Using Drones in Travel Sports

Using Drones in Travel Sports

OK, I’m a bit of a technology nerd who enjoys taking pictures during games so my family can look back many years from now and reminisce about our travel ball experiences.  Over the last few years, I’ve added flying drones as a hobby and of course, I began using it to capture game and practice footage to share with coaches and parents so additional insight can be gained and possibly use it as a teaching tool to improve.  But I’ll be honest, it’s pretty cool to fly around and with the technology that exists today, it’s also fairly simple.  Here are some examples of using drones in youth sports:

Example of Batting Practice footage from a drone

Example of Soccer Game Footage

Example of Baseball Game Footage


Some things to consider if you fly drones to cover youth sports:

  • ERROR ON THE SIDE OF SAFETY!!!  Drones are fun to fly, but at the end of the day, if they fall from the sky and land on someone, bad things can happen.
    • Always try and not fly over populated areas if possible.  Once the battery has no juice, it’s going to drop from the sky.
    • Stay away from power lines, light poles, and trees as they have a tendency to jump out and grab drones (I speak from experience).
  • CRAWL BEFORE YOU WALK
    • Prior to capturing your first game, practice in a large space multiple times to get the feel of the drone.
    • Understand your limitations, i.e. battery life, range, FAA regulations, wind conditions, etc.
  • TRY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
    • Early on, try shots in which the drone can stay in a fixed location and you can rotate left to right and move the camera up and down.
    • As you gain hours in the air, begin trying swooping shots, they look a lot cooler than being fixed, but they also require more experience.
  • IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DATA
    • HD Video and Photos can take up a lot of space.  If you elect to capture the video or photos on the camera itself, make sure you have a memory card with sufficient memory, get a high quality card and you’ll have a better experience.
    • There are drones that will allow you to Livestream to Facebook & Youtube, to name a couple (two of the three examples were livestreamed) and they’ve made it fairly simple to put the drone in the air and start sharing your video to the world.  However, don’t forget, the information traversing through your phone can put a dent in your bandwidth for the month.  Make sure to monitor how much data you’re using or be ready for a large bill from your carrier.


What kind of Drone should i get?DJI_0019

There are many manufacturers out there that provide great options.  I’ve found great success with DJI and
currently use the DJI Phantom 4 Professional model.  What I enjoy most about flying the DJI product is how easy they make the experience.  The app as well as the avionics on the drone helps those that aren’t traditional pilots fly as if they knew what they were doing.  Being able to actually see w
hat they drone sees from your phone is also a big help and allows you to gain your bearings quicker when you lose sight of the drone in the sun or clouds.

Early on, I purchased a QX350 quad copter from Blade owned by Horizon Hobby and although, I enjoyed the people and customer service at Horizon, the QX350 software and overall performance was lacking in comparison to the DJI product.

Here is a list of the top drone manufacturers of 2016, thanks to www.airdronecraze.com for the information.

If you go down the path of buying a drone, I wish you the best of luck.  Remember one thing, wrecking stinks and gets expensive, so be as cautious as your wallet will allow.