Driver Fitness: Reaction Training


You know, having good car
control means having good catches, being fast, you
know, so quick catches, you gotta catch, catch, catch. A basic drill is to take a tennis ball and a wall, and simply bounce
the ball off the wall. How many catches can you make in 30 seconds?
You throw it in one hand, and catch with the other. Now as you continue to do this drill,
get better and better, you get more and more
hits in the 30 seconds. Hand-eye coordination, vision, everything. Nike strobe glasses are a phenomenal tool
for reaction and vision training. It’s a visual disruption system that blocks your vision for a short amount
of time and then allows you to see again. What this does is it makes your vision, the muscles of the eyes, very
hyper-sensitive and very, very quick to see things faster, because they have very limited opportunity. Constant visual disruption creates this
ability for the body to react faster, quicker, see things in the
limited time that it sees it, so when the glasses
come off, everything moves a little bit slower. Again, we use these with
the drivers — outside of the race car of course —
and this enhances their ability to see things faster
while they’re in the race car. We also have some very high-tech equipment
for vision and reaction training at PitFit. The Dynavision D2 is probably one of our
crown jewels. This light board allows us to improve the reaction
and visual skills — peripheral vision
specifically — of race car drivers. You have a
light board that will come on, you hit each
individual light as you go. We also can add a series of numbers across
a small screen here so you have to focus on looking straight ahead. You have to realize as a driver, taking your eyes off of the track in front of you just for a split second creates all
kinds of havoc and a full straightaway can go by you by just looking over at another
car, but rather see you look at the car outside of your helmet, so to speak.
For a demonstration, I’m going to
show you how this works. You can see the lights
are coming on; I’m trying to stay focused
on the board in front of me. Right now I’ve got a system where the rings
are about halfway out — a little wider peripheral vision, and when I take my eyes off the actual
screen in front of me, I don’t do as good of a job. This
allows us to work with the driver and focus on getting his concentration, his
visual skill, everything working properly. So we can determine, looking at a driver
score — for example, James Hinchcliffe, we can show which quadrant his reactions
are better than others. Upper left quadrant 0.43, lower left quadrant 0.45, lower right 0.45, upper right 0.40,
and we can determine that the driver has better
vision in one quadrant and actually design
a program where the lights just flash in that quadrant. We do this kind of training with the heart rate
elevated very, very high so that the drivers are simulating
what goes on in a race car. So they’ll, for example, row 60 seconds
on a Concept2 rower, jump off with a heart rate of 175, and then
go do 60 seconds on the D2, come back and do it again, back and forth. So now instead of doing
this reaction training when the body’s very
calm and relaxed, we’re much more into the race situation where the
music is blasting extremely loud, the heart rate is up, they’re sweating, and they’re having also to focus and
react while doing the same thing. We’ll also have them wear their helmets while using the D2, and
that again simulates that kind of closed-in feeling
of being in a race car. That ability to do that, it’s almost
unfair — an unfair advantage. A simple drill that you can do for reaction
training is a card drop. You take a deck of playing cards, or flashcards, drop
these from about chest height, eye height to the driver and they
have to squat and grab one everytime before it hits the ground.
The cards tend to move in
different directions so you never know which way it’s gonna go. To demonstrate this, the hands stay on the waist and you wait for the card
to drop out of the hand. Alright? Catch it when it goes…. Other activities you can use to incorporate reaction training and
hand-eye coordination is ping pong. It does certainly help
to have some sort of a machine that can do that.
We use one of the Robo-Pong products It’s an automatic feed machine
which allows us to work on our own. Adjust the speed, the oscillation, the angle, everything
about it and track the progress but you can just play ping pong
with a partner the same way.

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