Jared Pennington Guest Editorial
Hello again racers and welcome to ThisIsBracketRacing.com. First, I would like to say how excited I am to be asked to share some of my thoughts and ideas on Bracket Racing with you. It is an honor and a privilege to have Luke think enough of me and my ability to be involved in this innovative idea. My goal is to positively influence the readers of this site as well as providing you with another contact for questions or concerns that you might have about the sport that we all love. It is also my full intention to make you think “outside the box” and leave you hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for my next tutorial. I doubt very seriously that I will have that effect but what the heck … lets give it a shot.
Anyone that has read my articles over the years will see a familiar theme throughout this message. I seem to be over-passionate about this topic but it is only because I truly believe that it is one of the most relevant issues to becoming as good a racer as you want to be, no matter what your goal is. If you don’t feel the same when I am done, then I haven’t made my message clear and Luke will most assuredly relieve me of my duties here and we can all move on. Please don’t let that happen … I need this job.
“The Perfect Plan” is what we all pull into the gate with every week. As racers, we work all week to get ready for racing. We prepare the car, our minds , the trailer is loaded with everything that could ever be needed , the tow truck is shined up and the visions of winning the big one are riding right along with us for every mile. You can’t help but think “I am going to get it done today”. The human side of us will not allow us to think that we are going to the track to perform poorly and get slaughtered. We know it can happen but as well as we have prepared ourselves this week, we are certain to be the last one standing when the smoke clears. Sound familiar? Don’t think you are alone. Every racer on Earth shares those same thoughts. If you don’t constantly think about winning, you are in the wrong sport. Now I know there are millions of people that tell you they are racing for fun. I wholeheartedly agree with that thought as I race for fun too. My only addendum to it is that winning pegs your fun meter and if you are turning on win lights , this sport gives you a rush like no other feeling in the world. The idea behind this site is to help you win more and you will once you learn how to turn preparation into execution.
Winning involves a lot of things. The most important thing is planning. In order to win, you must be prepared to execute a plan. The win light shines in the lane of the person that executes their plan closest to perfect. It is a very simple thought, yet it sums up every pair that goes down the track. When you pull to the starting line, you should have already planned your strategy and decided what it will take to out perform your opponent. How many times have you been beaten by someone that told you afterwards, “I knew you were going to be good so I went for it”?. They almost always follow that up with one of the biggest bonehead moves of the century in the next round and it leaves you scratching your head as you head out the gate. That is not planning, nor is it execution on their part. However, it could have been poor execution or lack of a plan on your part that got you beat. We all pull up to the line at times and say to ourselves, “Don’t screw this up”. That is the worst approach that you can take to the line because you have already placed doubt in your mind about your ability to execute your plan. If you feel that your opponent’s ability does not match yours, why in the world would you convince yourself to back up to what you perceive to be a less competitive run? Why not execute your plan, like you do every round, and put them on the trailer? Always plan on what it will take to win the round from the starting line to the finish line and execute that plan to perfection. When you can do that consistently, you are going to win a bunch of rounds and the race wins will follow.
I think it is important to practice this idea during time trials when you have no pressure on you. When you are making your time runs, plan to make a particular run and see what happens. Tell yourself you are going to be .0XX on the tree and run X.XX and see how close you can get to that number. Once you are consistently doing what you “plan” to do, you can apply that to eliminations. We always get through a run, win or lose, and start trying to figure out what we did prior to getting the slip. If you didn’t plan to make a particular run, how can you decide how well you executed? You can’t! You must be honest with yourself to make this theory work. Don’t accept a .003 package as being what you intended to do if it wasn’t because if you didn’t mean to, all you got is a win light. Sure, you were double 0 and dead on for the win and that is awesome, but do you know how you got there? If you didn’t plan to make that run, you are setting yourself up to fail later in the race. Remember, a perfect run is not .000 and dead on with a 0. Huh? A perfect run is the exact run that you planned to make when you staged the car (Definition of perfect: exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose). If you make that run, you executed to perfection. Unfortunately, sometimes our perfect and our opponents perfect presents a gap that we can’t overcome. Don’t let that bother you. I assure you, when you start making your perfect run on a regular basis, your entire racing program will improve dramatically. Start deciding what you did during the run, start to finish and see how the ticket matches up with what you think happened. If the numbers are relatively close (within .01 on either/both ends), you have the hang of it. If the numbers don’t get close at all, you need to work on your game a little and try to figure out what caused the distance between planning and execution. There are hundreds of things that can cause you to miss your target. You will never correct them until you can recognize them consistently. When you get the hang of recognizing and correcting your mistakes, Katie bar the door. You will be the hitter instead of the hitee (I know that is not a real word but it fit so work with me here).
Bracket racing is a simple game of numbers folks. Get your average total package down to a small number and you will be a winner. Sure, you will lose a lot of runs making your average run and even hitting your target, but your round win percentage will go up. I guarantee it. What happens is you come to the line now and you don’t have to do anything different than you did last round, no matter who is in the other lane. Why? Because you have perfected making the run that you know will win instead of guessing how to pick up .015 on the tree to try to beat the hitter next to you. If you keep a log book, write down how far you missed your target on each run along with all of the run info. You will see that number get smaller and smaller simply due to recognition. When you get within the .01 targeted window on most of your runs, congrats on becoming the next big thing to hit bracket racing. You are now the hunter instead of the hunted. Feels good don’t it? Simply put, don’t go racing without planning on winning and don’t expect to win without learning to execute your plan. Good luck with your newfound wisdom and I hope to see you in the lanes somewhere… prepared to win of course.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, I can be reached at Jared@ThisIsBracketRacing.com and I will respond as soon as possible. I hope to hear from you.