Filming competitions and practices are not the same, mainly because sprints and hurdles everyone competes at the same time, requiring depth. Practices sometimes focus on a few isolated skills such as starts or top speed mechanics, and different angles will provide different information. The average coach in track and field is rarely even taught were to look to view mechanics, making video just an extension of those mistakes. Panning, zooming, and placement are three major factors to catching good video. While this is not a complete guide to getting athletes videoed, it does provide key factors in getting decent film for review.
Where to set-up the camera-When filming it’s important to see what you need to capture. Faulty mechanics or injury problems should be viewed by the front and back, and performance factors should be from the side. When I film the front I am looking at foot strike and symmetry mainly. From the side I am looking for arm action and leg extension/flexion with posture changes. If nothing is going on in the infield of the track place the camera on the opposite side of the track for longer runs and block work off the track slightly and video tape lane 7 + 8 only. Most programs share the track and my biggest challenge is avoiding other athletes in the video. In competition set the camera up at 60m for a 100m so you can see top speed and try to be high enough to get depth of the lanes. When the heats are tight you may need to video from the front.
Zooming- The athlete should take up 2/3 of the height of the viewing screen. I film straight ahead warming up for hurdles to see arm and leg action and zoom out gradually. This will take a lot of practice because you need to be at a rate that it looks smooth and not jerky. You will need to do the same with 3/4 view to side shots to zoom out to capture the entire run. It’s better to pan and miss the beginning rather than zoom too much and get poor footage. Minimize the zooming as the 80/20 rule applies here; most of the time zooming isn’t necessary since human eyes don’t zoom and we need to get comfortable with what nature has given us.
Panning- When you pan the camera it often is done with a Tripod. The arm of the tripod Mount and the LCD screen help here. I am able to pan and view with my naked eye. I have filmed amazing or problematic technique and missed coaching opportunities because the 3.5 inch screen reduced my effectiveness to capture live events. Panning takes some practice as just staying straight to get good film usually captures 2-3 good strides and extrapolating sprints from a small sample is dangerous. I electronically time and video together 1-2 practices a week, and I film 50% of the practices and 20% of the workout.