Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Secret to High Speed Sport Success Revealed - Track Notes Make Gold Medal Winners


Here is a deeply significant insight into the mind of a champion, who has won the Olympic gold in Skeleton.

It's absolutely instructive to karters because it is about going as fast as you can on a well learned track on a very simple machine.  Did you miss it?????
"As soon as I finished on Friday I started writing my track notes, it's something I always do. It sounds crazy because I won by nearly a second, but I've been thinking about the four runs and how I could have got them faster. There is so much to improve on."  Full article here
Taking track notes is so important to Lizzy Yarnold's success that she felt absolutely compelled to update her notes after her gold medal run before celebrating the biggest result possible in the sport.  She didn't drop everything and get carried away with the euphoria of conquering the world, she was so wrapped up in her secret to success that she sat down with pen and paper and wrote down what she learned about the track.

I doubt her coach would approve of her revealing such an important part of her success, and I bet all the other competitors will be diligently updating their notes after every run from now on!

However although writing track notes is a big help, that is NOT the big secret to success! Here is the real secret:

Lizzy Yarnolds comments are like having the key to the mind of a champion that allows us to see the treasure trove of her winning approach - it's obvious to me...

She wasn't sliding for a gold medal, she was sliding to see if she could go a bit quicker on one or two turns. She found out she could, she knows how, and while she was at it she got some clues about where she might go faster next time.  She wants to write that down and go and give it another go.... she's like:

'oh a gold medal, that's nice but just wait while I write this down. If I have another go I reckon I can find a bit more!'
So, the real kicker is this:-

When you take notes you have a blueprint for how to get around a lap pretty well. BUT, you also mark on your notes some question marks that mean 'I reckon I can go quicker here'.

Next session you carry those questions in your mind with possible solutions.  You give it a try, and find out if it makes you a little bit quicker.  If you go quicker you remember and update your notes with what you just found out.

Then the process starts over.  Every time you head out on track you aren't driving round in circles trying to avoid mistakes.

You are heading out on a mission.  The mission has a strategy and a detailed plan to find a little bit of time on a specific corner with a specific method.

If you are lucky you can use data logging to prove the results.

And when you drive like this, your mindset is completely different - you are highly motivated to find time in a very specific and methodical way - you are driven by this motivation and your sessions fly by.

You always feel like you want another run to see if you can go even faster again, it becomes a never ending process of improvement.


Are you making track notes and are they effectively driving you forward every session?

Contact me to embark on a program that will give you a system that turns every track session into a mission with specific objectives and measured outcomes.  Make going faster an unstoppable compulsion!

Contact me: terence@evenflow.co.uk

www.evenflow.co.uk





Tuesday, 29 October 2013

They say you have to drive subconsciously and in the zone to be quick.... but what about when you can't!!

Non-Thinking Driving, The Zone, Subconscious Driving..... These are all the Holy Grail of driving. But they can be deadly to your performance!  Here's why....

Getting in the zone and driving subconsciously is all the rage with coaches and sports psychologists.  It's what we are all chasing because we know that when a driver reports being in the zone, they really are fully on it....

The theory goes that when we are 'in the zone' we are driving using subconscious processing.  Simply put, when we drive on auto-pilot we are using a part of our brain that works much faster.  Therefore we drive faster.

Another way to describe it is non-thinking driving.  When you drive without having to think about it you are quicker.

I'm always banging on about it, especially because it feels absolutely great - and drivers do go faster.

Fine.....

BUT, getting in the zone is not simple.  There isn't a switch you can flick to drive subconsciously, there is no 100% guarantee that when you next drive you will drop into the zone early enough in the race, or even at all.

Simply starting to think can throw you out of the zone and back into the world of being an ordinary driver, things come at you fast, you lose concentration and you make mistakes.

And what if you are totally dependant on being in the zone when you drive?  Does that mean that unless you enter that magical fairy world where time disappears and everything is easy, you will be crap?

For some drivers this is the way they live, they are slaves to the zone!!

Zone Anxiety

This is what I call the feeling that drivers experience when they know that today they just aren't feeling it.

They start to think about the consequences of not being able to get in the zone.  They know they aren't as quick unless they can tap the mystery feeling that comes and goes, and the surest way to chase away the zone is to become anxious.

Once you get zone anxiety, you've had it! You start to think about how to get back in the zone, you think as you drive.... But the zone by definition is subconscious, which means it comes without thinking.  If you think about the zone you kill it.

The Cure - Thinking is human, don't deny it and become the best thinking driver you can!

People think continuously, you can't stop it.  If you obsess about becoming a non-thinking person you get yourself into an impossible vicious circle.  Thinking is your primary function, and you can't escape it - it is what makes you, you. There isn't much left of you if you aren't thinking!

To associate thinking with poor driving will kill your confidence.  If you associate thinking with being slow, you are undermining your self as a person.  It's almost like saying, 'when I am conscious and aware, when I am thinking and trying, I'm a bit rubbish'.

That is almost the perfect recipe for creating a driver with low confidence, self-doubt and all the things that hurt performance.

So, here is my cure.

Embrace thinking when you drive - Create very detailed driving plans that require your thinking mind to work hard.

This means consciously studying the track inch by inch, think about lines, draw diagrams.

  • Memorise braking points, turn in points apex, and exits.  Know exactly where you want to be at every point on the track.
  • Know what your plan for the race is, know how you will make the start work, where you will over-take.
  • Know how hard you will use the brakes, how you will apply the throttle.
  • When out on the track, mentally recall your corner diagrams 

Learn to depend on your thinking mind to drive fast, trust your thoughts and make them work for you!

And when you fully trust your thinking mind to get you round the track as fast as possible, you no longer NEED the zone.  You don't need the magic to come, you (the normal everyday you that you are familiar with) are in control.

Ironically, since showing this approach to drivers they are far more relaxed and confident and find themselves driving in the zone much more!!  Go figure.....

If you want to make sure you head to your next event feeling like you are on a mission, fired up and ready to slap down the opposition -  go here


Friday, 25 October 2013

If You Don't Have Absolutely Clear Objectives, You'll be Driving for Somebody Else's!

Drivers get so much input (usually well meaning) from all over the place when they are at the track.  And most of the advice is contradictory.

For example, a coach would be trying to help a driver maintain focus and be relaxed, whilst his mechanic might be saying 'just get in there and kick some butt - get mad!'. Meanwhile Dad says 'with your attitude I'm not sure you want this enough' whilst Mum says 'take the pressure off yourself, just do your best'.

Now, who does the driver listen to?  Usually everyone and no-one, it all becomes a confusing mess resulting in a tired and demoralised driver, surrounded by people who say he doesn't listen.

This is a recipe for disaster!

An alternative approach - Decide for yourself what your mission in racing is, and have a clear plan on how to achieve it.

I've been working with drivers for years and years, and I haven't found a way to shield them from the constant barrage of 'helpful' advice. In fact, all the contradictory chatter that surrounds drivers is just part of the environment they have to live with.  Everybody wants to tell drivers how they should live, how they should behave and how they should drive..... it comes with the territory.

And if you don't have a strong sense of why you are racing and how you will achieve what you want YOUR way then you will be constantly pushed around by everyone around you.

Eventually you will lose your own sense of why you are driving, in effect you will be driving for someone else's purposes, and that will kill your motivation and confidence.

If you are going to be successful in karting your need your own sense of purpose, absolute certainty of why you are racing and what you want to achieve your own way.  Otherwise what is the point?

If you have that you will be able to extract quality advice from people when you need it, you won't feel attacked or disrespected.  You will be able to relate what you are told to your own goals, reject the advice that doesn't clearly help and use the advice that does.

And people around you will see you are on a mission, they will respect you more and treat you differently.

I help drivers build bullet-proof mental strength - I don't preach or lecture, I listen and help them reflect on how they can make things work.  Both in terms of the details of driving and in their whole career strategy.

It is absolutely amazing the difference it makes to drivers, when they can see that their own personal reasons for racing make sense and are going to work.  Their confidence goes through the roof!

Go here if you want help building your own bullet proof mental strength, and super clear driving plans so that you are in control of your driving and karting future.



Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Bring on the rain

PF at the weekend - nobody knew what track conditions would be for any session.

This is the new norm for summer karting - dry track with blue sky, and a huge rain storm closing in fast!

In conditions like this you are never on the right tyres, and you never have the right set up.  If you are on wets the track is drying too fast, if you are on slicks have you got the pressures right etc.  A nightmare for the mechanic, and a dream scenario for drivers who are confident they excel in difficult track conditions.

This is exactly the type of situation that highlights what your state of mind is.  Do your pre-race nerves create a feeling of anxiety and doubt, or do you feel psyched up?

If you want to feel psyched up with a 'bring it on' attitude, here's some help.

Get off the rubber
Heavy braking areas are coated with rubber, when you approach a braking zone put your kart on a different part of the track when braking.  Usually down the inside is good enough.

Minimise time that lateral grip is needed
Drive lines that minimise the time spent actually driving the kart in an arc.  For any given corner you need to maximise the time spent driving a straight line, especially when braking or accelerating.

Maximise straight line braking
For hairpins you can brake in a straight line, turning and braking will be treacherous.  For medium speed approach corners, (eg the esses at PF or oblivion at Whilton Mill) you can brake gently in a straight line and make the apex by aiming the kart straight at the apex very early.  

Maximise time in traction
Plot your corner exits in order to maximise the time spent getting maximum exit traction.  Extreme cut back lines apply, where you straight line the exit as much as possible.

Use herbs
Some kerbs that you wouldn't dream of using in the dry are essential in the wet.  When you are trying to drive in straight lines you will need to cut a lot of corners.  Be prepared to scrape the bottom of your kart and upset the mechanic!

Be prepared to use maximum steering lock
Karts are awful when the track doesn't supply the required grip to make the chassis lift the inside rear wheel. You may need to force the kart to work by using the maximum steering lock. Some guys will never have turned the wheel so far, so in the wet dont be afraid to turn the steering as far as it will go when needed.

Eliminate wheelspin
Wheelspin is the ultimate enemy of the karter facing slippery conditions.  Each wheelspin incident costs you about half a second.  So, your meaning of life is to exit corners without letting the rear wheels break traction.

Minimise rear sliding
When you allow the rear wheels to slide mid corner, you then have a much harder time exiting the corner without wheelspin.  Plan all your cornering in a way that allows you to exit without wheelspin.

Example approach wet  PF 'esses'. Beware, track conditions are organic - nothing is set in stone!


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Track walks that get results

Your bog standard track walk to me is a waste of time, its something a team or coach does probably because its what they are expected to do. If I walk the track before the day starts I use it as a chance to chat with the driver, and they do most of the talking while I find out a bit more about what makes them tick. Instructions you deliver to a driver at 9am are generally forgotten anyway!

Studying the track for real benefits

There is however a very productive way to study the track, that actually helps drivers understand how to master corners.

Here's how I do it.

Warning - this method takes up to 10 minutes per corner. Also you might get some funny looks because you'll be crouching down and walking backwards a lot!

Start at the end.
Start with the result you want to achieve as you exit the corner. Examples: you need maximum speed onto a straight, or positioning ready for the following corner.

Get very familiar with your exit point
With the desired result from the corner in mind identify your exit point. Stand at that exit point and look for an identifying mark.  It might be an exact point on the exit kerb, or maybe a mark on the asphalt.

Get very familiar with that mark, and walk BACKWARDS along the track toward the apex of the corner.

Crouch down so that your view of the track is as it would be when driving, and spot your chosen exit point. Burn this image into your mind because this will be what you'll be locking on to while you suffer 2 G loads, with scenery  flashing past and other lunatics attempting to fire you off.

Get even more familiar with your apex
Now that you understand the desired exit you will know what kind of apex you need.  It could be a late apex or a regular apex. Whichever it is, you need to locate it precisely and pick something you can easily spot. Again get very familiar with it and walk away from that apex backwards along the track.

Get to where you might turn in and crouch down. Study your chosen apex point so that you know exactly where it is. You now know how it will look from the kart, and you need to be very comfortable that you can pick it out with great confidence.

Now walk backwards away from the corner and keep looking to your apex point. Get as far away as you can before you reach another corner. You could be walking backwards along a straight until the corner apex is a long way off. Crouch down again and spot that apex, you need to be able to locate that apex from a distance confidently. If it is obscured you need to know now, and you need to be able to locate that point either directly or by using extra markers.

Now you know the critical points of that corner in real world terms better than anyone else who doesn't bother going through this procedure.  This will give your subconscious critical information and free up processing power to make you drive faster!

Little extras that make a big difference
But don't stop there, walk forwards toward your corner keeping an eye on your apex.  Now we are looking for peripheral markers. These would be braking indicators, and cornering marks that keep you clued up that you are positioned correctly as you drive the corner perfectly.

Pick a braking indicator. I say indicator because  braking points change according to grip, and you'll only use it with peripheral vision. Typically there will be marks left by locked tyres, or marshal post in braking areas.

Look for an indicators for turn in point, when to get off the brake, get on the throttle and where you expect to reach full throttle. These indicators are luxury items that you will notice with peripheral vision. When you hit them with the correct inputs you'll get a feeling of confidence that things are going to plan. This is the detailed feedback that can put you in the zone.

I recommend you walk the whole corner over again, crouching down occasionally and take notes as you go.  Map out the corner with all your details, and use this diagram as your first plan for taking the corner.

This is the serious driver's approach to mastering a corner. It takes time and effort and will set you apart from every other driver on the grid.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Create detailed cornering plans and stick to them

If you want absolute confidence that you will ace each corner every time, you need a detailed plan of how you will take the corner.....otherwise how will you know you got it right?

By a detailed plan I mean you can use all of the following.
  • Braking point
  • Turn in point
  • Brake release point
  • Throttle on point
  • Apex point
  • Maximum throttle reached point
  • Exit point
  • Revs at exit


You should be able to mark all these points on a corner diagram, and if you want to be precise you need as many physical on track marks included, like patches on the track or particular parts of kerbs.

That corner diagram represents your plan of how you take that corner, and if you want to alter that plan the place to do it is NOT on the track whilst you are driving.

If you feel that you can go faster round a corner, then you can make changes on your corner diagram in the pits before you go out and carefully consider how you will make it work.  Then spend the next track session doing your best to drive the corner as close to the plan as possible.

After the session you can then sit down and consider the results of your experiment and create another plan if needed.

This is a methodical approach that is far superior to what everyone else does, which is to drive round all day randomly changing their driving hoping to find the sweet spot - if they are lucky they will hit a sweet spot but likely forget it!  You however will have it all written down and burnt into your mind.

My drivers use diagrams with colours and a few clever tricks that they can recall in a flash before they approach each corner, they then feel absolutely confident of how they need to take the corner.  Once they have driven the corner a few times they start hitting all their points on autopilot. That's when they start to experience flow and a feeling of being in the zone, because they are able to continually measure how close to perfect they take each bend (being in flow depends on getting high quality feedback continuously).




Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ignore your race results to build real confidence

Getting a kick out of a race result is fine, but if you want to set yourself on a path of mastering kart driving then race results need to quickly become an irrelevance.

Developing real confidence in yourself.

Karting requires incredible levels of self confidence. And that self confidence needs to be built from  developing tremendous capabilities in specific kart driving skill areas.  This kind of real confidence I describe as bullet proof, it means it cannot be shaken in the face of adversity.
Results based confidence is completely different. If you allow your confidence to be built on gaining race results you are creating a future disaster. Confidence based on where you finish in a race is the opposite of bullet proof - it is fragile and dependant on factors totally out of your control.

Warning - fragile contents

Now, there are a great deal of drivers out there who feel confident based on their race results. You may look up to them or find them intimidating even.
But when your confidence is based on results, you are hiding a deep rooted fear of getting a batch of bad results.
These guys are fine when in their element, but install a bit of doubt in them by putting them in a new situation and they crumble. It happens all the time, very often when drivers move out of karting and into car racing.
Those kinds of drivers are terribly vulnerable, they took the short cut route to confidence, and they will eventually hit a confidence crisis.

The key to bullet proof confidence

Identify the skills that make a top driver, break them down into small chunks. Set out to master each of those chunks and measure your progress.
That way you build the right skills, and when you measure that progress honestly you self confidence builds on solid ground.