Your Mental Edge – Performance Thinking for Drivers

5 components to improving your mental performance for overall success in racing

As racing drivers, It’s evident that physical training is a big part of our preparation throughout the week to make sure we are in the best possible shape for race day. But the secret to getting the results you want requires much more than just physical skill building. We must also spend just as much time on our mental preparation and performance as we do with our physical. Combining the two creates a recipe for success. I truly believe that our mindset, and mental preparation is extremely important for being able execute our physical skills on race day. Mindset is everything when it comes to life, and our sport. When you can show up at the track with a confident and positive mindset, everything else will follow. This is why it is so important that we put just as much effort and emphasis on our mental preparation so that we can improve our on track performance.

For this blog I wanted to share with you some of the techniques that I feel have helped my most in getting my mind conditioned for race weekend. I firmly believe these practices are a game changer and will help you reach your peak performance!

  1. Visualization

Visualization is a great tool when mentally preparing for races. Visualization is when you call upon all of your senses to mentally imagine yourself in competition – in this case – driving your racecar.  Your mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Therefore you can use visualization to mentally prepare for each race by already experiencing the race in your mind. I love this because its a way of getting “seat time” without actually being in the seat. During visualization you are essentially priming your muscles for the race. So make sure your visualizations are all positive – seeing the race exactly how you want it to be executed. 

  1. Law of Attraction 

What you believe you will achieve, and what you put out, is what you will attract. Know what it is what you want, and have a clear vision of where it is you want to go. Just like in racing, you need to see where it is you want to go before you get there. You need to truly believe that you can achieve what it is you want. Truly believe in your talent and ability. Remember that our bodies work perfectly, it’s our minds that get in the way. Your thoughts become feelings. These feelings influence your behavior and your performance. Self belief mixed with the desire to succeed will help you reach your full potential. Your thoughts must be positive and productive to help you get the results you want. 

  1. Preparation 

You have to want it, and be willing to put in all the effort to get it. This includes creating a pre-race regimen that prepares you for the race ahead. Preparation is key. Make a race preparation plan and commit to your plan each and every day. My race preparation plan looks like this… For the days leading up to the race I: am on top of my fitness and nutrition, practicing on IRacing, watching in-car footage, watching past race footage, reading about the track, filling out pre race and post race debriefs, practicing visualization/meditation, and reading self development books.. 

It’s easy to make a plan. But it’s another to follow through with it. That’s why it’s so important to be disciplined with promises you make to yourself. Discipline breeds action. Action breeds confidence. Confidences breeds happiness and success. Belief and confidence in yourself is essential for performance. Having confidence in your ability as a driver to deliver your best is critical to the mind set that allows us to deliver our highest quality performance. 

  1. Execution > Results

“Results are simply the goals of our performance. When we are engaged in the performance, our focus needs to be directed on our execution – the specific actions and tasks that are directly relevant to the performance itself 

Focus on executing what it is you need to do in the race (ie. braking points, lifting point, lane choices, setting up passes, etc), rather than focusing on the outcome of the race (“ I need to finish in the top 5”). Your focus must on your actions in the car, being present, and in the moment. When you focus on winning alone, you are focused on the result. When you focus on executing, you are focus on your performance. When you focus on the task at hand, the results will take care of themselves. Performance > Outcome. Execution > Results.

  1. Turn losses into gains 

Racing is the ONE sport where a driver can go their entire career without ever feeling whats it’s like to win. Winning is great, but we don’t learn from winning. We learn from loosing. This is why putting your focus into getting better is much more important than winning. When you are focus on getting better, your performance improves, and increases your chances of winning. Evaluation of your performance is key in progressing your skills. Use every opportunity in the car as a chance to get better.


By Amber Balcaen