Q: “Some days I seem to be in the zone and drive at my best, and other days I have a much harder time driving that way. What’s going on? It’s like I’m Jekyll and Hyde! How can I drive better more consistently? How can I get in the zone more often when driving on track?”

A: One thing I know for sure is that what gets you in the zone (or flow, as it’s often called) is not necessarily what gets another driver in the zone. We’re all different, and different things “trigger” us getting into that flow state.

Thirty years ago, I started studying various parts of sports psychology, and specifically this performance state called flow or zone. I’ve coached thousands of drivers in this subject, and conducted hundreds of seminars and workshops on the topic. Through all of that, I’ve found common traits, behaviors, and tactics for helping individuals get into the zone more often. Not one hundred percent of the time (that may be impossible), but more often than if they didn’t use the strategies I gave them.

The first thing I suggest you do is think back to each and every time you felt in the zone, and recall the state of mind you were in before, during, and after driving. And going forward, I strongly suggest you keep some form of notes or a log of what you did and felt before, during, and after each time you drive. After a while, you’ll begin to notice a pattern, one that you’ll be able to deliberately use to help you get into the zone more often.

The state of mind that you’re in just before performing — driving — on track will make a difference. By state of mind, I’m talking about your emotional state – happy, sad, anxious, nervous, calm, relaxed, fearful, confident, excited, etc. Think back to when you were in the zone, and identify what combination of all of those emotions made up your state of mind. Most drivers find that there is a certain recipe of those emotional ingredients that lead to performing at their best, in the zone.

A tactic I use often with drivers is asking them to replay in their minds one of the best performances of their lives, one of the greatest experiences of their lives. This doesn’t have to be about driving. In fact, it could be while playing another sport, fully involved in a hobby, leading a business meeting, or anything else. Take a few minutes right now and identify just one really great moment in your life when you performed at your best in some activity. Vividly replay every detail, from how you felt before to how you felt afterward; what you were focused on during the activity; and what you noticed when it was all over. The more accurately, the more detailed you can make this recollection, the more effective it will be.

By replaying a past success, it’s more likely you’ll put yourself back into the “performance state of mind,” and the more likely it is that you’ll get in the zone again.

Understand, this is just one tactic to help you get in the zone more often. But it is one of the most effective I’ve used, and it’s easy to do.

Preparation helps in a couple of ways. First, with more knowledge and practice, you’re more likely to use the right skills and techniques at the right time. And second, when you’re prepared, you’re confident. If you have some doubt about not feeling prepared, it may lead to a less-than-zone performance.

As part of your preparation, mental imagery (or visualization, as it’s often called) of performing at your best will help, too.

And this is just the start! But if you start here, in a deliberate way, you’ll get in the zone more often. And when you do, it becomes easier and easier to get back in the zone, just like an upward and positive spiral.

I’ve created and offer a few different resources to win the “mental game” of driving, from Mental Imagery Guide for Drivers eBook to the Inner Speed Secrets 201 eCourse and my Ultimate Speed Secrets book, and to past and future live webinars.

Finally, keep in mind that the zone is not an on-off switch. It’s a spectrum, where you can be anywhere along it, from “my performance sucked” to “I was in the zone and performing at my very peak.” So, even though you may not perform at your very best, you may not be very far from it. And trying to force being in the zone will never work. In fact, sometimes the best way of getting in the zone is to not try, not worry about, and to just let it happen. That is partly a state of mind, but also a mindset one needs.

NOTE: If you don’t want to wait for me to answer your question(s) here (which can take months, since I have so many!), you can always use my new SpeedSecrets.ai by signing up at SpeedSecrets.ai. The real beauty of using this app is that you can get out of your car after a session on track, and immediately ask it questions and get your answers, as well as what you should work on for the next on-track session. Since it’s “trained” only with my content, it really is like having me with you at the track.