Whether the game is volleyball, softball, football or any other team sport, video is a huge resource for all coaches. It’s used to scout opponents, correct mistakes, reinforce good technique and showcase the talents of your players.
But using video and using it correctly are two different things. Here are 5 tips for applying video technology in ways that will help your players in all aspects of their sports careers:
- Develop your players by showing them right from wrong
It’s one thing to tell a player what to fix or what’s happening during the action, but the ability to show them what’s happening and how to adjust allows for a whole new level of learning.
“I can’t tell you how many times as a coach you would talk to a kid on the sideline and you say, ‘You’re doing this wrong.’ And he says, ‘No I’m not,’” says Duane Maranda, head football coach at Westerly High School (R.I.). “They don’t necessarily understand the big picture and what you’re asking them to do. But when you show it to them, there’s no arguing with that.”
Coaches across all sports recognize that most athletes are visual learners. While they respond to verbal lessons and can improve from instructions, adding the visual element helps them make a stronger connection.
“This generation of kids responds to video, whether it’s YouTube or whatever,” says Michael Stewart, a coach for the Each 1 Teach 1 basketball club. “I think that’s the best way to get their attention. They respond to it because they get to watch themselves on TV. And when bad things come up, they’re able to see right away that maybe what they thought was going on wasn’t really going on.”
- Stay objective
It’s difficult for coaches to completely eliminate bias from their assessments. In fact, the human mind is incapable of doing it. Hard as we fight it, our emotions are always going to affect the way we recall an event.
Don’t believe it? Trust the words of Brett Woods and Brett Haskell, athletic psychologists at the University of Nebraska.
“Our emotions can sometimes override our prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for evaluating performances,” Woods says. “That can color your perception of the event and your memory. Your recall is shaded by your emotional evaluation of the performance rather than the actual event.”
Re-watching a game or practice can provide clarity. In the moment, our brains create theories and opinions that may not be accurate.
“I develop a hypothesis and then I look for only the information that confirms my hypothesis,” Haskell says. “If my hypothesis is that my team is playing terrible, I hone in on their mistakes and neglect the information that contradicts that hypothesis and tells me they’re actually playing okay. In situations where there’s heavy emotion in the moment, that impacts that bias even more.”
Video eliminates emotion from the equation. Upon the second review, coaches can clearly see what really occurred and eliminate the subjectivity the brain is prone to.
- Find the right stats
Statistics are an integral part of any evaluation process. Diving into the numbers can reveal tendencies that are easy to miss during game action.
But the stats sheet only goes so far. While the data is useful, linking it to video provides much greater context. With Hudl, used by volleyball programs like Nebraska, North Carolina and San Diego, one click is all that separates a coach from a statistic and a corresponding playlist of the video clips tied to that stat.
Video makes the numbers come to life.
“Being able to link your passing percentage to video is great,” says Bryan Amos, a former D1 soccer coach. “Being able to say to a player, ‘Listen, you had a 92% passing efficiency. But as a center-mid, I am telling you that you need to pass the ball forward more. You’re getting the ball in a safe place right in front of the back four, where you don’t have any pressure, and playing it outside to a wide-open right back and going back and forth in our defensive third… that’s not leading us to anything.’
“If all he was looking at was that number, without it being linked to video, he would never see that those passes weren’t helping us.”
- Scout your opponent more thoroughly
It’s key to address your own team’s needs, but dissecting your rival’s game plan can be just as critical. Just ask Ryan Grates, an assistant football coach at Cape Fear High School (N.C.), who scoured video and discovered crucial tendencies that allowed the Colts to win an East regional championship.
“Our defense almost knew what they were running before they ran it because of all the tendencies we got from (the video),” Grates says.
Finding a tactical edge in your scouting can be the key to getting a leg up on the competition. It plays a huge part in the process for USA Basketball. With a hectic tournament environment and little time between games, former assistant national team director BJ Johnson relied on video to get Team USA prepared for each opponent.
“Video is a huge, huge thing,” says Johnson, now the coordinator of player evaluation for the Brooklyn Nets. “It’s something that people don’t necessarily see from the outside looking in, but it’s one of the things that really aides us in our preparations for competition. All the scouting of opponents as well as knowing our team and what makes us successful, it’s all hinged on video. It helps us grade ourselves and get prepared for our competition.”
- Get your athletes noticed and recruited
Email inboxes and Twitter feeds of college coaches and recruiters are littered with messages from high school athletes hoping to get their attention.
The best way to catch coaches’ eyes is with a killer highlight video. Showcase your game in a short clip to get a player on a school’s radar. Flash some talent with highlights and coaches will watch full games to complete their evaluation.
The more athletes you get recruited to top programs, the more your program is elevated and your reputation strengthened.
“You have to figure out a way to differentiate yourself, and video is a great way to do that,” Amos says. “If we saw a video that we really liked, it was, ‘Hey Bryan, you’re getting on a plane tomorrow to go see this kid live.’”
We could go on and on about the benefits of video, but we think our point has been made. Video is the connective tissue in the modern sports landscape. It helps communication with players, gives visuals to stats, gets athletes recruited and helps you find the holes in your opponent’s strategy.
Video is the present and future of athletics. Check out what it can do for you.