Q: “Can you recommend some resources on retaining focus in endurance racing? I have qualified well in our races so far, but for all three of them, I broke concentration when an external event happened like a lapped car hitting me or an equipment problem. My mind stays focused on that event, and worse case, starts formulating what to say about it. Then I blow the next corner that I never have problems with. In a sim race, I blew a corner by completely missing the brake markers and going straight. On the real-world track, I sometimes shout out the corner instructions in the car to refocus. Maybe that would work in the sim. Thanks for any advice or resources on this.”
A: Here’s how I look at focus: You don’t lose your focus any more than Lewis Hamilton, or anyone else, does; the difference is in how quickly you regain it. The best drivers regain focus so fast that it seems as though they never lose it. But they’re human, just like you and me. That’s why shouting out corner instructions to refocus works.
And so does having a Pre-Planned Thought (a PPT) – a trigger word or phrase that you always use to help you regain focus quickly. Rather than waiting until you lose focus, then thinking about what you’re going to say to refocus (that takes too much time at the speed we’re traveling on the track, whether digital or real), or shouting out the next corner instruction, create a trigger right now and use it all the time. The more you use it, the quicker you get at using it, and refocusing.
For example, you could use “Eyes up – look ahead.” Or “Smooth hands.” Or (my trigger) “Car dancing.” All of these bring you back into the moment, and focuses you on what you need to do right now. Again, the more you use this trigger, the better you get at using it – so use it in everyday life. If someone cuts you off in traffic, “Eyes up – look ahead.” If something you read or see in the news makes you mad, “Eyes up – look ahead.” Etc.
Practicing regaining your focus is no different from practicing trail braking – the more you practice in a deliberate way, the better you get. The great thing about using a simulator is you can practice this over and over again, many, many times.