6 Simple Routines for Better Sim Racing Performance
Routines are support functions, the small steps you discipline yourself to do consistently to reach and maintain that top level of performance.
Routines are things you shouldn’t need to think too much or stress about, so you can focus on what’s important for you as an esports athlete.
As a sim racer, you need routines that support both cognitive and physical performance under pressure AND optimize your recovery after a race.
For a race driver, the sim racing equipment is there to help you perform but it should not distract you during a race. If your sim racing equipment is of a high enough quality, you can use your muscle memory and your subconscious autopilot’s caretaking, so your brain can focus on more important things during the race. Think of routines similarly.
The routines we suggest in this blog post will help you boost your performance when racing. All top-performance athletes, within esports, regular sports, or motorsports, have built sustainable routines that support their productivity, recovery, and brain power.
We’ve divided our suggestions into 6 categories with multiple actionable ideas within each.
Let’s get started!
1. Performance Routines: Body
Mobilize, stretch, and work on your physical strength. You should prepare your body for racing and body weight exercises are typically easy to do at home or at the gym.
Warm-up your upper body as prep for steering with scapular push-ups, scapular pull-ups, trigger ball massage for lats, pecs, and traps, for instance. Resistance bands are great for both additional mobility and simple strength training. Do banded pull-aparts and push presses, for example.
Similarly, activate your core, thighs, and glutes for pedal work. Again, body weight exercises such as leg raises, ‘tuck ups’, glute bridges, air squats, and lunges are good before you race in your simulator.
You can also use a foam roller to increase blood flow, or massage tight muscles in your back and legs. All could be added to a simple bodywork regime.
Choose three exercises for the upper body and three for the lower body/core. Do each exercise three times with 15-20 reps.
2. Performance Routines: Brain
Sim racing is about cognitive performance as well.
Do five rounds of ‘Navy Seal nasal breathing’: 4– second inhale, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and then repeat. Remember it by thinking: 4s in – 4s hold – 4s out – 4s hold.
This will help you to kick off the day and gain energy and focus. The key here is to take time for yourself before “switching on” and checking those screens; social media, emails, TV – anything that could steer your brain instead of you steering it the way you want!
You should also take 5 minutes each morning to plan your goals and tasks for the day. “What do I want to achieve and how will I do it?” Stating them out loud increases the likelihood of hitting those goals. Your day should not be just one big chunk of grinding. It should rather be a set of blocks with smaller, more manageable goals.
3. How to FUEL Yourself
Plan your fuel for the day. When will you eat and drink? Prepare and plan as much as you can, in advance. A racecar can’t run on an empty tank, and neither can you. Plan ahead and don’t let hunger or dehydration get the better of you.
Also, consider what you put in your body to combat hunger and thirst. Would you ever see Hamilton or Verstappen slurp a supersized Coke right before a race? No, and there’s a reason for that.
Anything with large concentrations of sugar will make you peak but can also make you crash – something you don’t want during a race. Soda, energy drinks, and coffee may provide your body with a quick boost but depending on your current energy level and how you have eaten during the day. Be mindful not to overdo it.
4. Daytime Recovery
Remember to take breaks between your races. A break can be anything from 20 seconds to one hour, depending on the purpose and time available.
When taking a break, take your eyes off screens and connect with others, and/or reconnect with yourself by doing NOTHING.
Move around. A short walk or doing squats or push–ups in between will help power your brain and body. It is a known fact that your brain needs physical activity to function properly.
Spend time outdoors for oxygen, sun exposure, and vitamin D to support your circadian rhythm, energy levels, and overall health.
5. Night-time Recovery
Invest in downtime by literally switching off: no screens or devices (if possible) one hour before bedtime.
Minimize blue light (use filters or blue-blocking glasses if needed) two hours prior to bedtime. Blue light exposure has a negative impact on your melatonin production, leading to possible sleep disturbances. Special glasses can also be used to reduce blue light even further, like the Gunnar Glasses from Asetek partner Razer.
Prepare your gear and necessities (clothing, packing your bag etc.) and perhaps even your breakfast for the coming day. Save time and energy in your morning routines instead of stressing about remembering everything or making choices right before you go out the door.
6. Self coaching and reflection
Analyze your performance by asking these two simple questions:
- What did I do well today and why?
- What do I need to work on/improve tomorrow?
Reflecting on your performance is crucial for motivation and goal setting but also a great way to actively choose to “close the day”, switch off, and start recovering.
What will be your ‘go-to’ routines from now on?
Test and see what works for you! And remember: give your new routines enough time to show their benefits!
Satu Ahlman, founder of Saga Performance, works as an advisor to high-performing individuals and teams, including both corporate professionals and elite athletes.
She specializes in performance optimization, behavior change, and utilizing body data (such as genetics, stress, sleep, etc.) in client programs.