Originally posted to the excellent Young Driver Development website, this article is from Simon Hayes, head of Performance Physixx. It is reprinted by permission. I have also asked Mr Hayes to explain a little bit of what services Performance Physixx offer. You can see the Performance Physixx listing on Motorsport Prospects here. Mark
When you work with younger drivers on their fitness and nutrition programmes there is a lot more to consider than one may immediately think. Firstly scheduling training sessions with a driver can be problematic in putting their education first if they are in School/University, which is ultimately crucial. But it is important for parents to know that you have their best interests at heart. The most important element of the ‘driver coaching’ relationship is TRUST.
I thought the best way to lay out this article about how the approach to working with younger drivers starting out in their motorsports career is to create a question and answer article that would illustrate a lot of the questions I have been asked both by young drivers and their parents over the years.
- How can I fit my training routine into my life when I have University and racing commitments along with sponsor searching, and family/home life? The answer is not an easy one, but the first thing I tend to look at and discuss is, is the current training you are following effective for what your intended race direction is, along with how is the weekly training schedule set up. Often the issue is the correct planning of the training and fitting this into the young drivers weekly schedule. This process should also include downtime.
- What are you doing to work on the mental side of your development and deal with external elements that impact your life? This is important as many young drivers are involved with partners who should be an important part of their racing. A boyfriend or girlfriend (partner) should in my view play an active role in working to motivate the young athlete. To develop self-discipline in helping to develop and determine a healthy and happy schedule for the young athlete, who has made an early commitment to aiming to be successful in an incredibly demanding career.
- What do you have at your disposal to carry out a training regime that we at Performance Physixx would write for you through our website platform? This is often not well understood by young drivers as the assumption is usually to go to a gym. I recommend working with what the young driver has at his/her disposal to perform training. A lot can be done with a training space at home and with the great outdoors for carrying out Cardio training. Understandably the environment and elements to a degree limit what can be achieved as training has to be ‘Specific’ to your individual race discipline. A good example is Mountain Biking seen here demonstrated by V8 Supercars Driver Simona De Silvestro.
- What role should Parents and Guardians play in a young athlete’s development? In my experience it is crucial to commence discussion involving the Parent or Legal Guardian principally as they are usually funding the athlete’s development, at the earliest of stages. To get them to appreciate the importance of not only physical conditioning from a health perspective, but correct and effective conditioning for the discipline of motorsports the young driver will engage in, somewhat for that Season of racing alone. Thus learning that changes in the athletes ‘Long term Conditioning plan’ for ultimate goals within motorsports as a career will be required as well.
- What about the nutrition side of the equation? This is most demanding particularly if you are working with families that have multiple youngsters sometimes in different endeavours. Eating habits vary along with ensuring that food allergies are strictly adhered to. So the most important aspect of this in my view is balance between making sure that they enjoy the food they eat along with the nutrition aspect for racing is crucially defined as a primary goal. This could be to alter body composition in a healthy way, which could mean working with Calorie targets for both weight reduction or gain. Both should be done in a healthy way. Also working with nutritional supplementation which should be carried out with consultation with individuals qualified in the nutrition field NOT with supplement companies or reading ‘Bodybuilding and fitness magazines’ whose role it is to sell these products.
- Drivers Managers? Often it is not only the Parents that you have to work with it is a Manager that the family have hired to represent the driver. As with all things there are good and bad fitness trainers and good and bad athlete managers. You have to deal with both, but the same rule applies to show the manager that what you bring to the table for the athlete will make them a more efficient racing driver. The way I approach this is through the Father or Mother that utilising a training system that fits within the young drivers lifestyle, gets results, and makes them healthier in the process.
- Getting a good relationship with other team members, especially ‘The Driver Coach’? Lastly I wanted to touch on how important the relationship between the Human Performance Coach and Driver Coach is since their disciplines to a great extent hold a crossover in the young driver’s performance. Sharing of data and training strategies are crucially important here and together formatting a plan that will deliver results for the Race driver and Race team. Another important element that is starting to play an impact on the physical side of things is ‘Race Simulators’ in my view if you can start the driver on this direction at an early stage more is the better.