How to Do Video Analysis Correctly
The video analysis is more popular then ever these days. With the advent of accessible and user-friendly technology, more people then ever venture into the territory previously occupied by professionals only. The upside is an increase in awareness and public interest in this subject. The downside – an overwhelming amount of useless and sometimes plain ridiculous video analyses published creating further confusion.
There are many examples of poor analyses, just do a simple search online, so in this article I pointed out a few examples in order to show you what to stay away from when looking for a professional to do a video analysis for you.
If you choose to do your own analysis, which is absolutely achievable and doable – continue reading and watch the video.
Professionally done video analysis, however, will be more accurate and will save you time and effort, which should be spent on achieving your personal best. Here’s a list of specialists for your reference.
All you need is a camera, and these days it means an iPhone or an iPad, also you’ll need a tripod or a friend to hold that camera/or smartphone/tablet. You can absolutely go all out and get a fancy setup, but that’s not needed or required.
The other thing that you would need is an app to playback the video frame by frame. Click on the links at the end of this article for the two of the easiest to use and most popular video apps.
Before you push that ‘record’ button make sure you’re ready to film. There is nothing worse than viewing the footage of a runner without lower legs included, or from the wrong angle when trying to analyze the technique. That said, I personally think that all camera men (and producers for that matter) filming runners at high level events should be fired. Ok, just kidding, but at the very least, they should be instructed on proper filming of athletes, and especially runners. For example, I would like to see all sprinters, not just the ones expected to win the race, and having their full body, and not just torso, would be super helpful. There is also more value in the side view compared to the frontal. So I would settle for full body side view of the entire line up with feet included and leave it at that. Not too much to ask yes?
When positioning your camera, whether held by a friend or a tripod, make sure to level it and bring it to the appropriate height based on your own height. You want the camera to look straight at you without a tilt down or up.
- Film Your Sideview. The most important view is the sideview. Everything else can be helpful and entertaining and can be done as well, but nothing will be as helpful as your sideview.
- Film Full Body. Position your camera so it captures your full height – don’t clip your feet or your head. If you have to sacrifice something – go for the head clipping. Don’t worry about vertical oscillation and the top of your body when you’re struggling with cadence and it’s the mid to lower body that needs work.
- Film Short Distance. All you need is a 30 meter stretch. If you can film a longer distance – great, but if not, then don’t sweat it.
Frame of Reference
Now that you’ve filmed your footage correctly, you’re ready for the next step – analysis, but before you look at the footage, you have to ask yourself a few crucial questions because without it the analysis has no meaning:
- How do you identify what’s correct and what’s not?
- Are the results useful? In what way?
- How can analysis/review/feedback be implemented in practice?
- Can this analysis be repeated on footage of another runner?
- What is the goal of the analysis?
- What conclusions are being made?
All that will bring you to a realization that there has to be a standard, a frame of reference. There is only one standard in running technique today – Pose Method. Using it’s frame of reference it is easy to look at the videos of runners and identify errors in technique, i.e. deviations from the standard.
Gain Meaningful Insight
We can collect an enormous amount of data from just one runner. Most of that data is not needed for a meaningful video analysis. But if you have a standard, and example of what should be happening, than it is easy to review the footage and compare the points and figure out what needs to be corrected.
How can this be corrected? Why is there often such a difference between what we think we do and the video? Simple. Most of people do not work on developing their perception, but that is all we ever have at our disposal. While out running, or during a race – you don’t have a coach or a camera to go to, there is no way you can memorize the angle and run and constantly remind yourself about that, but you can develop your perception that will help you get it right every time without giving it a second thought. With experience and further education, you can derive even deeper insight from your video analysis such as the injuries, wellbeing, potential.
Did you know that a Running Technique Specialist can point out technique errors and tell you exactly what it is costing you in speed? Wouldn’t you want to know how much faster you could run your next race? That can be calculated! A trained specialist can also help you fix those technique flaws that slow you down.
How to Do Video Analysis – Step by Step
And, finally, here’s the juicy part – watch this video to see how to do video analysis, what to look for, what to measure and what to let be.
Avoid Meaningless Lines & Numbers
Video analysis requires a conceptual model. Without it there is no way to identify errors in, or praise you for, your running technique. Without a concept and a standard there are no definitions, and if that’s the case – what are you analyzing?
Let’s look at a few examples of video analysis found online and that you should not waste your time on. There is plenty of this nonsense – don’t get trapped by it.
1. The degrees. What exactly do they mean?
The main question here is – what can you possibly do with these degrees? Now that you know those numbers… now what? What conclusions can be made? For what purpose?
So we have the 169° and 62°. What do these numbers mean? If there was a second take with slightly different numbers – 165° and 60° – what would THAT mean? How can these numbers be used in deciding what needs to be addressed? If a coach told you to change it back to 169° – could you perceive the difference?
However, looking at this footage, a technique specialist could easily identify the full extension of the knee which, contrary to popular belief, is detrimental to an effective start from blocks and often results in the dreadful toe drag on the track. No vague numbers, just a conceptual model that allows to draw conclusions and help provide the athlete with clear instructions on what needs to be adjusted in order to improve.
2. The angles and lines.
This is supposedly the measurement of the stride angle. You can see plenty of images with this measurement online. But what IS the stride angle? This study can claim that term if only because the authors actually bothered to study the subject and write a paper on it, but that study is a topic for another conversation. Can we use the same term for different things measured differently? I don’t think so, but let’s move past the name.
What are we measuring here and why? How high the knee is? What does that angle tell us? Some might argue the stride length calculation. But isn’t the stride length measured elsewhere? So how does this work with this angle in relation to where the foot lands? Do we factor in the angle of the knee bend and how does it affect the stride length? How do you instruct someone to increase or reduce the angle? How could a runner tell a difference when running? What IS the desired angle and why?
The only things that should be pointed out here are: the extended knee of the trailing leg and the high knee on right side and the extended knee on left side. Unfortunately these things are actually taught but are in fact the reasons for major loss of speed a la self-sabotage. I would also add that the guys in the image need to get better running shoes.
3. Video vs reality.
Here’s the last one. I can just hear the coach going: “well your arm is at 66° and the heelstrike is 8° pass the vertical – that’s just dreadful, fix it, bring it to 90° and 0° respectively”. While 90° can be more or less doable, and is super easy to measure in the video, how can you be sure when you’re running that it’s not at 85°? When the vertical line is drawn – what is it drawn in relation to? What are we measuring? Additionally, while arms play an important role in running, the overzealous analysis of arms’ angles that can be often seen in video analysis is quite frankly puzzling.
As you’re running, there is no way for you to adjust the degree of the angle to the point of minute detail often being graphed, and most importantly – there is no need in this. If you’re having difficulties with your arms’ position when running, if you’re hunched over, if your basic body posture is not right – chances are you simply need to revisit the very basics of movement. Your attention to your basic balance and strength conditioning (totally ignored in running) will eliminate half of the lines commonly drawn during video analysis. Crooked ankles on landing don’t need to be measured, they need to be corrected by exercises.
A heelstrike is a heelstrike and the measured angle of dorsiflexion won’t provide any additional intel. Every single degree and angle from your toes to your ears will change with every step. As you run, every angle and position of every moving part of your body will constantly be adjusted by your perception. Pin your perception down, work on it, improve it. That is all you have. That and a concept of what running is. These two things put together will allow you to do a productive video analysis and then you will be able to follow that up with a productive training session where you address things with exercises and drills.
Most of us schedule regular check ups with doctors. As a runner, you should get in the habit of scheduling a regular check up with your running coach and do a monthly or bi-monthly (or whatever regular timeframe you can allow yourself) video analysis. THAT would be cheaper than rehab, less frustrating than time off, and very effective as an injury prevention plan. Most importantly – you will experience consistent progress and joy of running.
The two most popular apps for video analysis are:
- Coach’s Eye – Instant Video Replay and Performance Analysis
- Hudl Technique: Slow Motion Video Analysis
But remember, it’s not the app, it is the person using the app that makes a difference. Learn how to do video analysis correctly. Look below for the running courses coming up.
Learning how to do proper video analysis is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 16 CE hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes are encouraged to attend.
Understanding and learning of sports techniques is part of the Pose Method® Sports Techniques Specialist Certification. This seminar offers 24 CE hours towards continuing education for Physical Therapists. Click here for scheduled seminars.