I see people filming their swing every day on the driving range, but rarely do I see someone doing it effectively. With the development of swing analysis apps like V1, Coach Now, and Hudl Technique, golfers have never had more tools available to record their swing. However, much like the golf swing itself, without a proper setup it is difficult to achieve the result you are looking for.
This month’s post is going to be a “how to” on shooting your own video on the range to help you get the most out of your practice time.
Choosing a Device
When it comes to choosing a device to record with, the best option is always the most convenient. Most cell phones today have cameras with slow motion video capabilities at high frame-per-second rates. The higher the frame rate, the clearer the picture. 240 frames per second (fps) is the gold standard when it comes to cell phone and tablet recording.
The biggest advantage to cell phone or tablet is its network connectivity. You can shoot a video on the range and send it to your coach in seconds right from the range. You can also store it in the cloud, saving you valuable storage space on your device. With a traditional camera you need a computer and software to move the videos from the camera to the computer in order to share them.
Mounting your Device
Whether you’re using your phone, a tablet, or an actual video camera, you want to use the sturdiest base you can to support your recorder and ensure that it’s not going to fall over in the wind. The other key is that you are recording each video from the same spot. For that reason I am a huge advocate for using a tripod.
For the cell phone users out there, the most popular option among golfers is the Cradlz smart phone holster (formerly known as the Cam Caddie). Stick your alignment rod in the ground and attach the Cradlz holster to the stick. Your phone sits in the holster which has a sliding vice grip to keep your phone in place. The benefits to the Cradlz holster are its convenience (fits right in your golf bag) and the ease of use. The only opportunity for improvement is stability, as it is attached to the alignment rod in the ground, which is prone to swaying in the wind.
For the more serious golfer, an iPhone mounted on a fold-out tripod is an excellent option. This gives you a very solid base which will resist swaying in the wind and doesn’t need to be pushed in to the ground like an alignment stick does. Tripods can easily be found on amazon.com for a nominal price.
There are two views that are most common and useful to record from, down-the-line view and the the face-on view (also referred to as caddie view).
DOWN-THE-LINE FACE ON
When recording down-the-line, you want the camera to be at chest height for the golfer. The camera should be placed on the knee stance line, so as to eliminate the parallax of the camera lens. Parallax is the effect of moving the camera side to side, creating a different image based on its position. A great example is the speedometer on your car and how it looks like you’re doing 60 mph from the driver’s seat, but a different speed from the passenger’s seat.
In the 3 images above, I have moved the camera for each frame to show how the parallax changes the look of the swing. This can cause you to think that you have an issue in your technique that doesn’t actually exist. In the left picture, the camera has been moved to the left which creates a laid off look. The right picture has the camera moved to the right, making my club look much more vertical. The center picture gives a true representation of where my club is in relation to the left arm and the amount I am changing the flex of my legs and turning my hips.
You want to record from a distance of 12-ft. to 15-ft. each time as well. To mark my place as I move around during a lesson, I will place a tee in the ground to ensure I’m keeping the distance from the player consistent. This is very simple to do, but has a dramatic effect in the consistency of the video from lesson to lesson.
Once you have your camera set, take a test video to ensure the angle is correct.
When recording from the face-on view, the height of the camera remains at chest height for the golfer. You also want to make sure you are square to the stance line of the golfer. Using alignment rods on the ground make this much easier, one for the golfer’s alignment to the target and the other is at a 90 degree angle for me to know that I am square to the target line.
Recording the Swing
Once you have your camera device in place and have your alignment correct, I always recommend doing some test swings first to make sure you have your distances correct. Press record and make 3 or 4 swings consecutively to ensure you have enough to review. Check your angles and make adjustments as necessary. I do not recommend using a countdown timer as this will force you to rush in to the shot and sacrifice the quality of your practice.
To make the best use of video in your practice, I recommend referring to the video often to ensure you are making progress. It does you no good to record one video, decide what you are going to work on, then come back to video 45 minutes later to find that you never made a change.
A great practice session using video would look as follows:
- Set up your camera and tripod as outlined above. Film test swings to check alignments.
- Shoot your original videos face-on and down-the-line.
- Review video and establish priorities (or implement drills and suggestions from your coach).
- Record 30 seconds worth of practice swings demonstrating the change.
- Review practice swing video to ensure you are achieving what you intend.
- Repeat the process or recording 2 exaggerated practice swings and hitting one ball a number of times. Don’t stop recording between each swing, record all 3 swings consecutively.
- Review the 3 swings after each recording to ensure the desired changes are being made.
- Mark the best videos by starring them (heart logo on iOS devices) for sharing later.
When it comes time to save videos, I will go back to the videos I marked and begin to crop out the swing that I liked from the series. This makes it easy to share with coaches or on social media, saving people from watching the 12 seconds it took you to get ready to start to move.
Finally, it is important to catalog the changes from session to session so as to be able to follow your improvement over time. Make notes of what you were working on and what your cue was to trigger the change. Should you get off track in the future, you will have a map of how to find your way back to “Drawsville”.
This process is defined as block practice, where you are strictly technique focused. Because of the amount of focus required during this practice, I recommend keeping it to no more than 30 minutes. Following the above steps will ensure that you are using your time to the best of your ability and will shorten the time it takes to make changes to your technique.
At the end of the day, this is a very small part of you breaking 80 for the first time or winning your club championship. It will, however, save you time and help you make the most of your practice. 10-time NCAA Champion UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden taught his players how to tie their shoes, knowing that blisters would sideline his players and cost them wins. The highest performers in every field do even the simplest things to the highest standard.
I see videos online every day shot from terrible angles, with questions about how to fix that across the line look at the top of the backswing. Sometimes the easiest way to change what you see, is to change where you stand.