Q: “Your ‘tips’ are very interesting but I cannot envision applying what I read to my hands and feet when I’m on the track at a later date. I enjoy reading what you say about driving, and I’ve participated in some of your webinars, which make me smarter about driving. But I have a hard time taking what you’ve told me to do and applying it – to actually get my hands and feet to do what I’m supposed to do. For example, I can easily envision my BoB point, but without actually being on the track it is impossible to envision my EoB point. Any advice? And can other drivers easily do this?”
A: If you’re asking whether drivers can imagine their BoB (Begin of Braking) and EoB (End of Braking) in their mind before being on the track, and then putting that “mental picture” into action on the track, then the answer is yes. Is it easy? It seems easier for some than others, but it’s like any skill – it takes practice.
I started using mental imagery/visualization in a very deliberate way when I was about 15 years old (for tennis), and would use it every single day. Since that time, I’ve used it for racing/driving almost daily – for the past 50 years. So, it’s relatively easy for me. But I don’t think I have a special gene in my DNA that makes it easy. I think it took a lot of practice.
I recommend to drivers that they gradually work away at improving their ability to visualize, just like they would in developing any other skill.
I have an eBook on how to use mental imagery for sale (for all of $2.99) on my website. Go to https://speedsecrets.com/product/mental-imagery-guide-for-drivers/ to get it.
Let me share a couple of quick stories to help illustrate how taking information, getting a clear mental picture of what it takes to physically do it, and then actually get the hands and feet to make it happen on track. Actually, they’re kinda the same story that repeated itself. At separate times I coached two different actors: Craig T. Nelson and Patrick Dempsey. In both cases, I noticed the same thing: I would tell them to do something, they would stop, almost close their eyes as you could see them “practicing” what I said to do in their mind, and then they’d go do it. It was as if they were rehearsing lines for a role they were playing, and then they just did it. Both were incredibly good at taking information and turning it into action. Were both of them born with a gene that made them actors? Who knows! But what I do know is they practice rehearsing for roles they were to play, and they were able to use that same skill as race drivers.
So, my advice, beyond what I’ve already said, is to take time to imagine in great detail what it is you want to do, such as looking into a corner for the EoB – really pre-playing it in your mind – before you ever go on the track. And do this as many times as you can. The more, the better.
I can tell you that the best race drivers in the world do this all the time. You might be surprised just how much time they spend mentally imaging something they want to change in their driving before they go on track.
I think that the best at this are also imparting some type of “memory” to their muscles, while doing the mental part of this exercise. Watch any F1 driver doing his imagery — his eyes are closed, but his head and body are swaying; hands and feet are working through the gears and turns. Unless I do some muscle-memory practice on the street, my heel-toe work goes really bad, LOL. My best place for doing mental imagery is at the wheel of a PS4 game, after all, because every type of corner you can think of is there for the practice in your mind.
PS — some answers are best to get from a fellow “struggler.” We need to get as much of the mechanical stuff into a muscle-memory situation as possible before hand (on the street or sim or kart track; or skid pad), so that once on track we can focus on those other sensory feelings particular to where we are now: seat-of-the-pants feel, sites and sounds, visuals, etc. Of course, this is neglecting all of the video we can watch before hand, and track maps. Yikes! None of this is the answer by itself, I guess.