Strategizing for a Guaranteed Invite

There are a couple of ways to get into the American Ninja Warrior competition. The first way is to simply show up on the days that they are filming and stand around in line with a bunch of other hopefuls praying for your shot. Apparently this worked for some people last year, but there were plenty of people who waited around and never got their chance.

The second way to get into the American Ninja Warrior competition is to submit an application video in hopes of earning a “guaranteed invite” to secure your spot. Last year, which was the first tournament for American Ninja Warrior, most serious videos earned guaranteed spots. This tournament (American Ninja Warrior 2) is expecting a heavier load of applicants, but most people seem to think that if you submit a solid video establishing your “character” and showing some real Ninja Warrior skills that you stand a good chance to get an invite.  Psychologically, having an invite in my pocket would be huge…all that energy wasted worrying about whether I’d get to compete could go into preparation and training instead.

So what’s my strategy? Well, first off, a large part of my strategy is to get my video in early in the submission window. The submission window just opened up, and stays open until late June. From what I understand it is a “rolling review” process, meaning that they review your video when they get it in and make a decision right there…they don’t wait until they have all videos and then review them comparatively at that point. So in any rolling application/acceptance process there is always an advantage to getting in your video early. This all means that my top priority, even before really getting my “training on”, is to get my video together and submit it.  I hope to get my video in by the end of April.

The guidelines for the video are pretty simple: less than 5 minutes, establish your character, and show some Ninja Warrior chops.  The submission form clearly states that “casting decisions are highly subjective and may involve factors other than physical characteristics.”  This says to me that the “character” portion is important.  My character is clearly (1)  middle-aged father-of-three rises to the challenge, and (2) I’m much bigger than the average competitor clocking in at 6’4″ and 225 lbs while most of them weigh in the 120-160 lbs range.  Simplistic, but I think you need a simple angle for these things…I’m older and bigger than just about all the competitors, but I’ll still bring the heat.  So I’ll shoot a few shots establishing those realities, including “exercising” with my kids (them sitting on my back for pushups, etc.), and then I’ll need 5-10 scenes of me doing authentic Ninja Warrior stuff to prove that I am no joke despite my middle-agedness and size.  Over the next week I’ll be working on those scenes.

So my submission strategy?  Apply early, tell my differentiated story, and then show some real Ninja Warrior prowess.  Hope that gets it done, I want to compete and show everybody the tiny little Ninja Warrior I’m been hiding inside me!