Simple Steps on How to Record Your Pickleball Game

Author
Jeremy Pollack, PB Vision Community Ambassador
December 19, 2023

The power of video analysis can help us sharpen our skills by amplifying the learning value of every game we play. To harness the full potential of tools like PB Vision, you don't need complicated setups or extensive preparation to leverage this powerful tool. In this article, I’ll share simple and efficient methods to capture video of your game, allowing you to focus on perfecting every serve, third shot drop, and dink. 

Here you can find:

  • Considerations for Your Recording Setup 
  • Pickleball Court Setup Options 
  • How to Frame a Pickleball Court
  • Bonus Tips & Tricks

Considerations for Your Recording Setup

When it comes to filming your games, balancing quality and efficiency is key. While having a setup akin to a professional PPA match would be great, it's obviously not practical for casual play. On the other hand, setting up without considering the basics, like framing the court, risks leaving you with unusable footage. 

In priority order, here are four essential factors to consider: 

  1. Proper Framing: Ensure your camera captures the entire court. 
  2. Efficiency: Quick set up that doesn’t take much time. 
  3. Repeatability: Aim for a consistent setup that works every time. 
  4. Flexibility: Your setup should adapt to different courts.

Pickleball Court Setup Options 

For most pickleball courts, you can categorize them into two groups:

  1. Fenced pickleball courts: These have a fence within 10 feet on at least one side.
  2. Open-space pickleball courts: These are courts without nearby fences, including indoor courts.

Fenced court setup - the spring clamp

One of the easiest and most reliable setups uses a spring clamp. After testing an array of combinations of photography equipment, I landed a straightforward setup that offers reliable framing while being extremely quick and repeatable to setup. This clamp includes a built-in ball head, and you can enhance it further with a screw clamp featuring bubble levels and a phone mount.

Here's what you'll need:

Why I Like It: To date, nothing beats the speed and efficiency with which this setup can quickly clip onto any fence, leaving you ready to play in ~30 seconds. It's sturdy and unobtrusive during play; I've even moved it mid-game to shift courts without being disruptive. Unlike a tripod, the clamp on the fence isn't a hindrance to even the most extreme play. Similarly, once the camera is mounted and you start playing, you immediately forget that it is there. 

Tips:

  • If the camera is above your line of sight, use the bubble levels for level framing.
  • When using back cameras (so you can’t see the screen)
  • Shoot extra wide (e.g. using the 0.5x camera) to ensure proper framing. 
  • Start the recording before you mount it to the fence to ensure the video is in proper orientation and while you can reach the button
  • Practice setting it up a few times to become confident you can mount it and adjust the frame to fit in the full court. 

Note: You may have seen the flexible-leg tripods where the legs wrap around any object. While these can work well, I would highly recommend sticking with the higher-end versions of the original Joby GorillaPod, which typically cost around $100-$120. Over 15 years as a photographer, I have personally had multiple of these types of devices fail, and many of the cheap ones are simply not very stable.

Open-space court setup - tripod

When you lack a nearby fence, a standard tripod setup works well. Set it up far enough away so it is not a distraction or hindrance. There are near-infinite options for tripods and brands. If you don't have one already, expect to pay $40+ for one that can be moderately stable with the weight of a cell phone. 

Here's what you'll need:

  •  Opt for a simple ball head on a tripod with fully extended legs at a minimum of 5’
  • Tripods with included ball head and clamp, max height >5’+ at B&H Photo
  • Universal phone mount that works with standard clamp (Amazon)

Why I Like It: The tripod is a fundamental piece of photography + videography gear for a reason. It is flexible across many scenarios and, when coupled with a ball head, doesn’t even need to be placed on flat ground. It is easy to carry it onto the court with the legs + center column extended to quickly set it in place before quickly leveling it out and hitting record.

Tips:

  • Most tripods have a hook of some type in the middle. Use that to hang your bag or anything else with a little bit of weight. This will greatly increase the stability of the tripod, particularly on a windy day.
  • Extend the tripod's legs to their maximum height before using the center column.
  • Watch out for setting up the tripod too too low. Many inexpensive tripods will max out at around 5’, which can result in an obstructed view, particularly if set up >10’ from the edge of the court. 

How to Frame a Pickleball Court

To ensure smooth processing, position the camera at a minimum height of 4 feet, ensuring that all four corners of the court are clearly visible within the video recording frame. If the entire court isn't visible, it might lead to processing issues with the PB Vision system. If you do nothing else, make sure every time that each of the four corners is visible in the frame and not obstructed by the net.

Bonus Tips & Tricks

  • Always ask for permission before recording games. A simple "Mind if I record our game to improve my skills?" usually does the trick. In my experience, almost everyone has no issue, and many are interested in doing this themselves. 
  • Use your cell phone camera. Considering the tradeoffs discussed, it's hard to beat the “good enough” quality of a cell phone camera for both recording and processing videos for analysis. 
  • Shoot at 720p at 30fps. For efficient analysis, shoot your videos at 720p resolution and  30 frames per second (fps). Unless you have specific biomechanical details to uncover, this resolution and frame rate is sufficient for play analysis and will result in far smaller video files, speeding up the upload and analysis process.
  • Occasionally record from your opponent's POV. Set up your camera on the opposite side you are playing on occasion. It can be helpful to get a view closer to what your opponent sees, as well. For example, to get a sense of what a slicer second shot or cutting serve looks like.

Time to record!

Harnessing the potential of video analysis can be a transformative tool for all pickleball players. By capturing your gameplay, you’re investing a small amount of time now for a great long-term payoff. Use the setups discussed above to effortlessly capture the footage you need with PB Vision and take your gameplay to the next level. See you on the court!

We’ve just launched Just the Rallies V3, a significant update that brings a heightened level of accuracy to rally slicing. Give it a try, and upload your gameplay video today. 

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