At this point, every coach should be using video and sharing valuable insights with their players. Much of this teaching occurs in group sessions where the coach can address the entire team or specific factions of players at once.
These meetings are vital to team performance, but you can’t be with your players all the time. You time with them is limited—fortunately, your ability to share with them isn’t.
If you teach players how to effectively watch video on their own, you can create a culture where athletes crave it and constantly seek out new ways to improve. Here are some easy ways to get the process started.
Make Comments and Drawings
Most high school athletes haven’t yet learned how to watch games without a coach’s guidance. They view the clips as a fan would, following the ball and waiting for big plays. They haven’t yet learned the nuances of effectively scrutinizing the action.
So help them out—leave comments and drawings that point out specific things you want them to keep an eye on. The more detailed nuggets you leave for them, the more they’ll learn.
“Kids are obviously on their cell phones the majority of the time, so being able to send them individualized feedback between games and practices is huge,” Marshall Cho, the head basketball coach at Lake Oswego High School (Ore.), said. “You’re able to have a back-and-forth dialogue that goes beyond the basketball court.”
“I can just tag it, circle it and draw a line to what space on where I want him to stand. That visualization tool, there is no hiding from it. The film doesn’t lie. For the kids to be able to see that is huge.”
It often doesn’t make sense to send the same message to the entire team. Each position has unique responsibilities, so sending everyone the same plays might not be very effective.
Instead, tailor what you send to specific groups or individuals. Create playlists to specifically address what that position needs to work on.
“We make up different playlists for the players that we can share,” Gordon Eck, a football coach at Lancaster Catholic High School (Penn.), said. “The kids are watching the film and on Friday night when they see that formation, they’re already expecting and thinking, ‘All right, their best play out of this formation is this, so I’ve got to be ready for that.’ Being able to tag and sort with all the data is great.”
Get the Most out of Practice Time
You don’t get much time with your players, so maximize every minute. Send video depicting what you’ll walk through in practice tomorrow so the players will have an idea of what to expect.
Instead of having to waste valuable practice time explaining those sets or schemes, the athletes will be up-to-date and you can jump right to executing the action.
“We tape all the practices and then we mark them up,” Jason Johnson, the football coach at Penfield High School (N.Y.), said. “By the time the players come to practice the next day, they’re all responsible for 20 minutes of film work prior to. What we try to do is emphasize, ‘Let’s not be out at practice for three hours. Let’s practice for an hour and a half, two hours max, then you’re responsible for the next 20-30 minutes.”
Not only does this make for more efficient practices, but it limits the wear and tear on their bodies. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a player to injury, and the season takes a toll on their bodies. Giving them more mental reps through video will help keep them fresh.
“With Hudl I don’t have to get a kid to pound his head into another kid 80 times to get 80 reps,” Johnson said. “I can have them do it 10-20 times, and then they can watch it and create muscle memory through that. With all the research about the impact with the head and neck and spine, it reduces a ton of that. It reduces the hits and creates muscle memory.”
Share the Good Stuff Too
Video has tremendous power as a corrective tool to show athletes where they went wrong. But it’s also important to shine a spotlight on their positive moments. This boosts confidence, rewards positive behavior and helps build your relationship.
As the season progresses, compile playlists of skillful moments to share. This simple act can go a long way in helping build rapport with your players.
“More positive vibes,” legendary volleyball coach Terry Liskevych said. “I would say, ‘Look, there’s another way to coach. Don’t scream at me. I know I made a mistake, so let’s find a way to correct it.’ Positive corrective feedback, especially when linked to video as a visual tool, which is how most people learn, that means you can always do it.”
For more helpful coaching tips and tools, check out our coaching resources.