Recruiting video plays an important role for both families and college coaches today. Video allows college coaches to get an insight into your skills when you are not afforded the opportunity to play in front of a college coach in person. While nothing replaces performing in front of a college coach, a good video coupled with strong recommendations from qualified coaches that are familiar with your skills and ability may be a factor as to whether or not a college coach chooses to recruit you or chooses to pursue you further. In some sports (football for example) most initial recruiting activities on the part of the college coaches are done first by video. In order to get the most out of your video, it’s important to follow several rules when providing coaches video.
1 – Keep the video short. College coaches do not have time to watch a 2-hour game tape. Most coaches want video between 4 and 8 minutes long and will often request full game tape after they have sampled your highlights first. You have to remember they are often receiving several hundred videos a year and your video has to be short and to the point. If you wish to add full game footage, include it at the back end of the tape and let the coach know that it is available if he/she would like to watch additional footage.
2 – Don’t send unsolicited video. While most college coaches will make every effort to watch all videos that are sent to them, they are often so overwhelmed with video that they cannot get to them all. Contacting a coach via phone, email, or online recruiting forms prior to sending a video will go a long way to getting your video seen!
Mike Glavine, assistant baseball coach at Northeastern University says video plays a role in recruiting but cautions recruits about its use. “Video has a place here at Northeastern in recruiting but it does not play a major role in the process. We try to watch every DVD that is mailed to us and we also watch videos attached to the emails we receive. For us, the video can be a starter in the recruiting process but ultimately we are going to try and see recruits play in person. As a staff we will probably see thousands of kids play each summer. We always prefer to trust what we see in person more than a video.”
3 – Make sure the video is clearly labeled with your name, address, phone number, school name, graduation year, jersey number, jersey color, email address and possibly your SAT/ACT scores, and GPA. You would be amazed that recruits are still sending video to coaches and the coach has no idea what player they are supposed to watch and there is often no contact info on the tape. Most companies that create video will provide your contact info on the tapes or disks, but if you need to provide additional information an easy way is to print labels right from your computer.
“If we can’t readily get out to see a player, film is great. Even if I see a kid play in the summer, I want tape of the regular season as the circumstances often change – type of coaching, positions played, etc. I don’t want to see highlights or drills. Full game tape – maybe two unique halves. I am always surprised at how many people send a tape and don’t ID the player with uniform #, color, etc. I also look for mistakes and how the player reacts. I’m more interested in defense not offense – play off the ball – what do they do after a pass – stand or cut and screen, things like that are important to see.” Karel Jelinik (pronounced Carl), former men’s basketball coach at Washington & Jefferson College.
4 – Perhaps the most important aspect of sending out video is identifying schools that you are interested in and will be an academic and athletic match for. You can have the best recruiting video in the world but if your grades or ability will not allow you to gain acceptance and/or play for certain programs, your video for that particular coach will be wasted. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the recruiting process and the one that causes parents and student-athletes the most angst. It is extremely important to identify programs where you think you can compete at and you have to build a relationship with the college coach in order to determine whether it’s an opportunity worth pursuing. As always, we recommend that each family purchase a copy of The Making of a Student-Athlete so they can better learn about how recruiting works and what their role and responsibility is in the recruiting process.
“I like to see a straight on golf swing or directly behind the golfer from a reasonable distance, not too far, not too close, and you have to use a tripod and turn the microphone off! A video is better than nothing but you have to do it right. I get videos with kids missing eight out of ten putts five feet from the hole, which can be funny at times. Either show the stroke or show yourself making putts!” Steve Conley, men’s golf coach Methodist College (NC).
5 – Be realistic. While many coaches have recruited players off of video and recommendations, other coaches still need to see you play in person. Video is often the first step into getting a college coaches attention and getting them interested in making an effort to see you play in person. It doesn’t happen for every athlete and every coach and there will be instances where a coach will not pursue you further even when you have provided them a compelling video. Remember, the coach is in contact with hundreds of recruits and if they do not feel you are a match or do not feel they have the ability to see you play in person, your recruiting process for that school may come to an end.
6 – Think like a college coach. I review videos for parents sometimes. It’s the same video over and over where their son or daughter gets the game winning hit, the game winning goal, or makes the game winning save and every shot is a goal and every pass is a completion. While you see the game winning hit, college coaches see a batter who strides too far forward and gets a hit with an off-balance swing. The college coach then asks, “is that swing going to work at the college level where every pitcher is better than what you are facing right now?” College coaches don’t really care about results on video, they care about technique, or lack of technique. They are more concerned with how you do what you do. Focus on technique in your video by trying to display different athletic traits that will translate to the next level.
7 – Follow up! Sending a video to a coach and then expecting a phone call or to be recruited probably won’t happen. You need to follow up with the coach preferably on the phone and ask if he received the video, watched the video and what the next step might be in the recruiting process for both you and him. Your ability to communicate with college coaches will go a long way in terms of you getting recruited. Coaches want to recruit confident assertive high school athletes who can communicate their desires and abilities with them and show an interest in their college program.