Staying relaxed is not always easy. Both professional and personal situations can get you tangled in a ball of anxiety and cause you to lose your cool. This is especially true for professional athletes. Last time, we gave you some relaxation tips from an NFL coach. This time we’re chatting with the folks at NASCAR to see how they stay cool under intense pressure. NASCAR driver Ty Dillon, who drives the No. 3 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing, shared some of his best tips with us.
The Cheat Sheet: What is the most stressful part of being a NASCAR driver?
Ty Dillon: I think the pressure that I put on myself. I strive to be the greatest every weekend and I expect myself to win every race that I’m entered, so that can be stressful. I’m a very competitive person and sometimes that can be exhausting, especially in the racing world. A lot of people ask me if I feel any pressure from family, other drivers, or fans. I don’t. The pressure comes from me. I have a goal to be one of the best drivers in NASCAR and it’s important to me that I continue to get better every weekend.
CS: How do you relax before and after races?
TD: We are so busy before races with sponsor obligations, appearances, and meetings with the crew guys that I really don’t have too much time to relax. NASCAR is the only sport in North America where a fan can walk right up to the athlete 10 seconds before he puts his seat belts and helmet on. So, for me, I relax inside the race car. Once my helmet goes on, it’s game time. It’s me, the race car, and my spotter. A lot of people know this about me — I’m very open and laid-back outside the race car, but once the helmet goes on, it’s game time. After the races, I usually find some comfort debriefing with my crew chief and rehydrating. We talk through the strategy of the race, how things went, how we can improve, and what we learned.
The Cheat Sheet: What else do you do to recharge after races?
Ty Dillon: Hydration is one of the most important things to do after a race. We lose a ton of water weight inside the car from sweating, so it’s important to rehydrate and eat well before and after the race. I also relax after races with my wife, Haley. She’s so supportive of me and is great after a win or a last place finish. I usually get cleaned up in my motor home after the race and sit and talk with her before heading to the airport. It’s nice to have my wife and family there as supporters.
CS: What is your No. 1 relaxation tip?
TD: Just be yourself. It’s exhausting to try to be someone you’re not. Try to find a routine and stick to it. Physically, it’s tough for NASCAR drivers to be relaxed because we’re constantly moving from place to place, so I focus on being relaxed mentally.
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