Wiggle Your Fingers for a Faster Lap
The text for this post came from the Blayze coaching newsletter. This would have been good advice when I went through helicopter pilot training waaaaaay back in the 70's!!
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1. Wiggle Those Fingers For Laptime
We have all heard not to death grip the wheel and we know that when we're relaxed we're fast. But, why is death gripping the wheel so bad? How can we tell if we're relaxed enough? This week's topic was inspired by a Blayze member that sent me an email after their race last weekend. With their permission, I'm sharing their email here: "I don’t race until 3:00 so I managed to spend six hours getting myself all pumped up to really get after it in the race and take no prisoners. I’m sitting in grid and I check my heart rate and it's 105 and I'm just sitting there! So I close my eyes, start square breathing, and I subconsciously start wiggling my fingers on the back side of the steering wheel. In five minutes I’m down to 90 bpm and I feel totally relaxed. (Thanks to my Blayze coach) The start of the race was good. On about lap 3, I realize my hands, forearms, and shoulders were rock solid cause I’m grabbing the wheel like I’m trying to choke it to death! I spend the next three laps breathing and wiggling my fingers. Now I know this next part is subconscious to you pros, but I had a race car driving epiphany that will forever change me as a driver… The lighter I held the wheel the more feel I had with what the car was doing. I could feel the load the front tires were under, I could feel the overall grip, and I could tell I could push them harder. Five more laps and I was going through Riverside 4-5 mph faster, on throttle 50’ sooner everywhere, and braking just a tad deeper. On my last lap, lap 25, I broke the track record in my class by 1.3 seconds! I’m a different driver today than I was on Friday!" Now that's the type of email that makes my Monday morning! What I loved most about this email is that this driver built in their own anchor for being relaxed. On our Tuesday night Blayze member calls we talk a lot about the mental side of the sport, and anchor "words" to find the zone or using your breath to find the zone. What I had never thought about was an "anchor action" to remind yourself to relax. Wiggling your fingers forces your hands, forearms, and eventually shoulders to relax. It's also something you can build into your routine on the sim, driving on the streets, or even visualizing. Next time you're on track, check in with your arms. Are they relaxed? If not, you're most definitely losing lap time. We want a relaxed upper body and an engaged core so we can feel the vehicle below us.