Want Better Skills, Fast? Film Yourself Training

by | Aug 3, 2020

Do you want fantastic mechanics and people skills? I want to give you a simple piece of advice that, if done, can transform your training:

Film yourself training. Then watch it.

You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. The reason? It. flipping. works. You just have to do it. If you do, the payoffs are huge!

Become a Better Trainer (Way better)

“Training is a mechanical skill.” – Bob Bailey

After grad school, I worked for a phenomenal trainer.

He was the fastest, most effective trainer I had ever seen. His skills were insane. My jaw was on the floor for the first several months. This doesn’t mean the other trainers weren’t good; this trainer was just remarkably exceptional. What made one of the biggest differences? His mechanical and operant conditioning skills. (He was a graduate of all 3 levels of Bob Bailey’s operant conditioning camps.)

He insisted his employees record their training sessions regularly. While initially awkward and painful for me, it soon became crystal clear why.

Cue timing. Cue intensity. Marker timing. Reward delivery. Reward location. Deciding when to increase criteria, when to hold steady, when to go back. When to move your body, where to move it, where to look. These are all factors that have a huge influence on how effective you are. They’re also nearly impossible to assess accurately unless you video yourself!

Watch yourself. Notice when you’re effective and where you can improve. At your next filming, do what you do for dogs: focus on one criterion 🙂 You deserve success, too. Here’s a mini example of something I did this week, with my own feedback.

Become a Better Coach

Where it’s permissible, film yourself teaching your clients. Classes, in-homes, you name it. If you want to make it better, record it!

Watch yourself: Listen to what you say and how you say it. What do you really like? What worked well?  Is anything unclear? Anything you think you should change?
Watch your clients: Does what you say help them improve their handling? 

When you’re feeling like you’re ready, swap videos with another trusted trainer friend! This is a fantastic opportunity to catch things you might not have been able to otherwise,  and to hone your skills for giving constructive, clear feedback for your clients. Everybody wins!

You Can Do It!

Lots of us have wanted to film ourselves and just haven’t done it yet, or didn’t keep up with it. That’s normal. But it’s not going to get us far.

Maybe you’ve been dragging your feet because you just haven’t gotten around to buying a tripod. There are lots of reasonably affordable ways for most of us to make or buy phone tripods. Here’s the handy one I use with my phone. Fits beautifully in most training bags and you can carry it on a belt or training bag with a little finesse.

Maybe you feel really self-conscious on camera. Be gentle with yourself and help yourself get the heck over it. If you were a dog, what would you do to get comfy with being in front of the camera? Super short sessions with desensitization until you could do a full session? Reward yourself with chocolate?

It’s hard to look at our own flaws. Seeing them can make us feel extra crummy and vulnerable. It’s a normal, human reaction. It’s also something we can wean ourselves into doing with more confidence! Yes, it sucks to see where you’re not doing awesomely, but it feels amazing to take that same skill, practice it, and then see how you’ve improved!

Part of being a kick-butt, successful trainer is striving to improve yourself, including your handling skills and people skills. Get in the habit of regularly reviewing yourself and you’ll start seeing results in no time. Happy filming!


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