Improving Concentration on the Track

I recently received a question from a kart driver about how to improve a driver’s concentration on the track in motorsports. Here is the question…

“Hi Patrick, firstly I’d like to thank you for your 10 week mental training e-course for racers. The information is already making a difference in my driving. I’ve been racing karts now for about six months and have been learning and improving heaps. However, one thing I find holding me back is my level of concentration. When I’m in my kart, I find it hard to keep my concentration over the time of a race (or even just in one lap) so if you can help me with that it would be greatly appreciated.”

Most racers can focus well even for one lap. You have the ability to concentrate on the track. What most likely happens is you become distracted or you focus on the wrong stuff. For example, you might have been thinking about how important the race is for you or worried about what fast guys are coming into your mirrors.

Distractions can come from two places – the outside, from the environment such as the weather, track conditions, or from other competitors or the spectators.

Another type of distraction are internal distractions. You can also be distracted by your own thoughts that flow freely into your mind, unbidden, when you least need them. You make these up all on your own.

Internal distractions are things such as thinking about the past lap, worrying too much about results, or focusing too much on past mistakes.

What distractions break your concentration?

Most likely, you have your own specific distractions, which differ from the next person. Some racers have a low tolerance for visual distractions, such as things going on around the track. However, the hardest distraction to break when you are racing are your own internal distractions – focusing on the last lap or mistake you made in turn number two, for example.

In order to improve your focus on the track, you have to define what’s important to focus on during a lap.

What is relevant to racing only?

Many of the racers I work with divide corners into sections such as entry, apex, and exit.

What do you have to focus on in each section of the corner to execute your best?

I consider these performance cues, such as focusing on your break point. I also want you to be aware of your own internal distractions on the track.

Your most important task to improve concentration is to refocus when you get off task or distracted. You need to recognize first that your mind has wandered away from performance cues. As soon as you become aware that you’re off-task, you need to adjust your focus so you can get back to focusing on each corner of the track.

Refocusing is the most important step in concentration because it takes awareness and commitment on your part. You will get distracted on the track because you are human. You can’t be perfect with your focus. Your key to optimal concentration on the race track is to refocus as quickly as possible, so you don’t let the distraction or irrelevant thought cause you to lose valuable time.

Here is a summary of the process:

  1. Identify the performance cues that are relevant for driving.
  2. Immerse yourself in the task-relevant cues you identified in number one.
  3. Recognize when you are off-task, distracted, or not focused on driving.
  4. Create a strategy to help you refocus on your driver cues. This is the most important step in dealing with distractions and breakdowns in focus.

Sign up for my 10-week mental training e-course for motorsports to improve your self-confidence in racing.

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