Use Video to Boost Your Cycling Performance

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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Use Video to Boost Your Cycling Performance

There are so many ways to quantify training: Power meterscadence meters and heart rate monitors track everything about our training that can be counted, but there are also qualitative aspects of our sport that aren’t as easy to count. If you are struggling to climb faster, get over logs, feel ‘flow’ on the trail or shred corners, this is where video can help.

WHO CAN USE VIDEO AND WHERE

There are many ways cyclists can use video as part of their physical, tactical and technical training. If you are a track or time-trial athlete, you can use it to analyze your aerodynamic position on the road or the indoor trainer. A road cyclist can video their interval sessions and assess body position and breathing. Criterium riders can assess cornering, sprinting ability and positioning into the finish. Cyclocross riders can work on their dismounts and mounts. Finally, mountain bikers can develop their pumping and log hop skills while also paying attention to their form on challenging climbs.

Another way to leverage video is by reviewing footage of an upcoming race course so you gain a deep knowledge of a course without expending physical energy or leaving the comfort of your home. A search can reveal many helmet cam videos from races and training rides in the areas you are looking for if you are not on location to get the footage yourself. This is a great mental advantage many athletes do not take advantage of.

HOW TO RECORD A VIDEO

Even if you do not have a helmet-camera or top-notch video equipment, you can use your smartphone. Pairing a phone or basic camera with a tripod or, better yet, recruiting training partners to shoot your video helps you get that perfect shot. If you are sharing your video with a coach, you can use online video services like YouTube or Vimeo and keep your link private. These sites have the ability to pause and slow down the video to closely watch the skill. More advanced apps are available from DartFish and Hudl Technique if you want to do more analysis and share with coaches or clients.

CAPTURING THE SKILL

To capture the skill on video, you need to make sure you’re covering three basics components: the setup, the skill and the finish.

Before the skill, there is the approach — and a lot can go wrong here. Assess whether the person looks ‘athletic,’ balanced and ready. Then comes the skill. Some may be more complex than others, and by capturing it on video you can assess whether it’s a timing or skill issue. Drills can help address this phase by isolating the part of the skill that’s missing. Finally, the finish position is a great indicator of whether you did the skill well. It is possible to accomplish a skill but still end up in a poor finish position. This finish position creates issues for the next skill. When in doubt, and to improve finish position, try doing two easier versions of the skill in a row.

WHAT TO LOOK/LISTEN FOR

Beyond the execution of the skill, it is worth looking at the level of comfort the athlete has during the skill. If the athlete is really tense or putting a lot of energy/effort into the skill, then there may be a cue to change focus to help them relax. We all want to do a big ride or race eventually so working to get more efficient can have great results.

If you video an interval session, you can see how you look while pedaling hard. Ideally you want to look smooth and effortless, even at high levels of exertion. The sound in a video can also be telling about your breathing, pedal stroke and shifting. The more smooth it is, the better.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at www.smartathlete.ca.

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