Putting it all together

You train hard and practice as much as you can, you are fast and consistent hardly ever making a mistake untill it comes to the big race and everything tightens up, you don't flow as well as you did in practice, you make silly mistakes and you just can't nail the holeshot like you do when pracitising.

So what is going on?
Why can't you take it to the races?

Here are 3 tips to help your mental approach at the big races match your skills at the practice track and bring you the results you are capable of.

Tip 1
Change how you think. Your brain will either work against you or for
you. You must remove any thoughts about big events as being important. You need to show up and believe that it is just a “typical” day of riding with only a few more riders. Do not assign any importance to the event. This will only create a sense of panic. Think about it as just another day where you get to ride and learn. Every day you practice and every gate drop is a learning experience and nothing more. Leave all the thoughts of having to perform and proving yourself behind. You should only focus on the track. Decide where your fastest sections are, where will you set up your passes, what gate would you like and how best to tackle any jumps. That’s it. Never think that you have to prove something and never think about your competition. That is only wasted energy.

Tip 2
Monitor your breathing. Regulating your breathing can help you stay
relaxed. It will help to keep your heart rate lower and help protect youagainst adrenaline dump from being overly anxious. Breathing is often overlooked because it is something that we have done since birth. However, our breathing patterns change when we feel overly anxious. This is a built in mechanism left over from caveman days when we needed to escape from threats. If we encountered a dangerous animal we needed that extra adrenaline to keep us safe. It’s called the fight or flight response. Deep slow breaths filling your lower diaphragm is best to stay relaxed. Breathe in as much as you can through your nose, filling your lower chest cavity. Hold for a second and exhale out through your mouth. Repeat three to five times and you will notice almost an instant change in your emotional state.

Tip 3
Get as many gate drops as possible before big events. Go to smaller
races and get in some seat time. Training for months at a time without
any gate drops before the big race can put you at a disadvantage. Going to the smaller events can give you a chance to practice your new skills of thinking differently and practice your breathing. When you show up at Mini O’s or Loretta’s you will have a great advantage over the other riders. You will ride more naturally and without anxiety. You will treat it as just another day of training where you are learning. Before you know it you will find yourself on the podium and on your way to reaching your goals.

Tim Laskis/Howard Marriott