Top 5 Sports That Will Make You A Better Driver (Competitor).

 

 

As a driver you will be into all kinds of other sports that keep you fit and sharp but as mentioned in a previous blog (£20,000,000 to become the best) it is virtually impossible for drivers to get their 10,000 hours of training behind the wheel.

 

In short race drivers spend less than 100 quality hours per year in their cars, compare that to athletes of other sports who would only take 3 weeks to achieve that many hours within their training and competing.

 

Drivers are way behind the game compared to other sportsmen due to cost and test bans, and as a consequence are competing underneath their true potential. Can you imagine how good you would be if you could race or test virtually every day?

 

Instead of bitching about the situation let’s look at ways of bridging that gap, ways you can practice the skills needed to become the best you can be as a driver through other sports.

 

There are plenty of sports that can make you fit, lean and challenge your mind but I want to highlight some of the best ones that are very applicable to racing.

 

The sports that share the skills you need to race well and become a mentally tough competitor.

 

The Top 5

I have spent many years organising sports for drivers who need to work on certain parts of their mental and physical games and these 5 activities have hit the spot most of the times.

 

I have also been speaking with drivers to ask them what helped them most. A combination of these have led me to this top 5.

 

I look for sports have the following attributes:

  • Mental training under fire

  • Decision making with ‘painful’ consequences attached

  • Sports that require mental flow and subconscious training

  • Applicable muscle groups to ones you need

  • Cardio

  • Stressful environments

 

Do not get upset if the sport you believe in is not mentioned because all sports will provide applicable training for your driving but these seem to be the most effective ones that I have used with drivers.

 

WARNING – Some of these sports are dangerous so please read this as opinion orientated only. You can seriously injure yourself in some of these sports and may have a contract that forbids you to take part in them. So use your head here.

 

Here they are…..

 

 

No. 5

Squash

 

 

 

This is a great all round sport and one of the cheapest of the 5 to take part in.

 

If you play against someone who is slightly better than you then you can use it for training your mind and body. Squash demands that you think on your feet, act quickly and accordingly, never give up on a ball and learn how to read ball direction (future telling).

 

Oh and it kills you physically so you often have to keep focused as you struggle to even see the ball through the sweat in your eyes.

 

It can be infuriating when you do not make the shot, I have played many drivers who end up smashing their racquet against the wall in anger over such a simple task.

 

3 Main Applicable Training Points

 

1) Anger / stress control – Keeping calm when you are on a losing streak, still staying focused and mentally stable when making mistakes.

 

2) Short burst fitness – It is very stop and go, you learn how to switch on and off constantly and how to keep a rhythm when the game tries to not let that happen.

 

3) Never give up – No matter what the score is you can always come back and in doing so you can mentally defeat your opponent and the momentum swings your way. Showing the brain this on a consistent basis can help you in tough race weekends.

 

 

 

 

No. 4

Motocross / Quading

 

 

 

Now this is a risky one and a more expensive sport but boy it really does install qualities that will help you compete better.

 

It is aggressive in every way, it literally beats you up but raises the bar for what you expect from yourself.

 

If you meet with a good rider you will notice that they share certain qualities that would make them very good drivers. They fear very little and each lap they are making decisive actions and adjustments depending on what the surface and machine is telling them. Something that you also need to do in car.

 

They have to plan ahead which is also vital for driving a quick lap. Oh and it is great for your forearm's muscle endurance, as well as shoulders, heck its good for every muscle due to you trying to hang on to the damn thing.

 

3 Main Applicable Training Points

 

1) Raises your fear bar – Too many driver let apprehension in whilst driving, we all need it to keep us safe but when it comes to street circuits and tricky conditions 90% of the drivers do not dance with the car. This sport teach the mind how to dance and trust the knife edge.

 

2) Constantly adjusting yourself – Things change every lap with the surface and your positioning so you need to think on the go, you need to try different things and problem solve whilst you have another biker breathing down your neck.

 

3) Great for aggressively working the muscles – You will gain huge strength through ‘shock training’, where the muscle is activating and reacting all the time. Just make sure you warm up and down correctly and have plenty of massage.

 

 

 

 

No. 3

Surfing

 

 

 

You may link surfing to the ganja smoking beach bum but in reality this is a pastime that can help race drivers a lot.

 

There is nothing quite like grabbing your board and hitting the ocean. You are met straight away with the first challenge, getting out there. As you walk into the sea the waves are already hitting you back, you have to fight even to get to the start point. This is great for working your upper body and core.

 

The physical training that surfers partake in is very core based which is similar to race drivers. They also have to control their breathing as they keep going under the water and have power spurts.

 

Once out waiting for a wave you are in rest mode but are poised for attack, then the judgment of when to go and to switch on your attack is vital to catch a wave.

 

Once on the wave you need to have the balance and foresight to keep on the wave. Then you do it all again.

 

It is a combination of physical training, tranquillity and mayhem. A lot of emotions and situations are experienced and in the end you are left feeling beat yet invigorated. In difficult conditions this can be a sport where you can face more than you think you can cope with yet you somehow get through it….hopefully.

 

3 Main Applicable Training Points

 

1) Perspective changing – You feel completely worn out and the waves keep on coming, they are relentless and you are really taking on Mother Nature, when you face her it can become a great challenge that changes your perspective and makes driving seem a doddle when things are not going to plan.

 

2) Keeping your cool – It is testing when you keep falling off and then have to get up and give it another go immediately.

 

3) Perform on demand – You get used to switching on and off, you see the right kind of wave and you must act there and then. If not then you also get to train what it’s like to look stupid in front of all the other surfers, double training.

 

 

 

 

No. 2

Downhill and Cross Country Mountain Biking

 

 

 

Another one that dices with injury but hey you are racing driver, you are supposed to be this dare devil creature who plays with death.

 

Mountain biking is a great all-rounder, it teaches you how to dig deep mentally and physically and how to work with your self-preservation.

 

You can really see a driver’s personality when they are on a mountain bike trail, you can see which ones think too much, which ones are lazy, which ones give up easy and how they act in tough environments.

 

After speaking with the super fast driver Stefan Hodgetts about this sport (he actually does downhill race events) he was telling me of the skills that both mountain biking and racing share.

 

Due to his driving personality it is easy to forecast what Stefan is like on a bike, you know he will be on the edge, will enjoy figuring out the fastest way to take a part of the run / obstacle and will give it his all even if the wheel is hanging off. That’s what he’s all about and mountain biking allows him to do all those things and allows him to keep growing that side of him when he cannot be in the race car.

 

We have only mentioned the mental and personality benefits so far here but it goes without saying that this sport also helps you physically, your whole body gets a workout plus you improve your balancing skills which is something that drivers forget to train.

 

3 Main Applicable Training Points

 

1) Looking ahead – You need to constantly shift your focus further ahead on the go. In the car many drivers look too close to the nose and forget about the importance of looking up, it creates erratic and inaccurate driving, same on the bike. By looking to close to where you are you become frantic, you cannot see the best route and you look at things that will distract you. Biking teaches you NOT to do that.

 

2) Quick out of the box – When doing downhill with a number plate on your bike you just have to go for it, the clock is ticking and you do not let up until you cross the line, this type of training is ideal for you because you learn the need to switch on and go.

 

3) Decisiveness with consequence attached – Many things that drivers train with do not have consequence attached to their decisions, well this and some of the other sports mentioned do and this gives you a realistic training platform that will help you with your racing.

 

 

 

 

No. 1 

Martial Arts

 

 

 

This is a great one, again can be painful but can revolutionise your driving and more importantly your character.

 

There are a number of Martial Arts and fighting disciplines out there and it’s a personal choice for which one your choose but essentially they all teach you unrivalled lessons about yourself and allow you to truly push yourself.

 

I chose to take up JKD (Jeet Kune Do) which is the art that Bruce Lee created. I followed this discipline because I fell in love with its philosophy and its brutal effectiveness. 

 

It’s brutal because of its street fighting nature where you fight to the death but its foundations are based on you as a person. It is a hybrid martial art made up from many of the other arts out there which is how I view mental training so it talks my language. It is all about taking the best techniques from other disciplines and applying what personally works for you.

 

When fighting you have to answer many challenges that are similar to the ones that drivers face, you have to deal with attacks from others, to defend, to adjust your approach, to stay calm under fire, to instantaniously take opportunities, to read situations, to come back from taking a hit….and the list goes on.
 

Fighting seems to be the one sport that can help you no matter what you do in life. Being resourceful in a hostile environment is a skill that will serve you anywhere.

 

The skill of staying focussed when you have just taken a blow to the nose and then the next hit is on it’s way is something that asks more of you as a human being. If you are a fan of the film called Fight Club then you will have heard at what fighting teaches you, how it makes you feel when you realise that you are not made of glass and how things seem less threatening around you.

 

If you are able to fight well and on a regular basis then you will get a certain power that most drivers are missing nowadays. You will have the Warrior Spirit that will help you get through tough situations both on and off track. You will find it easier to remain calm and your pain threshold will be much higher.

 

It also gives you oneness with your mind and body, you get to use your body as a tool and fully understand how to bridge the gap between mental and physical.

 

This for me is and always will be the No.1 self development sport., you finally get to meet your true self when fighting.

 

3 Main Applicable Training Points

 

1) Training and trusting your subconscious – You need to act and react with little thought, to make the correct decisions without logically processing what is happening.

 

2) Keeping focus – Again when being hit and making incorrect moves you need to get back into the flow otherwise you will face serious consequences.

 

3) Meeting and being with the real you – When you are being hit upon and cornered you are totally alone, it is all down to you to find the solution and to resolve things. You learn a lot about yourself when you have nowhere to escape. This is trained often when fighting and helps you become resourceful whilst others around you are losing their heads.

 

 

 

Most sports can help you

Other great sports such as Skiing, Tennis, Cycling, Rock Climbing, Swimming, Golf, Water Polo, Football and even Chess (for its calm under mental pressure training) can help you in some way if you design your sessions with a goal in mind but the 5 I mentioned will naturally help you improve in ways that will leak into your racing.

 

I hope this has inspired some thoughts in some way and given you a few ideas of how to get more from your template training regimes.

 

 

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