by Ben O’Grady
In a previous post we wrote how one of the most important advantages you can give yourself as a recruit is to submit video. This is absolutely true, and in this article we’ll talk about how to do video the right way to maximize that advantage.
Video technology has come a long way in the last 10 years, to the point where it’s a cinch to shoot some video and get it online quickly and easily. I recommend two solutions.
Solution A is the easiest and cheapiest. Pull out your smartphone, shoot the video, and upload to your YouTube account using the sharing options. The whole process from start to finish could take 10 minutes. This has the lowest quality but can still be useful.
Solution B is to use a higher quality video camera, record the video, then download to your computer for uploading later to a YouTube (or similar) account. This solution has a few more steps and requires a bit more tech savvy, but the resulting video is much higher quality. There are mid-range point-and-click video cameras that can be had for as little as $50 and really good camcorders for $200 or more.
As an example, you could get the Samsung HMX-300 HD camera for $83 off Amazon. It’s even waterproof! Something like that would work just fine.
Advice: Don’t blow the bank on buying a great video camera. You want quality where you can see the details of the rowing stroke, but it doesn’t have to be professional quality. On the flipside, if you’re submitting video, make sure it’s not so low quality the coach can’t tell you from the bowman (unless you are the bowman). Video should be quality enough that coaches can clearly pick you out in an eight. If your smartphone is too shaky or fuzzy to make out the image, don’t use it.
Also, most high school rowing programs these days own video cameras and your coach should be well versed in shooting video and getting it online. Ask for assistance.
Framing and Scenes
My recommendation is to have your coach, teammate, or even a parent shoot the video from the coach’s launch and frame these types of scenes:
- Profile shot at low rates, with a pair holding the set, stroke rate 16 – 22
- Profile shot at medium rates, with a pair holding the set, sr 24 – 28
- Profile shot at race pace, all oars rowing, sr 30 -36
- Three-quarter view at medium rates, with a pair holding the set
- Shot from straight down the stern, where you can see rowers splitting into their riggers. This is especially useful if you’re the stroke seat.
- Scenes from different types of boats, even sculling!
- Video of a 2K piece on the erg
There’s a lot going on here, but if you can frame each scene, with say between about 20 strokes per scene, that provides a wealth of knowledge about a rower’s technique, flexibility, and rowing style.
I don’t like video of drillwork because I think it’s too easy to look good in a drill. It’s very easy to have your blade and body in the correct position during a pause drill, for example. My preference is for video of pieces or steady state rowing. I want to see the rower perform while the crew is truly moving the boat. The ideal video would be from an actual race on a racecourse, but that’s really hard to get. At the minimum, shoot video of the crew doing steady state by sixes and all eight.
Should you use YouTube? Back when I was recruiting, most of the video I received was on a CD or DVD. That was fine back then, but discs tend to get lost. There’s also the expense (on the recruit’s part) of mailing discs around the country. I recommend uploading all video into a personal YouTube, Vimeo, or similar account, and emailing the link. That way a coach can access at any time, even on the road. It’s far cheaper and far more convenient.
I like looking at a recruit’s YouTube account and seeing tons of video, even dozens, of rowing scenes throughout her career. If you have video from your sophomore year through your senior season, even better. Coaches will be able to evaluate your progression and see the improvements in your stroke. Make sure everything makes sense and clearly label each video and provide a helpful description. If the scene is 6 x 2 minute pieces at a 28, put that in the description and the title. Make it easy for me to find what I’m looking for.
I really like erg video because it gives me a true close-up of the athlete and allows me to see when technique breaks down and how efficient you are during the tough moments. It’s also video evidence of a personal record, if you set one. Erg video can be insightful, so make sure you provide it. This is also the easiest video to shoot.
There are other benefits to video. Coaches may not talk about it as much, but it’s helpful to know what you look like. They want to see your musculature and your body type and project what you can become in a collegiate training program. Without video, you’re just another name and a set of stats. Even if you can’t show all the scenes I listed above, find a way to get some video online and give yourself the edge of the rest of the crowd.