A couple of questions (in the form of polls) about mental training

Hey racers, I’ve got a couple of questions about mental training (in the form of two polls).

The first is related to whether or not you do any type of mental training to improve your on-track performance. By mental training, I do not mean Sim training, I mean stuff that people might describe as:

  • Visualization
  • Imagery
  • Self-hypnosis
  • Remembering a race (or situation from a race)
  • Just ‘figuring s**t out’ to go faster
  • Etc.


  • 1 - Yes, I use some form of mental training.
  • 2 - No, I tried mental training, but didn’t see any benefit.
  • 3 - No, I have not tried mental training.
0 voters

For those of you who answered 1 or 2 above, which of the following best describes your experience when performing mental training?

  • A - It is ‘full sensory’; it’s like I’m looking at a photo of a turn, or viewing an onboard GoPro video, but also feeling all the associated loads & forces, and all of the sounds and smells.
  • B - It is mostly ‘visual’; like I’m looking at a photo of a turn, or viewing an onboard GoPro video.
  • C - It is some variation of ‘visual’; not like a photo or video, but more like I have some kind of internal symbolism, or estimation, or calculation, of what I know I saw, or would be seeing.
  • D - It is mostly ‘non-visual senses’ based; like I can feel all of the associated loads & forces from the memory, and all of the sounds and smells.
  • E - Both C & D.
0 voters

If you experience something that does not fit into any of the categories in Poll 2, I’d love to hear about it.

I do a lot of analytical thinking about my driving, the track, and kart physics, but it doesn’t sound like that qualifies as mental training, right?

I kind of get impression it does. I endlessly dissect my driving in video, which seems to qualify, I pretend drive in my car, imagining the outcome of various things that I do at normal speeds, extrapolating, which also seems to qualify,

I think his meaning is broad… thinking about it is mental training as opposed to pure do.

1 Like

My favorite form of race preparation: sitting in the sauna, and especially towards the end of a session, visualizing a lap of the circuit I’m preparing for. Regardless of the environment, this visualization is ALWAYS full sensory, with sound being the most critical IMO.

In a gearbox kart sound is an excellent cue for where you are on track, and where you’ll be going. Here’s an example excerpt from the visual and sensory “playback” I’m trying to feel:

Downshift two times before initiating corner entry, stretch 3rd gear before braking and rolling the next corner, staying 1ft off of curbing, conserving momentum and being careful not to let the throttle buck (imagine that light hop/buck feeling and managing it), use body to help (physically lean with head and upper body) with rotation for second phase of corner, sucking up as much curb as possible and creating a straight line towards the next left, stretching 3rd gear again before downshifting one gear aggressively upon entry (rotate head to eye up apex)…you get the idea.

Those downshift spikes to 16k revs are great audible cues, as are the memories of winding out the engine to 15k. Feeling the bumps in your mind is key as well. The more detail the better. Of course, it’s easier on a track where you have a thousand laps, but can be “programmed” at a new track by observing onboard video from another driver, and trying to recreate that in your mind, simulating some of the other senses (mostly feel).

The sauna is good, as you’re trying to do this under physical stress, simulating the actual driving environment to some degree. Does this make me a faster driver, @speedcraft ? :sweat_smile:


Good question! My way of think about this stuff is just one way of approaching it, but to me, if you are just kind of abstractly thinking about driving analytically, then that would definitely be ‘something’, but I’m not sure I would call it mental training to improve performance.

On the other hand, if you are doing your analytical thinking with ‘intent’ (e.g. I am feeling this on track… why?, or I’m not getting/feeling exactly what I want, so theoretically what could I do to change that?), then to me that would be mental training.

So I guess to me, one possible definition of ‘mental training’ might be: “Taking driving memories/experience, and mentally manipulating them (based other experiences and/or intellectual understanding about driving theory/physics/etc.) with the intent of creating (or prepare to create) different outcomes on track”.

1 Like

To be fair, im sort of a cross between a+b… I am feeling it but not necessarily hearing it. When I am walking with intent I feel the contact patches, paying attention to that in an abstract way sorta

You tell me! But I’m guessing yes. :grin:

100% this :arrow_up:
At one point in the mid 90s I came back from an 11 year ‘retirement’ to do a one-off Skip Barber FF race at a track I had never seen. I walked the track Friday morning, did a couple of practice sessions, then walked it again that evening; corner by corner I said "I think I can get 0.5 here by doing this, and 0.3 here by adjusting this, and so on around the track. Then I went to my hotel and ‘programmed’ the changes. By the end of the weekend I had 5th, 3rd & 2nd place finishes and was about 15/100ths off the lap record.

I can’t imagine not using imagery. :rofl:


I’m actually an “E”; My ‘imagery’ is actually ‘image free’; I really don’t ‘see’ anything… my seeing is almost like a running calculation of what I should be seeing, which is informed by my other senses (especially temporal, and vestibular).

1 Like

I learned pretty quick that I “do better” whenever I don’t really think or plan. Of course I’ll watch a video or do a track walk if it’s a course I am not familiar with, but once I can somewhat remember the corners and apex points, after that it’s all about feel and eventually turning it into muscle memory.

Racing in a fast crowd helps accelerate that process too because I’m able to say to myself “They have a motor and 4 wheels like I do, so if they can do it then I can do it too”. And at that point its like “Oooohh okay, so that’s what this corner is supposed to feel like. Let’s see if I can feel that again, or lets see what it feels like if I push harder here”


I do most of my mental training after the race with Busch Lattes saying things like “man, I really messed that corner up” or “I wish I would have listened to TJ’s tuning advice”


You put coffee in beer? Or do you just shake up the Busch and serve it warm?

I could see espresso shot in a Guinness… note to self.

1 Like

I gave up a long time ago on visual training for GoPros or whatever. I want data now, charts and telemetry :grin:

It is impossible for me to make the difference visually between a good and an excellent lap.

You have a partial point here. I get a ton of value and improvement with my lap times with mental/visual analysis, but once you get to that last tenth of difference between two different lines/changes it’s pretty impossible to know for sure without; a) data, or b) if you’re driving with the same group of people throughout the day and can note a different delta than before between the others and yourself at a given place on the track where you’re targeting improvement. (e.g., you’re gapping them now in a corner, whereas before they were even, or vice-versa)

But yeah, if you’re just turning laps by yourself, then it eventually gets harder and harder to quantify the impact of changes without data.

1 Like

I don’t visualize in the traditional way. If I’m running at track that I’ve never been to; I use YouTube and find one that is about the racing line. From the video, I generally take 3 snapshots of each turn, entry, mid and exit and make a PowerPoint slide deck with these snapshots. Then I add notes and landmarks such as turn-in point, apex and track out point. I’ll flip through the slide deck whenever I can. When I try to visualize, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, as it is not continuous but once on the track, I instantly recognize the “landmarks” and image of track starts flowing. Once I have my in-car video, I start replacing the YouTube shots with one’s from my car and add or revise notes to the slide deck.

Maybe visualization is not as necessary today as it was 20 or 30 years ago with advent of the compact and cheap video cameras.