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American Ninja Warrior Executive Producer Brian Richardson weighs in on the home stretch of the application process

His thoughts as one of the brains behind picking the Ninjas.

Evans Vestal Ward/NBC

It’s been well reported that the submission process for American Ninja Warrior season nine will wrap up in just a few more days on January 2. From then on, potential Ninja Warriors will have to anxiously wait to find out if they get the call to the course.

We’ve heard from Angelou Deign, the Casting Director, on how to create an effective submission video. We’ve heard from American Ninja Warriors themselves, who have survived the casting process, on what they think gets someone picked for the show.

Now, we have a few final words on the subject from one of the show’s Executive Producers, Brian Richardson.

Once Deign and her team have waded through every single application, they’ll pass on their choices to Richardson and the other Executives. Richardson gave us some perspective on what they’re looking for, why no one is a shoe-in, and what a Ninja should do if they’re not selected.

Pictured:(l-r) Brandon Riegg, Senior Vice President, Alternative Programming; Kent Weed, Executive Producer; Arthur Smith, Executive Producer; Kacy Catanzaro, Brian Richardson, Executive Producer; Anthony Storm, Executive Producer at the Emmy Award-nominated "American Ninja Warrior" For Your Consideration screening on the Universal lot Aug. 24
Evans Vestal Ward/NBC

On the volume of applicants:

“I think the biggest thing to remember is that it's gotten very competitive. We get so many submission tapes. There are basically 100 applicants for every spot.

We’ve had thousands of tapes come in so far, but it’s always a last minute rush, and many people send in their tape in the final days. We have not made any choices yet. We’ll start that process right after the new year.

Our casting department does a great job of taking the thousands of applicants and cutting it down to a few hundred for each city- and we, the executive producers, and network executives, make the final decision, and narrow it down to the roughly 100 who run the course in each city.”

On returning Ninja Warriors:

“A few years ago, a returnee who did fairly well the year before would probably get invited back, but now it’s not guaranteed. There are just a lot more athletes vying for those spots. I encourage applicants, especially veterans, to not ‘mail it in’- and put some effort into their tape. Talk about what's new from last year, what's changed, or why they want to come back.”

On what the executive producers want to see:

“The biggest single thing I’d tell everyone is to bring some energy and enthusiasm- no matter what you’re saying on the tape. Too many people sound like they’re bored and reading the phone book. We want people who want to be there… who are excited about it.

We definitely need to see their physical skills, but I always like to also see people speak on camera, instead of just reading something underneath the footage. I think you get a much better feel for their personality, what people are like, if you see their face and how they speak.

I think everyone has something that makes them unique and we want that to come out. It might be their job, or their family, or where they’re from. It might be their personal journey- they overcame an illness, or made a physical transformation, or something that happened in their lives. And it doesn’t always have to be sad. We like happy, funny stories too.”

Final word:

“And anyone who doesn’t get picked- don’t give up. Next year it may be a different story.”