Training Tips From Top MultiGP Pilots
There are many components that go into being a champion. Motors, ESCs, frames, flight controllers, and batteries are not the only choices that you face. How you train is also an important step on your road to the Winner’s Circle. Your skills as a pilot are the foundation to your success on the MultiGP Circuit. Races are won before the starting buzzer; races are won by finding that calm center in the middle of chaos. Training, drills, and practice – both on and off the course – are what prepare you for the race. Just like any professional sports participant, a drone racers’ skill must be honed before they ever rotor up.
How do the top pilots in the world get prepared for competition? What drills and exercises, both physical and mental, do they practice to give them the edge on the course?
We asked some of the best pilots in the world what they do to prepare. Here is what they had to say:
Abel “Navihawk” Almaguer – ”Training is key. Without training you will not get better. When you are out during training sessions, make a point on not missing gates. Treat it as a real race. If you build good habits during practice it will help you during races. Having to go back for missed gates really slows you down.”
Zachry “A-Nub” Thayer – “My tip would to be always self-critical/analytical, review footage from the day, look for weak spots, where did you bobble, where did you blow out a corner, what did you struggle with, was the tune good, nit picking every detail, and then focus on fixing those issues the next session. Rinse and repeat.”
Nick “WillardFPV” Willard – “Well I’ve never practiced racing…. I think the only thing I ever do is make sure to go out and have fun while always pushing my abilities. I think its much more beneficial to push yourself flying overall and to focus on being a better pilot overall than a racer. A good pilot is a good pilot.”
Jason “VanGo” Glaze – ”One thing I do for practice since I fly I lot at my house (limited space) is fly as fast as I can as low as I can using trees as obstacles for chicanes. This helps me warm up my left hand (throttle) movement. Once I’m warm I will start using small gates at faster and faster paces. This also saves me a lot of time because gates can be hard on gear. Going through them once warmed up reduces the damage and time spent repairing. Spending more time flying, even at a slower pace, is more beneficial to me than hunting down parts and repairing gear.”
Jordan “JET” Temkin – “Build two or more identical quads. Having consistency in practice as well as racing is very important. You don’t want to rely on your ‘better quad’ and then fly a backup during a race. You should always be competing at the best of your abilities. Having two identical quads will reduce those extra variables.
Also, slower is a lot of time faster. A proper race line is ‘enter slow, exit fast.'”
Mackenna “McFly” McClure – ”When I get to the field I usually fly my first two batteries to get used to the sticks and the next 5-10 batteries are used to practice maneuvers that I feel are things I need to work on like right hand carousels, keeping low and controlled throttle arounds turns at high speed, split s drop ins and other things you’re starting to see on racing courses. Practice at the beginning and then just have fun flying because time on the sticks either way is going to improve your confidence which in turn improves your flying ability.”
Paul “Bulbufet” Nurkkala – ”My biggest tip for learning how to race FPV is that racing itself is a mental game. No matter how much you practice, no matter how talented of a pilot, the hardest part is winning against yourself. Your brain is your biggest enemy. Your brain wants you to go faster, shake your hands, and miss gates; it’s practicing resolve and “knowing yourself” that will enable you to overcome this internal dialogue. Thus, push your limits in practice and learn how to fly your own race, so that when you get to the race line, you are calm, centered and just happy to be there. Racing itself is a culmination of practicing, building, repairing, charging, composing, spending, and getting frustrated; everything is working against you to say “you’re going to screw it up after all this hard work.” If you can figure out how to tell your brain to shut up and let you fly, you’ll do better than you could ever expect. Push your limits in practice; fly your own race in competition.”
Joel Brown – “First thing I like to do is “warm up my fingies” never jump on a race track without warming up your fingers first. You’ll soon crash and just be upset. Set aside time to fly each day. Even if it’s two packs at lunch, muscle memory is key to drone racing. Don’t get discouraged when you crash or when you have trouble building. The beauty of this hobby is that everyone is eager to lend a helping hand. Soon enough you’ll have the knowledge needed to stay in the air!
Have fun!! Remember why you started this journey… to have FUN!! If it’s too stressful and the fun is gone… take a few weeks off to remember why you started flying FPV.”
Bapu Madhu – “Skill/Drill: Always push yourself to do better or fly harder on your weekend practice/fun races, never at the actual event. In other words, when you get to an actual race event, big or small, NEVER fly beyond your comfort zone. Consistency is the most important factor in races, finishing races should be the number one priority. I see many experienced pilots crashing out on races at big events mainly because they are trying to push beyond their comfort level or they are trying to fly faster than when they fly during their weekend practices. Consistency is more important that that miracle fast lap IMO!”
Bapu also told me that he has been coaching his wife as an FPV pilot, and he has been passing these ideas on to her. She just started flying five months ago, and with Bapu’s help she took 3rd place last weekend at a MultiGP race event.
Cody “Code Red” Matson – “Staying consistent with your components and knowing your machine is the best thing you can do. I feel like I just throw myself at trees focus on reacting smoothly. Flow like water.”
Robert “Captain Uno” Pringle – “It takes multiple tactics and strategies coming together to give yourself a chance to win. Have some determination. Stick time is key to get as much practice as possible – real time or simulator…doesn’t matter. Practice every move that occurs in a race. Repetition is the mother of all skill! Have fun.”
Tyler Brennan – “No matter where you are, setup a course. Don’t always need cones or gates, but setup a course and fly it.”
Chris “Hasak” Haskins – “Consistency is king in drone racing. Completing laps is the only way to perform well, and not put yourself in a position where you must get a first place for the next three heats, trust me I know. If you find a portion of a track that you often get “wonky”, take a couple batteries and slow it down. Do it smooth as possible then crank it up a little bit the next heat. You will feel like you are moving slower but your lap time will be a pleasant surprise. If you have good training partners and starting to get fried at the end of a practice session from all-out battle, ask the whole group to take a pack or two at 60% speed and then get back at the hard-core practice. It feels like a bit of a “reset” and typically more of your group will finish with even faster lap times.”
Zoe “3D FPV” Stumbaugh – “Flying FPV is largely a mind game – and come race day nerves can be the deciding factor between winning and losing. Before every practice session I ground myself when I put the goggles on, closing my eyes when they’re finally comfortable – taking a deep breath and opening my eyes, ready and focused on the flight ahead.
Getting in the habit of centering yourself during practice will help calm the nerves when the pressure is on at a competition.”
AJ “awkBOTS” Goin – “I guess it’s training for adaptability. I personally feel adaptability and consistency is the most important at a larger scale event. I typically do not set up specific warm up methods or drills until I have flown 5-6 batteries. I try and take advantage of my first three batteries by going relatively slow the first battery, learning the track and slowly picking up speed as I learn the flow. I focus on smoothness and making lines tighter and faster, all while making sure to choose the “safe” lines. After I have my first 5 or 6 batteries in (simulating a typical race) then I will generally just free fly and look for new lines, and try and work on a specific thing that I have had issues with, slalom, long sweeping corners, etc. until I run out of lipos. Fun is always the focus!”
The common thread between these champions is their mental game. All of them understand that training and drills, whether mentally or physically, are the foundation to their success. The more you can make your piloting become second nature, the better you will do as an FPV racer. Another important component of your training is also keeping your perspective. Understand and remember that if you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong. Putting yourself in the proper mindset is just as important as charging your batteries.
Make these skills, drills, and mental exercises part of your training routine and you are sure to see a difference in your piloting ability. Races are won in your head before they are won on the course. Get out there and practice; 2017 is sure to be an amazing race season!
Have something to contribute? Contact Boss Hat ([email protected]) with your skills, drills, tips, and tricks.
MultiGP is the premier drone racing league which hosts frequent competitive gatherings and casual events within its network of hundreds MultiGP Chapters and thousands of pilots world-wide. MultiGP nurtures its Chapters by providing tools, guidance and community to make drone racing fun, organized and rewarding for pilots, Chapter Organizers and spectators. Programming such as the Championship, Regional Series, Universal Time Trial Tracks and Chapter Tiers are designed to allow the drone racing community to compete in an easily accessible yet structured format with the goal of progressing the sport. MultiGP is the Academy of Model Aeronautics Special Interest Group for First Person View (FPV) Racing. For more information, go to www.MultiGP.com
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