Dr. Phillip J. De Prez

Attitudes and Altitude

Hello and welcome to the next instalment in the Psychology of Racing series here at Total Karting Zero. Last time we talked about concentration and how it can make the difference between winning and losing.

In this article I want to follow on from that and continue the discussion focusing on winning. “So this will be a very short article then” you must be thinking – you race, you cross the line first, take the chequered flag and you win?

Well maybe that is strictly correct, but motorsport is a highly complex area and the concept of winning may be a lot more involved than just taking the flag first. For me, winning can encompass many different forms and if you as a young racer want to progress through the championships you would think that being the fastest and winning is the way to get to the top. Maybe, but also racers need many different skills as well as being fast, for example they need to be good team players, need to be good at social media and be a role model for any sponsors and supporters.

I read, hear and see many comments on how racers need to be aggressive or race ‘hard’ to be successful, I partly disagree with this approach and my view is that racers need to be competitive not aggressive.  As a Psychologist (and a racer) I always work on the principle of being evidence-based and yet I can find very little research that says to win you need to be aggressive, there is research however that maintains that aggression is a negative emotion and if that is accepted, then aggressive racing may actually be detrimental to winning.

Being competitive, though, to me means racing fairly, with respect for your fellow competitors and being gracious when not winning. It can mean racing with positive emotions and creating a positive atmosphere for you, your team and supporters that enhances your chance of winning (after all racing should be fun!).

A great example for me is the racing driver Max Coates who is always competitive but has a fantastic approach to racing. He builds a strong team around him and always keen to offer advice and help other racers. I noticed this post on LinkedIn on the 10th December and it does not surprise me at all.

So does attitude link to altitude? For me yes, the more positive the attitude the higher you may find yourself on the podium. Passing the flag first is one kind of winning, but remember, there are possibly more ways to be a winner than that.

Stay safe and enjoy your racing, Phill.

Phillip specialises in the Psychology of Human Performance with motorsport teams and individuals focusing on minimising error based behaviours, decision making and developing consistent successful behaviours. Along with his strong academic background, he has over 30 years experience of racing himself which he can use to help others reach their racing potential.

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