Amateur racers can improve themselves if they practice a little bit each day. There are simple things that drivers can do to improve their racing that only take 15 to 30 minutes per day, and cost you very little. The sweet thing is that a lot drivers aren’t even attempting to do many of these little things during their ‘downtime’. That gives you an advantage.
You’ve got 30 minutes today, right? Then you can start becoming faster.
At the core of it all, the quality of a racer’s performance is determined by how well he uses his mind and body while he’s on the track.(*) The higher quality inputs that you’re able to provide, the greater effect will you get out of the machinery that you’re using.
The first step to improving your performance is to be able to provide yourself with the proper mental space in which to operate. When properly dialed-in, the brain has the amazing ability to slow things down, and get switched into the ‘Zone’. This will allow you so to perform high quality complex tasks while moving at speed, in a way that feel effortless.
Having a relaxed state of mind is required for a driver to get into the ‘Zone’. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until the next time that you get to the track to practice getting yourself relaxed. You always bring your mind along with you, wherever you go, so you always have an opportunity to train.
First, let’s get started by teaching ourselves how to start getting into a relaxed state of mind.
Get started – Breathe
When you first start your relaxation practice, I’d suggest finding a quiet place which is free of external distractions. Set aside at least thirty minutes, so that you have ample time and do not feel rushed. Put yourself in a comfortable position. Sitting down may be the most helpful, as this will be the position you’ll be in when you practice this in the car.
Close your eyes, and begin taking slow deep breaths. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then let it out in one slow action. Repeat this exercise as you clear your thoughts. Focus only on breathing in and out, as you feel your body relaxing.
When you first start these exercises, it may take a while longer to get your mind cleared. It may feel cluttered with excess mental ‘noise’. That’s natural, so the extra time will be helpful in getting you to calm down. Also, being that we’re all human, don’t feel discouraged if it takes you longer on some days to quiet your mind either.
“Wait, that’s it? All I did was sit down and breath!”
This is a simple exercise, but important. It’s the first step in beginning to improve your mental landscape by changing your brain’s biochemistry, so you can perform better.
By relaxing, you are lowering your mind’s normally hyper-active brainwave activity into a predominately ‘alpha state’ where it is more receptive to the environment around it. By putting out more alpha brainwaves, that allows your brain to subconsciously provide you with higher quality sensory inputs.
Those times when you’ve been able to ‘react without thinking about it’, you are in an alpha state. That’s the ideal place for the mind to be when it wants to perform at its peak.**
Remember, the goal is to get yourself centered and body relaxed regardless of the environment, so you can work at it’s best when you get to the racetrack. With practice you’ll be able to get relaxed faster, and won’t need the entire thirty minutes. I’d suggest using all of the time anyway, because being in the ‘alpha state’ for longer never hurt anyone!
Try this and give me some feedback on how this is working for you!
* (Note: I will be defining the driver in the masculine tense throughout these articles, only because it makes it easier for me to write. (He, him, etc.) In reality, racing drivers can be both male and female. I actually encourage more women to get on the racetrack and start mixing it up!)
** Take a look at the hyperlinks to learn more about alpha brainwaves, if you’re curious more about them. Another place to look into this concept of alpha brainwave activity is in Ross Bentley’s Speed Secrets book series. I’d recommend reading that if you want to learn more about how to get into a relaxed alpha state, along with other useful racing techniques.