My five year old son has been driving for about 3 months now and we’ve made leaps as far as progress goes. We’re out getting seat time practically every weekend and he’s competed in 2 races. The main challenge so far has been identifying and driving the line as well as carrying his momentum through turns. I’m well aware it takes time and practice but I’d appreciate any tips or advice on ways to work with younger drivers in ways that they understand these things. Thanks in advance!
My boy is 7 now and I can honestly say that at 5 and 6 seat time was king. When he spun out or something went wrong I was always signal him in and ask him what happened, what did you do that may have caused that (usually because he got into the brakes to hard) but overall keep it light and fun. Have him follow someone who is good, that will get him in the habit of taking the right line. But really just really just let him make mistakes…
Do you have any tracks nearby that allow you to put out cones? If so, use them to show him the driving line. If they won’t allow cones will they at least allow you out on the track? If so, then help him through a corner by standing at the entry, exit, or apex and using hand signals to adjust his line.
Work on one corner at a time. He might not figure out the corner you are working on for months, but keep working on it. You might mention tips for the other corners, but help him master one corner. Never stop reminding him about the basics. In fact, just focus on the basics and keep drilling them into him. They are
- Maintain momentum through the corners
- start wide, hit the apex, finish wide
- small wheel movements
- should be mashing gas almost always in a kk except the smallest of turns
- did I mention maintain momentum
- no brakes
- look forward, don’t turn around
- maintain momentum
Video is very helpful. Especially if you can compare to the video of a fast driver with a good line.
Just focus on one turn at a time.
If he is showing good progress you might introduce linking turns together using early and late apexes.
I had so much fun developing my little driver and took him as far as I could before I had to turn him over to the pros. He knows infinitely more than I do now.
We were lucky to have a track that allowed us to use cones. I made up all kinds of drills to teach car control, racing lines, passing techniques, braking points and more. Just use your imagination for drills. The obvious one is to set up a cone for a braking point. Or just stand there for the braking point. Then keep moving closer to the corner. Keep doing that until he literally can’t make it and spins out, then adjust to find the optimum braking point.
Use a mychron and keep/ compare lap times from it.
Good stuff, thanks Jim! Willow springs is where we typically practice and we can walk out etc. I have one good turn in mind that’s nice and wide after a long straight. I’ll set up some cones, any ideas on conveying to him staying on the gas? He seems to get nervous and let off a little early.
Staying on the gas will come with time. You just need to keep reminding him. The braking drill I mentioned earlier will help with that. Stay on the gas until he gets to you, or a cone, then go through the corner. He’ll learn the worst thing that can happen is he spins out.
When we first starting using cones we’d stand them up like they are supposed to go. But then I started laying them down, with the pointy end being the side of the cone he should drive on. So you can lay out 6 or 8 cones through a corner and move them around to manipulate his line. He’ll visually know which side to go on if you lay them down like that.
If you are like the rest of us former kid kart dads, you’ll learn to make it fun. Reward “mashing gas” with candy, or vbucks, or whatever your kid is into. Shoot, I had to buy my kid about $40 in vbucks this past weekend for a bet I made with him about passing cars. He passed way more than I thought lol
Haha that’s awesome, I’m gonna try the candy thing! Funny thing is if I’m on the track with him or other karts he’ll chase hard, I’ve even had him tap me a couple of times. When he’s alone is when he’s all over the place.
Everything Jim said! I found video very useful just to help them recognize the engine note drop off if they were not maintaining momentum. After a while you would notice them hit the steering wheel after a little slide when they noted the revs drop.
I used these soccer discs instead of cones (https://www.amazon.com/Super-Outlet-Equipment-Fitness-Training/dp/B01NCWSO67?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_2 ) , less chance of disrupting the kart when they inevitably hit them, and they don’t seem to bother other karts on track at the same time as much.
Whatever you do, take your time… it will eventually all click with the little one and then your tuning skills will be the limiting factor
Would you happen to have a link to that video? Soccer discs are a good idea especially since I have a ton of them already from coaching his soccer.