By Team Hytro
John Noonan is a highly experienced performance coach, currently working as CEO of Noonan Performance. Having previously worked as a sport scientist and strength and conditioning coach, he uses his diverse experiences to develop ambitious business professionals and elite athletes – particularly those in the motorsport world. With clients including Mercedes Junior Drivers and F2 star Frederik Vesti, we learned the techniques and tools John uses to unlock top performances.
“The best athletes do the basics consistently well,” said John. “They have real awareness of their identity, their purpose, and the process that’s aligned to their outcomes. They do this process regardless of challenges and stress, and they embrace this process rather than focusing on outcomes.” In the motorsport world, challenges come thick and fast. Global travel, a packed race calendar, heat, hotels that aren’t always luxurious and fierce competition from other drivers are all part of the job, particularly in F2 and below. Ultimately, each driver is facing these challenges and competing for the same outcome: to win. “Winners and losers all have the same goal,” John added. “Those who fall in love with the processes will ultimately go further than those who fall in love with the outcome.”
When he begins working with a new athlete, John starts with a simple question: ‘what does success look like to you?’ By understanding this, he states, athletes, can then pinpoint how they achieve that success. Throughout, they need to be in control of the process. “In motorsport, you can start brilliantly, but if you make an error on an early corner then you can soon be back in fifth or sixth place. Being able to deal with such setbacks in the moment, pivoting, and adapting, all comes down to that sense of control. Without control, there may be negative self-talk. The driver may tighten up, become stiffer with their movements, and drive more on emotion. Moving into a space where they have control of their thought process is vital. We want our drivers to have great skills, emotional control, and be well-conditioned. That’s where tools such as Hytro BFR come in.”
In more recent times, drivers are preparing far more like professional athletes than just racing drivers. While decades ago drivers would ignore the gym, now it is an important part of their day-to-day training. “We approach pre-season with the aim of finishing it at the peak of fitness,” John said. “With congested travel, the amount of races, and commitments to media and sponsors, there isn’t much time to train during the actual season. By starting at peak fitness, we acknowledge any losses in physical condition will be less detrimental to performance, whereas lower levels of strength and fitness are harder to address when the competition season begins”.
Le Castellet (FRA), July 21 – 23 2022 – Round 9 of Formula 2 Championship 2022 at Circuit Paul Ricard. Frederick Vesti #09 ART Grand Prix. © 2022 Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency
The physical challenges when driving are multifaceted. Racing in hot environments puts a strain on hydration, and cognitive function, like reaction time, while a typical race involves at least 1,000 corners, and 3,000 gear shifts, all while a driver is at around 80% of their maximum heart rate. For two hours, they must make decisions on a knife edge. “To excel, drivers need to be physically and mentally conditioned,” summed up John. “We look at their cardiovascular capabilities. Their strength, too. They need to be able to take 5-6 Gs of force in the corners, along with submaximal efforts such as steering and stabilising the head while braking. The more conditioned they are, the faster we find drivers are able to recover after races. Given that there are 14 races in F2 and 23 races in F1, we need to think outside the box to train these areas. Hytro BFR really plays into our strengths.”
With its ability to stimulate hypertrophy, improve aerobic conditioning, and aid recovery, Hytro BFR is an ideal tool for time-poor athletes looking to unlock gains. “I want to give my athletes something that’s going to drive the right response and get the right adaptation without leaving them in a hole for days,” said John. “Something that offers variability. Hytro BFR is that tool. It’s practical and user-friendly. With F2 we’re not always in hotels with high-end gyms, so Hytro BFR allows us to get a decent workout when travelling. I get athletes to end sessions while strapped in, working to fatigue to drive hypertrophy. We also work aerobically while strapped in on the bike, sustaining steady-state efforts for twenty minutes at a time. Between sessions, drivers put on the garment to enhance their short-term acute recovery. By doing that we’re increasing heart rate variability and driving recovery by “flushing” the system. Anecdotally, we’re seeing our drivers report higher levels of freshness, readiness, and ability to perform physically and report lower levels of fatigue onset.”
“Drivers are using the tool and seeing instant results, which aids their intrinsic motivation. They’re finding Hytro BFR wearables versatile, easy-to-use, and faff-free, something that can be done anywhere. Ultimately, I want to utilise evidence-based practice for my athletes, and the depth of literature on BFR allows me to give them Hytro BFR with confidence.”
As the motorsport season roars into action, John will be working closely with his stable of athletes to overcome the sport’s unique challenges and help his athletes unlock their performance potential. He’s part of a growing number of elite coaches administering Hytro BFR to their athletes. For any coach considering BFR, he had simple advice: “Look at your environment, your athletes. What challenges are they facing? If it’s lack of contact time, inability to drive physical adaptations, a congested schedule, or a need to recover, then consider Hytro BFR. It’s an incredibly versatile garment that every individual can have without paying through the nose. For me, it’s been an incredibly worthwhile investment. I’d recommend anyone to give it a go.”