How are Drones Used in Recreation and Sports?

Not only are drones useful devices for numerous applications ranging from agriculture to infrastructure, law enforcement, national security, etc., they are also used for recreation and sports since they are really fun to use. The miracle of flight is something that has fascinated man since the late 1800s and recently unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been finding their way into various aspects of sports.

Here are some ways drones are being used in sports:

  • American football, baseball, and basketball teams used drones analyzing strategy and play.
  • Assisting athletes in analyzing their running, jumping, throwing, etc. techniques.
  • Filming of “extreme” sporting events in scenic locations. Extreme sports are high speeds and high risk events such as acrobatic competitions, skateboarding, snowboarding, in-line roller skating, mountain-biking, rock-climbing, skiing, car racing, motorcycle racing, skydiving.
  • Filming big wave surfing, water skiing, snow skiing, golfing, tennis, etc.
  • Drone racing league race events supported by ESPN.
  • Summer and Winter Olympics.

Drone Racing

Drones can be used to gather fantastic videos of sporting events and of the golf courses for marketing purposes. Drones can be used by spectators to capture the game in ways that were previously not possible.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the Internet for the past couple of months or so and haven’t seen the crazy new videos coming out seemingly every week, drone racing is experiencing a huge boom in popularity across the world.

Yeah, of course we’ve all heard of drones being used in military operations and have seen the cool videos our filmmaking buddies post to Facebook showing their latest drone shots, but what’s really exciting is that we might be witnessing the birth of an entire new sport.

Operators of the drones wear a virtual reality-type headset which sends them a live video feed from the drone’s onboard camera. The racers can then compete in a whole variety of races, from obstacle courses to timed runs, reaching speeds of up to 60 mph.

Drones can be used to cover sporting events anywhere in the world. Drones can provide unique perspectives and views for spectators and they are a great source of PR. In fact, this technology made an appearance in the last Olympics. It is a popular drone use that is finding its way into the lives of many. Many more users are now getting into this activity and following it like a hobby. It is like a video game race except for the fact that you encounter actual scenarios, and you control a race quad. For this reason, you would require an agile flying machine that can do acrobatic movements and sudden turns.

Recreational flying can be done anywhere, but is best if done in open locations so that you can always see your aircraft clearly. This is called “line–of–sight” flying. Attaching a camera to your drone is also a lot of fun in gathering beautiful imagery and video of the world around you.

Until the emergence of drones, to take aerial photos or videos, you needed a really tall ladder or a friend with a helicopter/plane to be able to capture the footage. A word of caution, be careful of who, what, and where you take photos and video with your drone. Privacy is a major concern for many people.

Hobby groups and flying clubs exist all around the globe; plugging into a group is a great way to meet other people who share your passion for flying. It’s also a great way to learn how to fly, learn new techniques, and learn how to serve and maintain your aircraft.

Sports Photography

Drones are also being used to gather footage in sporting events because of their ability to maneuver into locations that cable-suspended cameras cannot reach. Before the emergence of drones, taking aerial photos or videos required a really tall ladder or a friend with a helicopter/plane to capture the footage. Most recently, drones were used to gather footage of the skiing and snowboarding events in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Drones are especially important in sports such as skiing, ski-jumping and snowboarding because they are a challenge for photographers due to the sheer speed, high altitude, and often difficult terrain. The angles people get while filming, until recently, are not quite as intimate as having an autonomous flying robot, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV device) that can accompany a downhill skier, ski-jumper, snowboarder every step of the way or at every moment and under any conditions.

A word of caution, however, be careful of who, what, and where you take photos and video with your drone since privacy is a major concern for many people.


The government wants to prevent accidents involving drones. Drone operators are therefore required to follow a number of rules. For example, if you have a drone, you should check to see whether it is covered by your third-party liability insurance.

The most important rules for the recreational use of drones are as follows:

  • A private drone must not weigh more than 25kg (including cargo).
  • There are places where you are not allowed to fly a drone, such as over crowds or in the general vicinity of airports and other no-fly zones.
  • You must always keep the drone in view.
  • You are not permitted to fly higher than 120 metres, either above the ground or over water.
  • You are not permitted to fly in the dark.
  • You must always yield to other aircrafts, such as aeroplanes, helicopters and gliders. This means that you must land immediately if you see an aircraft approaching.
  • You should also stay away from accident scenes, since a drone can get in the way of emergency and police helicopters.
  • You can use your drone to take aerial photographs for personal use. This is considered “recreational use.” However, you are not allowed to violate other people’s privacy. For example, you are not permitted to secretly film someone. If you want to film or photograph a person, you must first get their permission.

These rules for the use of drones are found in the “Model Aircraft Order,” that is, if you speak Dutch.

A word of caution, be careful of who, what, and where you take photos and video with your drone. Privacy is a major concern for many people and could lead to legal issues, such as right to privacy.

If you don’t follow the rules, you may have to face a warning or be given a fine. It is even possible that your drone will be confiscated. The amount of the fine or the type of penalty depends on the nature of the offense. For example, the authorities will consider whether you were using the drone recreationally or in a professional capacity and whether your actions put any other people at risk.

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