About 20 years ago, when Sega came out with ‘Pole Position’, video-games weren’t much help for the up- and- coming racing driver. However, now with the advances in modern video game technology, I feel that racing games have become a useful driver development tool.
For drivers like myself, who don’t have access or budget to spend all day at the track or in a state-of-the-art racing simulator, using a video game is useful aid for when I am able to set a wheel on the track. Of course, you don’t get the same kinesthetic information as you would in a real car. I don’t think that racing games should be used to simulate real-world physical driving. However, I think a good video game is useful to develop stronger mental programming within the driver.
As part of my own training regime, I’ll play a racing game after my workout in order to help me improve my mental environment. In my mind’s eye, I visualize having strong race starts, keeping consistent lap times, how to overtake difficult opponents, etc. I’ll take the time to analyze my own ‘self-talk’ while I’m racing, to see where I can help myself improve my focus over an extended period of time.
From the conversations in the garage before I “get into the car”, to the post-race debrief where I’m analyzing my recent performance, I try to visualize the ‘full experience.’ In short, I do my best to provide my brain with strong mental imagery to grow from.
Of course this is all to a point. Mental development is all about training the subconscious mind. As I’ve written in articles before, the brain doesn’t understand the word ‘no’, so if a driver approaches a video game with the same mental focus and attention as he would his real car/kart, it helps to bridge the gap in his/her subconscious mind for the next time that he’s on track.
When developing good mental habits, I believe that you have to provide the brain with a scenario that it will believe in order for the training to be the most effective. Otherwise, the training doesn’t work. For example, rather than trying to focus on winning every race, which is improbable, it can be of more benefit to train the mind on how to learn how to make the best of a challenging situation. (For example, starting a race in 13th place or in a slower car.)
If you’re into racing, do you do this sort of mental programming too? Think about it next time you pop in a copy of Gran Turismo. You may have just found another use for your Playstation…