Why video is valuable in training

 

 

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Video of competition, or indeed training, can be an important aid to improvement in so many ways. It is a multifunctional tool that can be of assistance to riders, coaches, supporters and sponsors to name a few.

As a rider we compete individually with our horses in our chosen field of competition and even in a team situation we still compete as individuals and gain a team score. As an individual we only have our immediate perception of what is or has happened without any external reference. Coaches are meant to help with that interpretation but video allows you to actually see for yourself the reality of what is happening.

In training and when being coached it is generally a staged or controlled environment. This should be designed to help develop and hone the skills required by both horse and rider to compete safely and effectively. The problem is this is a relatively predictable situation whereas competition is about testing this training and how the riders and horses cope with things that are unexpected. Often the individuals involved at the training stage are not present at competition, or even if they are, they are unable to see the whole course. Live observation can only happen in real time and the technical stuff may need to be slowed down or paused to actually identify.

Video is an essential tool for me to see if what I’m doing is working or to identify where I, or my horse, need to be better. It is also important to use it where possible to look at riders you aspire to and see what they do well and even what they could do better. I implore students to bring me video of things they’ve done so I can see what’s actually happening and often find signs of progress that they don’t realise are happening. I also use it a lot in actual training as a way of showing the rider what is really happening and match that to their perception.

I look at a lot of things when I view video. The first is probably how the horse is travelling and jumping. Is it in balance with a good rhythm with the horse focussing on its job? Is it responding to the tasks being presented? Is the combination working as a team?

I want to see a good balance on approach to a fence. If there is a turn to it then, if the combination is not in balance before the turn, they won’t be coming out of it. Balance doesn’t mean slowing down, it means how the horse and rider are functioning; is there a vertical balance, is the hind leg engaged? You may need help to see these things but that is the great thing about video footage

From a rider’s perspective I want to see if they are staying in balance with the horse. Are they able to keep focussed on looking ahead interpreting the next thing task? The timing is so important. Is the rider in time with the horse? This means are they staying in balance over their leg with an independent seat and hand.

When they jump when does the riders shoulder start moving? If it’s before the horse starts jumping, then they are out of synch which will affect the quality of the horses jump and be a distraction for the horse. Probably the biggest thing for me is if you see an error it was probably created quite a bit earlier than the actual moment.

Finally, it is easy to use video as another way to criticise ourselves or for someone else to undermine you. Look for the things you are doing well first and think how these can be made better. Nothing happens overnight so look for signs of development and progress.

 

Article by Warren Lamperd BAgSc, MSc Coaching Science

UKCC Level III coach British Eventing and British Showjumping