to have a beer bottle in it whenever I'm racing. :)

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If you kicked out everyone that has been drinking the night of a sim race the iracing servers would be a lonely place Friday and Saturday nights....and Thursdays....and Wednesdays....  My obutto revolution cockpit came with a cup holder so i feel like I have no choice but to have a beer bottle in it whenever I'm racing. :)

 

HAHA! I will tell you this, in Carb Cup races, and any other races I do that don't count for anything, you best believe I have a few beers... But I was really specifically getting at official races with my earlier post.

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This is a topic that is definitely subject to "different strokes for different folks."

 

I personally just take 10 minutes to wrap up anything else I'm doing, test my controls, etc. I get a few diet cokes or red bulls, take another few minutes away from the computer and settle into a focused mindset, and then I just sit down and race. 

 

For me, getting onto the grid is very calming, since there is no more "did I practice enough" or "did I do well in qualy" and it's just time to race. If I make a mistake, I swear a bunch while I figure how to get back on the track, and carry on.

 

 

One of the reasons I like racing is that it is a very mind-clearing thing to do. I don't think, I just drive. 

 

 

After races is when I let myself start thinking again and get annoyed at my frak-ups, or angry at other drivers who fraked me up. During the race, I just race. 

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It is a real 'Ask 50 people, get 50 answers' type of question.

 

To me, I don't really take a lot of time with the mental side of preparation before I race. Typically I do a quick test after I sign up to make sure everything works and then I'll head into the room when it opens. From there, my real 'preparation' is on who may be of a concern to wreck and making little notes.

 

Then once the green flag flies, it's off to the races and react to what you may see. I study other drivers and my own line while competing to see if I am catching the drivers ahead and keeping tabs if I see one of the drivers of concern and how they may race in case of a wreck.

 

If I end up on the lead part of a challenge or being chased down, I'd say my brain gets a little arrogant and a grin crosses my face and I continue to run hard and run my line. If they catch me and can pull ahead, good on them but I'm not going down with a fight and I'll put the pressure on and see if they make a mistake.

 

So yeah, that's how I prepare to race. Nothing in depth but nothing just 'Oh I'll go race! *WRECK!* '

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Hi Everyone:

 

My tip about mental preparation is racing with a spotter on teamspeak or what ever voice over.  This is particular easy to do with iRacing.  I'm not talking about having a spotter come race day but have a friend spot you during some practise races.  Me & my friend do this often and for us it helps us be a better racer and develope better track management. 

 

You would be surpised about how many little things you take with you come race day.  When we spot each other during a practise race its more like a one sided conversation as the spotter is just there to inform, check out the field of racers, and support you with your strengths and weaknesses.  So its good to have a friend that knows your capabilities as a racer.  The spotter never asks direct quesions but just talks to you through the race.  The spotter comments about the field of drivers, positions, times, distances, keeping your line, reminding you where to keep your eyes, and encourages you.

 

I highly recommend you and your buddy team up from time to time and spot each other.  Still to this day during everyone of my races I hear those calming words from my spotter: "Ok TC straight away coming up take long deep breaths...your looking good...get ready for turn one."  Shaun & Darin you guys seem to be great buddies and this is only a suggestion but maybe during Shaun's next race you could show how a spotter collaborates with a racer.

 

Take Care,

 

Tin Can & Scooter 

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yeah agree w synth, getting into, and particularly maintaining your composure and keeping a level head is vital. Sometimes even getting too hot in my little game room can put me off a race. hmm i really need to get a fan to get thru the aussie summers. 

 

i found that as soon i take the lead in an online multiplayer race, my heart races & i get overexcited and can blow my chances quickly. A simple trick I learnt, is to practice a slow almost meditative breath in & out when i sense this coming on. Has worked for me & i can now for the most part maintain my composure to win a challenging race

 

This advice I always remember due to real life track story. A guy in a high HP, big turbo Supra blacked out on the main, very long , straight at Queensland Raceway. He ran the car off the road & was lucky to survive. He blacked because he got way excited with the g-forces & speed & his body didnt pass on the message to breathe!   

I read this yesterday and also get the excited jitters when I've gotten into the lead on iRacing.  Long story short I found myself leading on lap 1 last night in a Skip Barber race and consciously breathed like this suggestion and I not only held it together, but finished 45 seconds ahead of P2 with no mistakes all race!!!  Thanks dude!!!

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I read this yesterday and also get the excited jitters when I've gotten into the lead on iRacing.  Long story short I found myself leading on lap 1 last night in a Skip Barber race and consciously breathed like this suggestion and I not only held it together, but finished 45 seconds ahead of P2 with no mistakes all race!!!  Thanks dude!!!

awesome!  congrats on the win, i feel like i'm right there on the podium with you  :-P  

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I think the key to putting yourself in a position to win is less about specific preparations beforehand and more about maintaining focus and having a short memory on the track.   I liken it to a quarterback in football or a PGA golfer as examples..  

 

QBs that are the most successful aren't the ones that are always perfect but they are the ones that even when mistakes are made they are able to push them out of their mind, maintain focus, and comeback to have an opportunity to win.  They have a short memory of the mistake(s).  Like Manning or Brady when they throw some INT(s) and put their team down, they are able to forget that and keep focus and bring their team back where other QBs crumble under the pressure.  

 

Same way with the old Tiger Woods.  He was so successful because on Sunday on the final few holes, even when he made a mistake he could keep his focus and make a shot that put him back in a position to win it.   Other guys couldn't maintain their composure or focus if on the 18th hole and only needing par to win they put one off the fairway from the tee.  They would end up choking and making more bad shots.  Tiger was able to forget the mistake and maintain focus and hit a shot out of trouble that put him back in a position to get a win.

 

For me this is my biggest problem.  I make a mistake on track.  Fixate to much on it.  My focus waivers and I end up making more mistakes.  

 

Preparation beforehand can help with this to a certain point by making sure you don't have the obvious distractions but I find the biggest distraction is my own mind and not anything external.  Still something I fight with.

 

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