The value of videoing your training sessions

Most of us make an effort to record our trial runs.  The video let’s us know with certainty what went well and what could use some improvement.  But what about when you are at a practice session or a class?  With today’s technology options, is there any reason NOT to record your agility training sessions?  With slow motion, stop action and frame by frame analysis, you can learn so much!  In a class setting, when your instructor, says “that was perfect!”  don’t you want to be able to watch that sequence back and see why she said that?  If you are training alone your camera may be the only way to judge your timing, the effectiveness of your handling cues or your dog’s performance.

These days, if you have a smartphone or tablet, it’s super easy.   Accessories are available to put the phone or tablet on a tripod.  And video editing software is inexpensive and easy to use.  I’m not going to provide a review of all the options out there but perhaps you’ll find it useful to know how I go about recording my sessions these days:

Smartphone: iPhone 7 Plus

Video editing: iMovie

Analysis: Coach’s eye  for frame by frame analysis or timing sequences

Tripod: Standard tripod with an accessory that holds my phone.

Storage: Videos take a lot of space so I have an iCloud storage account…yep, there is a small monthly fee.

Here’s how a typical training session might go.  I plan my training session…let’s say I’m working on a double box setup with my young dog Nick.  I setup my smartphone on a tripod so that I get a view of the working area.  I warmup Nick and when ready to begin, I start recording.  A typical session might last 5-10 minutes.  Let’s say the session has gone reasonably well…that is, we haven’t run into any “head-scratchers”, I’ll stop recording and then either immediately or later in the day, I’ll input the 5 minute video into iMovie.  I quickly edit out everything except the performance.  Now I’ll have a 30-45 second video that I can look at within iMovie or inport into Coach’s eye and examine critically, slow down or look at frame by frame.  I can examine my timing, position, footwork and my dog’s response.  I might even see that Nick “scooched” on his startline when I wasn’t looking :-).  This input is invaluable for evaluating our progress and planning our next training session.

At this point, I can either save that day’s shortened training video or delete it.  I always delete the longer 5 minute video…it’s just taking up unnecessary space on my phone.  Often if I save the video, I’ll only save the best bits to look at again.  I don’t want to review my mistakes over and over, I want to review what I did correctly.

Now let’s say I have run into a “head-scratcher” moment within the training session.  Where the dog is responding in an unexpected way.  Maybe a bar is repeatedly coming down or I’m getting an off course that I can’t figure out.  I can break off the training session and immediately go to the camera and review what has happened…simply by opening the video with the Photos app and reviewing.  Often, I’ll immediately see the problem and be able to carry on with my training session with much more success.  Or, if you can’t figure it out, you can bring this video to your instructor for advice.

I hope these ideas have helped…most importantly, get out that smartphone or camera and give it a try!