With so much virtual coaching taking place at the moment, I compiled a list of considerations for coaches when delivering either a live coaching session or some pre-recorded video content.
Here are my top ten tips to deliver the ultimate video content!
Lighting makes a huge impact to the quality of footage, so where possible, record or stream in a consistently lit environment. Filming outside can at times be tricky due to the movement of the sun at different parts of the day and the effect that cloud cover can have on light levels also. If you are shooting outside, try to ensure you shoot with the sun behind the camera and not behind the subject, and choose the same time of day if you’re going to be filming from the same spot. If you have a small budget, purchasing some light soft boxes can be massively helpful when improving the lighting of indoor filming.
Audio is just as important as light levels. If you’re too far from the camera then the viewers may struggle to hear, so it may be worth investing in an affordable microphone that connects to your phone or camera. You can pick these up on Amazon pretty cheap. A 'shotgun’ mic is probably the best bet as a lapel microphone (usually connected via a cable to your phone) may get in the way of the activity you are demonstrating. Of course you could invest in a wireless microphone set, but that comes at a much higher cost to a small shotgun mic.
To ensure your camera is in a great, stable position, always use a tripod. Again you can grab a phone tripod adaptor from Amazon at extremely affordable prices. Far better than stacking up a pile of books or leaning it against your water bottle!
Filming in 4k will give you the best quality video content. Most modern phones have this capability, but it may not always be activated. To locate it on an iPhone, visit Settings > Camera > Record Video > 4k at 30fps. Be mindful that 4K files will take up greater storage space than filming in HD.
‘Framing’ your shot right means getting the optimal position of the subject on camera, so there isn’t too much empty space around them on the screen, or too little space either. Try to ensure that you get a preview of how your framing is whilst your filming.
Consider Your Background
Cluttered backgrounds can sometimes look messy and distracting for your viewers, so if possible try to keep your backgrounds clean so the viewers can focus on what’s important, the subject!
We may be providing sessions virtually, but safety is still an important issue. First of all, check with your insurance provider that you are covered in case one of your gymnasts was to be injured during a virtual session. Most NGB’s have already published information on this, but if in doubt, always follow up! A quick reminder at the start of the session that the gymnasts should be in an appropriate space without objects around won’t take long, and may save a rolled ankle or bash of the leg (and Mum won’t be happy if they smash a table!)
Treat these sessions like any other. At the start of the session, set specific outcomes and goals for your gymnasts to focus on. By doing this you’ll create very intentional training sessions in which gymnasts can still make progress in many areas of their physical development. Progress = happiness, and if the athlete doesn’t feel the sessions are helping them progress, it won’t take long before they disengage.
As per the objectives at the start, always finish with a debrief. Tell the athletes what was good about the session and what you were pleased with. Remind them why the sessions are important and what they are gaining from them, and then let them know what they have to look forward to next time you meet. Thank them for their engagement and participation, remind them how proud you are of their commitment to the sport and club. We’re not coaching robots. They may be young, but they’re human too 🙂
Have Fun & Mix It Up
Most of all, make it fun! The ’novelty’ of virtual sessions may have rubbed off for many by now, and as we adjust to our new reality (albeit hopefully still short term) we need to ensure these sessions continue to be enjoyable, spontaneous and engaging. Mix it up, DON’T do the same thing all the time, and ask the athletes what they would like to do in some sessions also.
So there you have it, my top ten tips for delivering great digital content to your athletes! I hope it's useful!