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The Video Debrief Part 1 - How To Setup For Showing Videos From Training

Video Is Everything

So you've figured out that your team is ready to take it to the next level and you are ready to incorporate videos into your debriefs. Great! Video is the absolute best way to bring your feedback to the kids because they get to see themselves in whatever situation you are discussing - and learn from their own mistakes, while seeing what is working for them. It will always drive the point home harder if the kids internalize the lesson instead of you feeding it to them.

This 3-part series is dedicated to coaches who want to up their videography game and make their video debriefs with their Opti sailors as effective as possible. Note: As this is based on our experience, we hope you can adapt this set of advice to your own situation and resources!

What Is A Video Debrief Anyway?

It's a debrief, but with video. It seems very simple and straightforward but we've found that there is a lot that goes into one. Especially if you are coaching a large group. But essentially yes, you are aiming to show video from practice or last weeks regatta to your kids in order to strengthen the lesson you are driving home for that particular day/training block. 

We love a board/tv and U - table configuration.

Ideally, the setting is one of a movie theater - big screen as you can find, all eyes on the screen - and you in the corner pointing out things and acting as the conductor/moderator. You have enough time for all the footage you want to show plus time for questions plus time for setup which includes time for technical difficulties


Our number one piece of advice when it comes to video debriefs is to have a plan. It is really hard and you will lose your sailor's attention if your debrief is a rambling mess about tacks when you should be talking about starts! Also - having a plan means you already know which shots you will be taking in the first place, and what shots you will pull from your video pool in order to weave the basic story or message you are trying to convey. 

Having a plan does not mean planning your shots down to the second as if you are filming a motion picture, but simply just knowing the unifying topic and making sure you get footage that conveys that topic. For example: If we were looking to debrief on boat handling, specifically tacking, I would make sure that I get footage of individual sailors going upwind from The 3 Angles - and get footage of those kids tacking as many times as I could. 

Equipment Out On The Water

If you were to ask us what is the best camera for filming Opti sailing, we would say it should be a camera that you are comfortable using, and that it would not irrecoverably harm you if the sea were to claim it. But - we know 99% of coaches are more comfortable using their phone and now-a-days phones have such good cameras that they work for almost all times when you're filming out on the water.

(2020 Update) We have experience using the iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and can tell you either one of those can take fantastic video and pick up quite a bit of audio. We would not recommend phones without a triple camera setup as the ultra-wide and telephoto options are extremely useful.

On the whole, the most important thing about your equipment is not about what camera or the latest phone but what kind of condition it is in, and if it can handle getting spray on it or not. We actually film our coaching sessions on mobile platforms almost exclusively due to the fact most phones are waterproof now by quite a bit.

Drones, Gimbals, Zoom Lenses - Make sure they're charged!
The last thing we would add is whatever platform you're on, be sure you are comfortable using it, and know how to pull videos out of it seamlessly.

Know Your Transfers

It's almost pointless to have a fantastic phone or camera to take video at practice, and end up not being able to use it because you have no way of showing the video! And no, showing it off your phone screen is an absolute last resort - since the screen is tiny and the setting uncomfortable for groups of kids. Reserve showing videos off your phone only for working with 2-3 kids maximum.

Mirror your iPhone/iPad screen with this dongle from Apple.

We use the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter a lot, and it's a time-tested solution for a quick plug into an HDMI slot on a TV, projector or computer. We like it because it saves time on transferring video and we can stop and slow things down right from our phone screen.

Whatever your setup, make sure you are knowledgeable on transfers between the camera and display - easier said than done sometimes. 

What Is Your Theater?

Another major component to video debriefs is knowing what your theater, arena is. Ideally, this would be an enclosed setting, away from other groups and distractions, allowing you to maintain the group discipline and keep the kids engaged enough to make the debrief productive. 

We suggest having a dedicated space for debriefs at your building as it makes it easier to start to bring AV equipment in. Larger screen is always better since it allows the group to sit comfortably and for you to walk around and engage the kids.

All in all - the most important thing is that you know it beforehand and don't have to improvise much. CAVEAT: When at a regatta, this is almost impossible to do but if you have a tablet, it is easy enough to get the main points across if you have footage to show. 

Make Sure Your Kids Are Prepared Too

If you want to save yourself from talking at kids for 20-30 mins, we recommend you start your group early on the idea of bringing a notebook and a rule book into your debriefs. You can create the best video set of the month - prep for a flawless execution - and waste all that time because the kids can't bring something home from the debrief. 

We know. It's sometimes (read: most) of the time impossible to get kids to have that kind of discipline but we suggest looking at our Coaches' Verbal Toolkit to see some ideas on how to manage and build that kind of discipline. But again, the point being that a video debrief can be ruined by having your kids coming unprepared for a discussion and bringing some take-home points, well, home. 

From USODA ODP2 National Meeting 2020. Note the notebooks!

Make Time For Technicals

One thing we found happens a lot with technology is that it fails. You need to allow for that, especially in the shifty and highly adaptive nature of our sport. Literally anything can happen to your equipment from the time you leave from, and return to the dock. Batteries get exhausted, cables stop working, transfer times are slower, internet can be spotty - a million things. So - use every video debrief as a teachable moment for yourself and learn what works best in your particular circumstances, and setup. And always allow time for errors or technicals. We say throw in 5-10 minutes of padding around the debrief, just to be sure.

It should go without saying, plan around the weather as well. Blowing 30 knots and you're at a regatta? Probably not gonna have a lot of time to film, transfer, edit, and show to your kids. Out on the ocean? better make sure you've got a driver or have your camera secure! Really cold? bring a camera with buttons, or smartphone capable gloves!

Final Thoughts

There's a lot that can go into a lengthy debrief with video for your sailors, but we've put down some golden information for you in order to maximize your debrief time and send your sailors with something to think about. In the next part, we'll cover Some Do's And Don'ts Of Recording At Practice. 


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