How to focus when at the track

Split from a discussion about struggling in practice to match race times… created a new home for the ADD/ADHD part of the topic.

While the difference is dramatic it could be a symptom of something like ADHD rather than set up which would see a less dramatic difference.

The research is flakey and contradictory so what I say shouldn’t be taken as sure-fire fact, but there is some evidence to suggest that certain types of people require a high level of stimulation to function properly, Particularly those diagnosed with ADHD (though obvious diagnosis is not an exact science and definitions change over time).

So it could be a pure neuro-chemical response to low-motivation during practise sessions, and the added intensity and purposefulness of a race means you are more stimulated and thus function better as your brain reacts in a more conventional way.

I have exactly the same issue and it’s very hard to cope with because at the surface level you aren’t doing anything different. You are braking turning and accelerating. I would recommend looking up symptoms of conditions like ADHD and see if you share some of them.


My son is add. So am I, probably. What is interesting is that add can lead to hyper-focus with stuff that fully engages you. A race fully engages, maybe practice doesn’t so much. Maybe you are so used to turning laps that you sort of aren’t fully there.
So it’s possible, I suppose. There’s more likely some other explanation like in a race, things matter more. You might be driving a lot less aggressively and taking less chances and being more efficient and therefore faster.
Who knows. I’d try to identify what you are doing differently in competition as opposed to practice. Maybe you are over-driving in practice. I sure do!


if this is a persistent problem, then I think the ADHD explains a lot. The key I would hazard a guess at is to try and introduce some hyper stimulative properties to your practice days. Whether that be particular music or pretty much anything to break up the day. As you will know boredom is the worst thing to have. Sometime it’s better to do things differently to everyone else.

I know what it’s like to be slow in practise, and even the heats, and then come the final your bang on the pace. I had the problem for many many years until I started delving into various conditions and discovering where the possible roots of this problem were.

I can’t even read a book in the same place more than a few times or write in the same place. Need constant noises, movement, change of environment.

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@Alan_Dove thank you for that. Music in my helmet or during the day? What else can I do to avoid this problem besides not practice?(which I want to practice) Can this problem be contained? Thank you for your time.

(I am no doctor, so can’t guarantee my suggestions will work for you, but i think it’s worth a try as you have been diagnosed with ADHD)

I think experimenting with various stimulatory devices is worth doing. So yeah, listening to some music before you go out, or having a speaker at your set up. All things worth trying. Having very specific goals for your practice sessions might help to give them more purpose and urgency. I find aimless practice boring. It’s why I’ve always preferred oldskool multi-manufacturer racing. You’ve always got carbs to try and different engines where ultimate lap time is somewhat secondary to the purpose. Try wacky asymmetrical set ups, do anything to keep your brain stimulated.

And it’s by no means a bad thing because history is full of drivers who suddenly turn up on Sunday, so don’t get too down about it. Fundamentally I’d aim to make practice just more interesting and then go from there. Not everyone can just smash the laps in on practice days.

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Thank you sir! Will do!

Not to be that guy but have you tried medication?
For some makes a huge difference. Theresthe stimulants like focalin/Ritalin and then there’s non-stimulants like strattera.

No I have not, but I will see my doctor about it soon.

Be aware that the stimulants, while effective, are pretty exhausting. Also a major appetite suppressant. There are trade offs. If it works for you, great, but go into it eyes open. These are mild dosages of amphetamines, after all.

I have mild ADD too, so what I find that helps me when I race to have a pre-race ritual that helps me focus on following the same steps every time I get into the kart, and get out of it.

It helps to calm my brain down, because I know that’s done everything possible to be successful before I jump into the race.

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@DavinRS What is the routine if I may ask? How did you make your routine? Thank you for the help. @Bimodal_Rocket Thank you for the information. I will keep that in mind.

Yeah, no problem.
It doesn’t really matter the specifics of your routine. The idea is to create a repeatable, consistent pattern that’s gives your brain a mental trigger that says “Oh yeah, we are about to do that thing now.”

When I’m karting, my routine is to:

  1. Check all four corners of my go kart to make sure wheels/hub are on and tight. (Makes me less worried about safety.)

  2. Give myself a moment to sit in the kart on the pregrid, which means proper time to warm the kart up.

  3. Have a moment of some positive self-talk, before I roll out on the track.

I know that I can’t control much what the other drivers are doing, so I focus my attention on focusing on what I’m doing, since I have much more control over that.

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@DavinRS thank you for that. I will try that in the future.

No problem. I wrote about in an article about seven years ago or so. I’ll pull the section out of it, so you don’t have to read the whole thing.

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