As American Ninja Warrior grows in popularity, more and more people are submitting videos to try to be on the show, so you’ll want all the tips & tricks you can.  For the 2017 season, over 50,000 submission videos were submitted!   Over the years, past athletes, the hosts themselves, and producers from the show alike have dropped hints and tips on what it takes to make an American Ninja Warrior submission video that grabs their attention and gets you on the show. Below are some of the best tips! Some of these tips are based upon an article & interview with casting director Angelou Deign from American Ninja Warrior Nation

Ground Rules

  • You must be 21 years old on the day of taping.  Sorry, youth!  If Team Ninja Warrior College Edition airs again, that’s a way to compete if you are 18.  However, ninjas like Daniel Gil had to wait years until their 21st birthday to have their shot at the course!
  • You have to be available on for the couple days of taping.  The city qualifier course and city final course tapes back to back nights in one city. You would have to be available both of those days – and pay for your own food, travel, and lodging.  If you make it past the city finals course onto the Vegas Finals, those costs would then be taken care of.
  • You can’t just walk on to the show.  There’s an entire application that must be filled out, in addition to the video.  Each season has between 500-600 competitors, with 100-120 running in each city.

8 Hints & Tips to create a successful submission video for the TV show American Ninja Warrior!

1. Submit Early

By submitting early, the casting agents and producers have the time to reply and give you tips to improve your video. These tips may include lighting or audio needs to be fixed, which increases your chances tremendously. If you submit right at the deadline, there probably wouldn’t be time to fix any errors or make adaptions or improvements.

About 90% of applicants submit within the last three days before the deadline. So, the people reviewing the submissions—and they watch literally every single one of them—might have more time to think on your submission if you submit early.

2. Do not leave the “story” part of your application blank!

American Ninja Warrior is about ninjas with stories. The network executives want to see stories. Most people who apply are super-fit, so you need to differentiate yourself by something besides and more than your athleticism.  When telling your story, don’t just tell it, but show it. Use pictures or videos in your American Ninja Warrior submission video while talking about that part. Show yourself as a person. Offering a background story is essential to any good submission or application.

Your story might just be unique enough to get you to the qualifier course. However, keep in mind that 100 to 120 people run, and then they can show at most 20 per episode, plus fast forwards. So, if your story isn’t interesting enough, you are more likely to get cut and not even be on TV.
The simple answer is: that is the format of the show. Many of these decisions are made for dramatic effect. Judging by the ratings, the format is working. Remember, ANW is technically a game show, NOT a sporting event.

If producers like your video, they create a “one sheet” on you based on the application you submit, which then gets sent with the video on to the producers. Again, submitting early gives them time to ask you questions that may enhance your one sheet.  There’s a ton of videos to go through (more than 50,000 for 2017), so they watch them by region, in the order in which they will film.  The casting team starts, and the team then passes them on the casting producer. Subsequently, that casting producer forwards it to executives from A Smith & CO, and NBC. With so many submission videos, they can really only pick the ones “everyone” likes. This sifting and sieving process ensures that only the very best of submission videos make it to the top.

3. The First 30 Seconds Of Your Video Are The Most Important

Lighting and audio are key, but more important than that is your energy. You need to capture everyone’s attention and have a good energy level in the first 30 seconds of your video. Be charismatic, energetic and full of life.  Again, sharing your life outside of athletics helps greatly. This is especially true if you are a ninja gym owner or trainer. Use whatever characteristic, story, occupation or feature you have that relates to ANW.

4. Video Should Be About Two Minutes Long

The ideal length of an American Ninja Warrior submission video is two minutes. This includes at least one minute of athletics. The producers want to make sure you have the strength to be on the show. If you have access to a gym, get clips of you running the entire course, doing all the obstacles. If you can’t, show a video of you doing as many pull-ups as you can or something similar that shows your physical capabilities.

5. Be Creative in Your Choice of Music

Everyone is bored of music like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Rocky”. Everyone does that. The key point to remember is to stand out. Be bold in your music choice, which, when done well, can be a major advantage.

6. It’s Okay to Not Be Selected

The casting producers aim for 70% of the contestants being new to the show, with 30% being returning ninjas.  Persistence pays off. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t make it this year. Take whatever feedback you get and work with it. There’s always a next chance. Failure is an essential step toward success.  And if you are still determined to get on the show, you can always try the walk-on line!

7. Having a Famous Ninja Say “Get This Guy on the Show” in Your Video Doesn’t Help.

A great American Ninja Warrior submission video is about you telling your story. Endorsements from other people don’t make you stand out from the rest. If anything, including them in your video only shows laziness. It’s way more impressive to promote yourself well than to have someone do it for you.

Remember to focus on your athletic ability and the story, which doesn’t necessarily have to be sad, just inspiring and/or interesting. The video should hopefully also be “fun”. Make sure you up-play yourself. Sell and tell them why you are different.  If you are returning after being on the show, explain how your life or training has changed since last year. Tell them about how you improved, remind them how dedicated and determined you are.

8. Video Editing Skills Aren’t Super-Important

It’s much more important that your energy comes through properly than to have a perfectly edited video.