Mental Preparation for Motor Racing

Sports Psychology Tips: Mental Preparation for Motor Racing

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Do you talk yourself out of winning races?

When you return back to racing it’s important to spend some time and think about your attitude towards returning.  It’s likely a large absence will have impacted on some important factors related with your Mental Toughness.

  • Whether you view your first race as a challenge.
  • Whether you choose to play it safe or take risks.
  • Your confidence levels may be impacted too, some racers will be worried about racing whereas others may bulls##t themselves into thinking they are going to win the race.  
  • You might be someone who is hugely pumped up for the first race and struggles to calm yourself down.
  • You might be worried about a rival or rivals getting one up on you.
  • You may even be dreading the craziness at the start of the race.

One thing to recognise is, if you choose to – you have the ability to take CONTROL of your MINDSET about your return to racing.

An enforced break because of COVID restrictions, last years shortened season and the fact it has been the off-season I’d guess has been hugely frustrating for some riders and racers.  You may have even been asking yourself a few questions over the winter because of fear of the unknown and the uncertainty. 

“What will my first race look like?” “How will I get back to where I was?” “What if my rivals come back stronger than me?” or “Will my injury hold up this season?”

I Love Racing

For many motor racers, getting the motorcycle or motocross bike out and racing is a huge part of their identity.  It gives them so much.  The buzz, the anticipation, the excitement, the fear…  they love it.  When they haven’t been able to do it, many have struggled and found it tough.

So here’s a question for you, how do you view your return to racing?  Are you excited or worried?

As with many sports, motorsport is hugely mental possibly up to 90% I’d argue.  The physical side is demanding agreed, the bike or car is hugely important and the degree of mental toughness also comes into play, and shouldn’t be left to chance.

Injuries, crashes, failures, changing conditions, personal battles with rivals, pressure packed races and testosterone fuelled starts all spring to mind as mental challenges in motor sport.  

How can I mentally prepare for my first race back?

Step 1: If you are fearful, for whatever reason, acknowledging the fear is vital if you are going to be successful. 

How do I do that I hear you ask!

Try asking yourself the following 5 questions or statements and making a note of the answers.

  1. How do I NOT want to race?
  2. My biggest fear about racing is?
  3. The reason I am fearful is?
  4. When I think about racing my first thought is?
  5. I do NOT want to race like ….. because it will make me feel …..

Step 2: Now for the more positive side.  Again here are 5 questions or statements for you to ponder and make some notes too.  This time we are looking for you to take CONTROL of your situation and mindset.

  1. The way I want to feel about racing is ……
  2. If I felt this way about racing it would impact my racing in these ways?
  3. If I made that happen in racing my life would be …..
  4. The leaders in the championship and winners of races …..
  5. To gain success I must …..

Step 3: Have you heard of visualisation?  

As things happen so quickly, in the blink of an eye visualisation is a powerful way to prepare your mind for racing.  It allows you to clear your mind for practice and race days. Using visualisation you can:

  • Address those fears that you examined earlier.  
  • You can see yourself struggling and work out strategies to get back on track.
  • You can park any fears and see yourself racing at your best, with a clear head.
  • You can imagine yourself in control of your emotions, bike and car being calm under severe pressure.

I could have listed many more things that visualisation can help you with – I encourage you to give it a go.  It’s an amazing tool that we all have in our toolkit and can be improved with practice.  It is also something which often gives motor racers and riders an edge on their rivals.

If you’d like to learn more about this or if you would like to chat to me about putting together some personalised audios to support you I’d love to help.

Alternatively, if you enjoyed this blog offering Sport Psychology advice in Motor Sport be sure to sign up to “The Mental Edge”  for regular updates.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team-mates, parents or coaches.  You can also join our online community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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