How To Use Action Cameras: Tips & Tricks To Get Started

Action cameras are rugged, compact, portable camcorders that record video and still photos of, well, action.

On the gridiron, action is measured in the split second. The moment when the ball snaps, bodies collide and decisions are made in an instant.

Action cameras capture these moments — so you can re-live them again and again.

It’s no surprise they’ve become popular among the extreme sport set—think snowboarders, skateboarders and skydivers. For team sports athletes, action cameras put a whole new twist on reviewing game tape: They deliver an up-close, first-person view of plays as they happen.

“Lacrosse, hockey, football,” said Brett Phillips, an electronics buyer at DICK’S Sporting Goods. “They are all using these cameras to improve their game. Lineman wear them on their chest so they can view how they’re playing during practice, for instance.”

Wide-angle lenses and high-resolution capability make footage of your game or outing all the more compelling — and shareable on social media. Learn how to get started filming with these tips.


  • To make your edited video more engaging, try filming it a few different times with the camera mounted from different positions. This helps you get a more complete view. You may find that some positions work better than others. The handlebars on your mountain bike may yield rougher footage than the view from your chest, for example.
  • DIY duct tape mounting isn’t secure enough for play, so if you plan to wear your camera during practice, invest in a mounting device that’s compatible with your camera model. Traditional mounts are available for your chest or helmet, but you can get an especially unique look at the game with stick mounts for your hockey or lacrosse game.
  • Film a little around your home to get the hang of things. A few key terms: Your camera resolution is the number of pixels your device is able to capture. The more pixels, the better the image. The frame rate is the number of images your camera can capture per second. Keep in mind, 24 frames per second is the standard playback for film and video, but higher frame rates are available.
  • Don’t let failing batteries come in the way of your footage. Always bring along two to three extras and be sure they’re not exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  • When you’re editing video, avoid overly long shots and try to keep individual scenes at about three to five seconds.
  • It sometimes helps to plan out a quick “storyboard” so you can shoot with an idea in mind.
  • Always capture extra footage so you have plenty to work with while editing.
  • Look for cameras that have WiFi connectivity, so you can instantly share video or photos.
  • Likewise, many cameras come with on-the-go editing capability, so you can string together footage as you go. Many even feature built-in proprietary editing software.