Practice Day Routine for Optimal Improvement

Let’s say you had one year to get as good as possible, what is your practice day strategy? I am trying to develop a routine of testing and practice to optimize my seat time for the most improvement. Any tuning tools that are a must have? What do you look at or check during your practice session to optimize your practice days?

My preferred method of coaching usually consists of focusing on one key skill per coaching session. So we might just focus on braking or hand inputs for a few hours. Everyone is different and has a different weakness or strength.

Mainly, I think it is imperative that you go practice with a clear goal in mind. Turning laps for the sake of turning laps is fine in the beginning when you are just starting to get the driver comfortable with the kart and it’s limits, but eventually you are going to want to have a clear plan for your practice day.

This could be focusing on one aspect of driving or it could be testing out a set of chassis adjustments or it could be overtaking/racecraft.

There are so many facets to being a good driver, I think it’s necessary to focus on one or two of those per practice day.

The most important skills in terms of actual driving in my opinion would be:

  1. Racing line/apexes/reference points
  2. Braking
  3. Hand inputs

Here would be my big-picture approach in short- you want to maximize the intersection of repetition and variety.

Repetition in the sense that you want loads and loads of laps to develop targeted skills.

Variety from the standpoint of varying tracks, varying conditions (green track, rubbered track), etc…this point is especially important as it will help you break through the inevitable development plateaus.

If improving your driving is the goal, then tuning tools/strategy are less relevant. Get the kart of a reliable baseline, and focus on getting laps.

I agree 100% with the three skills TJ listed, as well as order of priority. You can accelerate your development by practicing these on track with other drivers (lead/follow), and bonus points if doing so in a coached environment with a highly skilled driver.


So you would go to a track day and just focus on ex. camber adjustments for a full session, and dial that in? Then next track day might be dialing in jet settings, etc.? I feel like my kart handling is competitive, but I don’t have anyone to help with dialing in my kart to my driving style. It feels like I am just making blind adjustments and checking my laptimes every session.

In terms of adjusting the kart, I mainly just am testing things on practice days, not necessarily trying to find the ideal setup because that will change anyway day-to-day. A bit pointless to find the ideal jetting setup or tire pressure for one specific practice day, because that’ll change the next time you’re out.

But one thing I suggest newer drivers do is run through the range of adjustments to start developing a feel for how the kart works with each adjustment so you can better be prepared on race day to make the call after each session. So for example, regardless of how the kart is handling, go full max width on the front and do a session to see how that feels. Then go full narrow the next session and note how that feels. That’ll not only teach you how a “good” handling kart is supposed to feel, but it will give you an indication on how to fix any handling issues you have based on how those chassis adjustments react.

I did a whole day last year or the year before testing ways to get the front end to be twitchier. Caster in with the front bar soft, caster out with the front bar stiff, widen the front, narrow the front, increase steering rate, change Ackermann, adjust camber… That was helpful for me to understand the nuance of getting the front end to work with different adjustments, and I was able to note how each adjustment affected the overall kart. So now when I come in from a session and feel some understeer, I know which of the front adjustments will solve the issue depending on where that understeer is happening.

Otherwise if you are just focusing on driving improvement, I echo Evan’s comment completely that you should just set the kart up at baseline and crank out laps. Sometimes my clients want to adjust the kart during a coaching session and I tell them not to because the goal isn’t to dial the kart in for a Friday practice. The goal is to learn how to drive it better.

Even easier if you’re rocking an OTK kart because baseline/neutral setup should be pretty dang close for most conditions.


Good advice. Do you analyze mychron data? I feel like being able to look at apex minimum speed trackside would be game changing, being able to see where you’re losing time and working on it just minutes later. But I don’t see many people doing that.

For sure. I do data with all my clients. At the club level here I would say 50% of people are doing data regularly. At regional/national level everyone is doing data every session.

I’m not able to speak from that sort of experience but it occurs to me that when you are almost fully developed the gains become incremental and maybe less technical?

Work on brain stuff? Find your @speedcraft maybe?

For karting specifically. What are the metrics you and the top guys are looking at? When I do data for sim racing I’m looking mainly at minimum apex speed and braking points. Is it the same?

Top of my list would be know exactly what curiosities and questions you want to answer before you go.

Whatever is top of your own list is what matters, so you go to the track on a mission to really find something out. One thing.

If there is something that bugs you that you think other drivers do, isolate that, do some research on it, then set out your practice sessions as experiments that will deliver the answer.

Data will help a lot to verify the answers.

After that practice day, you’ll have new questions naturally pop up that you’ll be driven to answer the same way…

That’s how I’d do it, because you’ll develop your own very robust empiric system that sets you up to always go faster.


For me when I was sim racing pretty competitively the gains would come from pushing the limit in each session. Braking .5m later, carrying 1-2 extra mph through a corner. To me that’s what separates good from great drivers in any circumstance.

The most basic and useful trace is the GPS speed trace for me. That’s 90% of what I look at. That’ll show you apex speeds, braking points and braking traces, and throttle input point. It’s quick and easy to see where time can be lost or gained. The other GPS acceleration channels can pinpoint these things more specifically too, but the speed trace is good for a quick overview.

There is a lot more the software can do, but I prefer to keep it simple and quick.

The real ultimate key skill among the best drivers in any discipline is understanding the limit of the tire and adapting to that limit through different corners, conditions, etc. Driving at the limit is one thing, but then understanding how to extract everything from the tire while in a racing situation where you might not have the best line or need to go defensive or something is another thing. If you understand how to develop that feeling of where the tire’s limit is, you’ll understand how deep you can brake before locking, how early you can get on power before sliding, and how much steering input you can put in without upsetting the kart.

This paragraph is what separates “great” drivers from “fast” drivers. I can run the same lap time as many people at my club, but there a few that pull off moves or passes while maintaining speed or without giving up ground and thats what makes you say, “wow”


Is that on RaceStudio? I’m very unfamiliar with the software so I need to start studying it up.

RaceStudio and RSAnalysis, yeah. Or whatever software goes with your gauge.

Perma-Noob perspective:

This is a practicable thing every day not just on the track. I’m no Verstappen but Warren is… and variations on his speed walking have brought me something useful.

Rebel Scum Road ain’t just a pretty place, it’s where I play with corner entry/exit/throttle/ relative to tire/loading in an imaginative way. Essentially extrapolating from the actions and playing out the results without completing it (revs cannot rise past a certain point).

Grip follows the same rules at low speed and I will play with under/oversteer when possible at low speeds as well, ie intentionally inducing understeer where I can safely do so.

I play with trajectory/line and pay attention to how if I change a thing such as exit line (pretend you are going round the outside) how it loads the tires and how I express throttle on exit, looking for the correct feel/balance/tempo.

It’s all feel. It’s also probably nonsense, but it also isn’t. It allows me to derive meaningful experience from driving a big heavy car pretty slow and informs my racing. Perhaps it’s all mental.

Also, general driving pretty much sucks so you may as well try to tap that vein for all it’s worth. :sunglasses:

For me it was more about focus and repetition. I found the limit to be so vague in iRacing. Despite my best efforts, tires felt pretty mute and incomplete.

That being said, chasing the leaderboards in kk was all about examining the sector and how I approach it and then trying to modify things to catch the ghost ahead. So basically what you said.