If you are on your A Game during a whole weekend all is well and good, make sure you enjoy it and most importantly understand what conditions contributed to it because this is not always a regular occurrence.
Alternatively, you could have a weekend where you have struggled - you couldn’t find the right balance in free practice, you made a mistake on your first flying lap in qualifying and that affected your whole session, or your team mate for once was on his A Game and you felt under a lot of pressure. This is as likely to happen as a good weekend and this is where we need our B Game stepping up to the plate.
The best drivers in the world don’t always access their A Game but they are always able to access their B Game in the most challenging of situations (and this is where their confidence and self belief resides). In adversity, your B Game should be able to salvage the second row if you can’t make pole – this is fundamental to winning a championship.
But…. if you are unable to access your B game you can end up on the third or fourth row.
When drivers can’t access their B Game under pressure, they can completely lose focus on their Process and Method and this will lead to them either becoming cautious so as to stop making mistakes or they push harder and make even more. This whole process is driven by our Fight or Flight Instinct.
What can trigger us to lose focus on our B Game:
The competition being really strong
Making a mistake early on during free practice or qualifying
Track conditions changing - there is less or more grip
The balance of the car changes
Trying to impress your sponsors, team or family
Qualifying is either brought forward or delayed and it puts you outside your normal routine
You feel that your team are favouring another driver
You triggered track limits and felt hard done by
The car won’t start and you miss part of free practice or qualifying
So, how do you salvage a second row qualifying position in adversity?
Being mentally tough (Gritty) – how often do we hear that so and so or a team ground out a result?
Be mindful and be totally ruthless with yourself – stay focused on the task in hand no matter what!
Know that your skills and method are there – they have been practiced over and over again under pressure – you just need to adjust your focus and intention, not your technique – zero tolerance for guessing and trying.
Prepare mentally for anything that might happen – list your what if’s and use your visualisation skills to run through these scenarios as if they are really happening to you.
Use affirmations – confirm to yourself that you are ready for anything:
“Mistakes make me stronger”
“I am the best at adapting to new and unexpected situations”
“I love competition - the tougher the better”
Be aware of looking for perfection – it does not exist, mistakes and change are the only constants in our sport.
Remember - you have no god given right to your A or B Game, pole position, wins or a perfect weekend – you only get these things through hard work, grit and applying your skills.
Enjoy yourself - take pride in the fact that you are grinding this one out in a way that your competitors can’t.