The art of driving a racing car is largely psychological. The ability for the driver to relax and consistently execute the actions he needs to each lap is key for success on track. A defining element of successful racing drivers is the support structure that he has built around himself.
It is critical for the driver to immerse himself in an environment where he can feel confident in his ability, comfortable in taking on new challenges, and supported through the continuous development of his skills.
What this means is as a driver, you must build support structures around you which solidify your confidence in your ability to perform. Support structures come in two forms, internal and external.
Internal Support: An internal support structure is how you, as the driver, mentally condition yourself to focus and maintain motivation. Internal conditioning is important, as it is the foundation for the driver’s self-confidence in his ability. A driver can build up his internal support structure through three ways.
- Generating positive self-talk
- Reflecting on positive past experiences, where you have experienced a great success
- Positive visualization of tangible success in the near-future.
External Support: An external support structure is developed through the people that the driver surrounds himself with. These people motivate the driver, keep situations in perspective, and help him focus on achieving specific goals both on and off track. These people provide a key psychological stability for the driver, especially during challenging times.
The people that the driver chooses to be part of his support network, must be well thought-out, and provide a positive environment for the driver to share his thoughts and ideas. When choosing the people for your external support network, ensure that the people selected are supportive of your racing and provide positive solutions to help you reach your goals.
The great thing about developing an external support network is that the people in it do not have to completely understanding racing in order to be supportive. Sometimes, it’s great to have people who aren’t racers with you, to provide you insight from another perspective. (See related article – “ You don’t need to be a racer to help coach one.”)
Although it’s great to have mechanics and crew who understand racing supporting you; family members, friends, or strong supporting fans can all be involved in your support structure, just as long as they continue to provide a positive outlook. The key is that they are positive, engaged and adaptable.
Remember: It is imperative that if a person inside your external support network starts to become negative, and take the attention away from a positive success on track that they must be removed. A racing driver has no place for negativity, from himself or people who are attempting to prevent his success.
When you are a part of a driver’s support structure that it is critical that you pay attention to what you say and the body language that you convey to your driver. Your driver is depending on you to provide him with a positive focus that he will succeed in his attempts, so make sure that you engage with him in a positive and proactive way.
Do not risk that your driver just “knows that you support him”. Make sure that the reminders are apparent and flowing in order to foster a lasting working relationship.
(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!)