Q: How do you deal with the frustration after having a bad race? How can we deal with that energy to put it somewhere positive? Your mental imagery course was great for before and during the race, but I just don’t know how to deal with those tough results! In the race itself I’ve been able to deal with the situation and put in some good laps to do the best I can, but it’s so frustrating knowing that I could’ve been so much higher up the order had someone not tried to make (for example) a dangerous move beyond the limits of their tires and grip.” 

A: As I always remind drivers, we do what we do because we’re mentally programmed (we have a habit) to do so; we sometimes don’t do what we want because we don’t have the right programming yet. And every mental program is triggered by an “icon,” just like with software. So, if you program focusing on what you learned from a bad race (using mentally imagery), imagining how you’ve now become a better driver, then you’ll have a program to manage the frustration. To manage it, you need that trigger, and a specific word or phrase is best. For example, if you used mentally imagery to see yourself after a “bad” race realizing how much you learned, and how you’re now a better driver because of it – and you kept saying “I’m learning – I’m now a better driver” while doing it – you will have built the mental program to manage yourself.

The other thing is to focus on your performance, rather than the result. Can you control the results of a race? No, you can’t, because you can’t control your competition (as you pointed out!). The only thing you can control is your own performance. So, during and after the race, focus on how you performed. If you drove fantastic, but got taken out by a competitor, you can at least be happy with your own performance. That doesn’t mean being satisfied with the result, but it’s better than being bummed out about a bad result.

One thing you might want to do is rate your own performance on a scale of 1 to 10 after every race. Again, focus on your performance – how you felt you drove – and not on the result. If you rated your performance at a 9, for example, but you didn’t get a good result because of what another driver did, or your car didn’t perform well (the handling setup was not right), that helps you manage your frustration better.

Keep learning and having fun.