What is Target Fixation, and How to Use It to Drive Faster

There is a concept from motorcycle riding that can be helpful when piloting your race car.


Anthony Curtis

If you ever go through a motorcycle riding class1, then a good instructor will teach you about target fixation. This is when you focus on a hazard–a pole, a patch of sand or a guard rail–and your gaze actually steers you into what you wanted to avoid.

It’s usually not a good thing.

But we can use this powerful phenomenon in our nervous system to our advantage.

By always looking ahead to our next step and letting the body’s nervous system handle the details.

It’s a little tough to explain and kind of strange at first…but it works wonders.

For example, when you are approaching a turn you look ahead to where you will brake. And when you are braking don’t look at your braking reference point. Instead already be looking ahead to where you will turn-in.

And when you turn-in, you’re already looking at the apex.

And when you hit that apex you are already looking at the track-out point.

And so on…

Looking ahead, or through the turn, helps us anticipate instead of react.

1. If you do enjoy motorcycles I highly recommend riding classes for both fun and safety. Many of them are offered for free by your state (if in the United States). As for me, I ended up preferring “4-wheel motorcycles” like my 2006 Honda S2000.

Anthony Curtis

I use my background in engineering and physics to help racers drive faster. Keys to Speed and my other automotive sites have taught millions of fellow gearheads.

These free lessons are adapted from Keys to Speed video lectures. To get the full course, practice drills and more →