Demonstration of a training exercise at a fitness course for SimRacers at ADAC Südbayern


Advantage in Concentration: How Fitness Benefits SimRacers

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Fitness is an integral part of motorsports, a fact that has become clear to everyone at least since Formula 1 legends Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher were leading examples. In esports and in SimRacing by extension, being in shape is not really important, you could think – and you would be completely wrong. A certain amount of fitness has its advantages when competing virtually as well.

“The stereotype of esports athletes being overweight, not eating well, barely moving and always sitting in front of a monitor in the dark is still present”, says Pascal Zeller, who has studied sports science and now works in sports development for ADAC Südbayern. Zeller knows: “That is not true, especially looking at professional esports.”

Studies to which renowned sports scientist Ingo Froböse has contributed to support this argument. “People are fit at those levels. Their BMI is not above average, they are sufficiently active”, says Zeller. Problems are still present, however, “especially a lack of sleep and high media consumption. Also, their nutrition is no different to that of the average citizen – which is rather negative, all things considered, since the average citizen does not necessarily eat well”, knows Zeller.

Fitness for the Head

The advantages of physical fitness are becoming more and more apparent in the conscience of the esports universe. Recently, the ADAC held a course on nutrition and fitness in SimRacing in Munich in cooperation with the DMSB – the first of its kind in Germany. “I have known SimRacing for years, and esports were part of my studies already. When I started working at ADAC, I became aware of SimRacing, too”, remembers Zeller. The course was his first point of contact with SimRacers.

The core thought of the event: pointing out good nutrition, concentration exercises and the advantages of physical activity. Zeller explains: “If you are active and do sports, it affects your body in multiple ways, and not just your musculoskeletal system, but also your brain. The neuronal conductivity improves, for example.” The result: potentially shorter reaction times. “A lot of things in esports happen in your head, but you have to move a bit, too”, says Zeller.

SimRacing is in a somewhat special position in this regard: Compared to “conventional” esports, the discipline requires more physical activity moving the wheel and pedals – hands and feet are always moving. “Additionally, drivers are always tense. If you do something to benefit this, especially in the shoulder and neck areas, it will help to keep performance capabilities up over long distances”, knows Zeller.

Those distances are another point in which SimRacing differs from most other esports disciplines: In races with full stints, those are usually around 60 minutes long, small breaks like in between Counter Strike rounds every few minutes are very rare. “Concentration is limited, and small breaks are essential for the brain”, Zeller underscores. An adult can focus continuously for between 60 and 90 minutes, “then their attention decreases”, says Zeller. “And in SimRacing especially, it needs to be high all the time to prevent mistakes from happening.”

“Lots of Possibilities”

This is where fitness comes into play. Put simply: If you are in better shape, you can concentrate for longer. To build or maintain it, going to the gym or hiring a personal trainer is not necessary. “There are lots of possibilities”, says Zeller. “If you have no knowledge yet, it is easiest to go online, for example to YouTube.” There, tutorials for simple workouts can be found, “functional training being one example, which is easily possible to do at home. You mostly train with your own bodyweight”, Zeller explains. Concentration exercises can be found as well: “You can do a lot with balls, throw them in the air, catching them, even catch them crosswise”, says Zeller.

These kinds of exercises are not far from those used for conventional sports. “When it comes to sports and healthy nutrition, you can easily go with the general recommendations”, says Zeller. “It is all part of it and has a positive effect on your performance in both the middle and long term.” This goes to show: SimRacing is closer to motorsports than you might think in this regard as well.