One of the best things you can get from coaching as a racing driver is faster progress. Having someone to guide you and teach you what they already know can fast track you to success.
Remember that success does not necessarily mean a race win. It could be improving on your personal best lap time or even overcoming some of your fears such as race starts or overtaking opponents or even the wet weather.
The biggest benefit of a coach is learning from someone else’s experience. Having coached kids from the age of 7 all the way up to drivers who are 30 years of age. Some of them are newcomers to the sport having only been in it for a few months, others have been racing for 2-3 years. They are all trying to tap into my 25 years of experience and knowledge.
Whether it is race craft, driving technique or set ups, they can gain access to the information that I have put my blood, sweat and tears into and have learnt from many mistakes over the years. Doing this will help them to fast track their own journey in karting.
You don’t always need to learn off the good experiences. Learning from other people’s bad experiences can be just as helpful. Whether it is using the wrong tyrepressure or the wrong sprocket for a specific circuit, it can help you to save time and avoid starting in the wrong place.
Another benefit of having a coach is that sometimes people will listen more to an external figure rather than their parents or people closer to them. I had a close relationship with my dad who has his own experience in motorsport. However, I would pay closer attention to my cousin’s advice even though they delivered the same message.
I once coached Jack Doohan, son of 5-time MotoGP champion Mick Doohan. Jack wasn’t listening to his father who has won 5 world championships; however, he paid much closer attention to an external figure. I was just passing on a similar message to his dad, but who listens to their dads!
A coach can also identify positives and weaknesses while you’re out on track. If you’re racing by yourself, you can analyseother drivers while you are on track by driving behind them and you can get an idea of where you are gaining and losing time, but this skill develops with experience.
If you’re a newcomer and you go to the track by yourself, sometimes you can’t see what is happening around the track. Perhaps you are braking too early or defending too much, and this is where a coach can be a huge benefit.
Being able to get that feedback from your support figure who can identify where you are faster than your competitors and where you are losing out will help you to improve overall. Passing this message on after a session can help you to pinpoint the areas where you are weaker than the competition.
Having a coach does come as an extra expense. However, if you are spending $10,000 plus on a karting season and travelling while taking time off from school and work then spending extra money to make the most of your investment is money well spent.
If you feel like you’re stuck in a plateau, it might be worthwhile to look for that external support figure to provide some of their knowledge and experience to help you improve. I have had a lot of joy from coaching racing drivers over the years and seeing them improve.