You’ve heard of Medusa right? – the monster of Greek Myth who was so frightening and horrific, that looking into her eyes would fill a warrior with such dread and terror, that he would immediately turn to stone!
They say Medusa represents the terrifying chaos of nature – and the warriors being turned to stone bit is like how we are all programmed by evolution to freeze when we face a deadly predator.
I mean we’ve all had experience of that – being scared suddenly and freezing automatically, like something has taken us over and commanded us to be perfectly still until the danger has passed. It makes perfect sense that when humans were potential dinner hunted by big bad carnivores, the best strategy was to freeze and hope we don’t get noticed when a blinking great sabre-tooth tiger shows up.
And this primitive programming operates at full strength – ESPECIALLY during kart race starts!
The start of a kart race is about as close as a modern human gets to being hunted in the wild! There are big scary predators out to get you, and nobody has a clue what is going on – it is a sensory overload situation and totally unpredictable.
And what does a human do instinctively when faced by so many threats that it can’t escape from? It freezes so that the big bad predator doesn’t notice them, and it hopes that once the danger passes by it can quietly escape without being harmed.
This is how so many drivers react to the start of a race, they freeze and try not to do anything that will get them noticed – their priority is survival and without even having a chance to resist, they back out, go wide and let other drivers by.
If you act like this, you are behaving just like an animal that is being hunted, trying to escape, to survive – meek and frightened. You won’t be able to avoid behaving this way because it is a very powerful instinctive survival reaction – it has kept the species alive in a very dangerous world – BUT it doesn’t help you win kart races.
If this freeze reaction is unavoidable, how do you get rid of it?
You can switch off the freeze reaction by changing the way you perceive the situation from being hunted ready to freeze, to being the predator yourself.
It comes down to a very simple choice:
“Am I going to be the PREY, or am I going to be the PREDATOR?”
The answer is obvious – we all want to be the predator – but what does that mean practically? It means you have to think like a predator and stop thinking like the prey!
Thinking like the prey
- Hope that nothing bad happens to you
- Be ready to steer clear of crashes
- Be on red alert for danger, ready to avoid problems
- Safe survival is the priority
Thinking like a predator
- Go to the grid with an exact plan of how you will OWN the start
- When the race starts make your move first
- Be the actor, not the reactor
- Be on red alert to take advantage of chaos and pounce on the mistakes of others
Can you see how the predator and prey have completely different mindsets?
When you are in the prey mindset your brain is ready to freeze you.
When you are in the predator mindset, your brain is in a completely different mode – you are not going to freeze because YOU are the dangerous predator!
So before your next race start, ask yourself “Am I the prey, or am I the predator”. With a little bit of preparation before you start you can march to the grid as a predator, leave the prey mentality for the other drivers.