Face it: Sometimes, no matter how carefully you line up at the gate, you’re not going to get the best of launches that earn holeshots. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be at the very back of the pack going into the first turn—unless you really screw up and crash on the way.But if you get just a little out of shape, there are a couple of things you can do to make the best of the situation and at least salvage a midpack start. While at Glen Helen Raceway Park, we snagged Subway Honda racer Joe Oehlhof and asked him to demonstrate what he does on those rare occasions when things don’t go quite as planned at the start.The key, Oehlhof says, is doing the little things right: “Obviously, the best way to avoid getting sideways [or wheelying] is to have good throttle control and good clutch control out of the gate, especially if you’re on concrete.” But that’s just one part of the equation. Read on for more.A. One of the most-common mishaps is wheelying, as Oehlhof is doing while complying with our goon-ride request. Most of the time, this is a result of incorrect body positioning (too far rearward). A good start often finds the front wheel just kissing the track surface as the rider speeds down the start straight—a sign of ultimate control. A giant wheelie means out of control, as the rider panics, shuts off and, hopefully, doesn’t take out any of his fellow competitors while he flails along.B. Another common problem is getting sideways and/or spinning too much out of the gate.C. “Keep your head over the [handlebar],” Oehlhof advises. “The big thing is to get your weight to the front of the bike so it doesn’t wheelie and then try to stay centered on it—don’t lean one way or the other. I start with both feet down to keep all my weight centered on the bike. Stay a bit loose with your arms. If the bike’s going to lean or kick a little from one side to the other, stay loose with your body. Whatever [the bike] does, react to it and get it back straight as quickly as you can.”D. RIGHT: The key to recovering from a botched start is to try to avoid it altogether, of course. This means prestart prep, which begins with lining up squarely behind the gate at a 90-degree angle (perpendicular) and keeping the bike straight up and down. If you’re unable to touch the ground and the rules permit, use a small box or block of wood—anything to help get you balanced and ready for launch.E. RECOVERING: What should you do if you spin too much and get sideways or get too much traction and wheelie excessively? Don’t panic, first of all. As long as the bike’s not looping out or completely sideways already, you can probably recover without losing too much ground. The key is reducing power to the rear wheel, which is done by feathering the clutch. In other words, pull in the clutch lever slightly—but without letting off the throttle—which will bring the front end down or help bring a slipping rear tire back in line. “If you let off the throttle totally and get back on it, you might straighten up but, once you get back on it, you might spin again,” Oehlhof points out. “You want to control that by feathering the clutch a little. All of your control is in that clutch.” As he mentioned before, body English plays an important role, particularly if the bike begins to get sideways—you have to compensate by shifting your weight to the opposite side.