As more teams embrace the combined power of stats and video, video coordinator jobs have emerged at a growing rate. The quest for any edge, no matter how small it may seem, is a never-ending one, and organizations are truly beginning to grasp the value that video coordinators bring to the table.
Despite the growth of the profession, actually locking down one of the coveted positions remains a battle. If you want a seat at the table, you’re going to have to fight for it. It’s going to take a blend of skill, determination, persistence and luck.
But, according to several video coordinators we’ve spoken with recently, the trek up the mountain is well worth it. We reached out to them to get their top tips on snagging a video coordinator gig.
One of the most overused cliches in job searches is, “It’s all about who you know.” This line holds a good deal of truth, but simply having a stocked Rolodex isn’t enough. You have to build relationships with those people and prove your ability and work ethic.
Take the advice of Teddy Owens, who spent six seasons in various roles at Oklahoma State and Nebraska before landing the head coaching job at Carrollwood Day High in Tampa, Fla., this offseason. Owens used his connections to originally become a graduate assistant under then-coach Lon Kruger at Oklahoma State. Once Kruger saw Owens' talent and value, he recommended his assistant to Miles.
"I think you’ve got to put yourself out there, work camps, and meet as many different people as you can," Owens said. "Most people in the profession want to help other people. They might not always share all their plays, but I think for the most part college coaches and high school coaches who get it want to help people and they want to help the game.
In order to get coaches to stump for you to their peers (or hire you themselves), you must prove yourself worthy of that praise. Matt Reynolds, video coordinator for the Boston Celtics, makes a point of arriving at the facility before the coaching staff each morning so he can be ready for them. They depend on his early reports, and he delivers.
Prepare for the unexpected. Days rarely proceed exactly as you planned when you wake up, so set yourself up for any surprises.
“There are always predictable and unpredictable aspects to your workflow,” Reynolds said. “Whether it’s a game day or non-game day, you have no idea how the way that the last game played out is going to affect what you do on a given day. That’s the nature of the business. Every day is different.”
Don't Be Afraid to Start Small
Most aspiring video coordinators have dreams of nabbing a lower-tier job with an NBA or Division I squad and working their way up the ladder. While this road map is certainly possible, it’s not the only path available.
You will likely have to start at a lower-tier college to get your foot in the door, and you may have to do it for little or no money.
“It’s all a part of the process and all part of learning how bad you really want this,” Weston Strayer, the Assistant Director of Basketball Operations at Radford, said. “You have to have a great support system around you to help you through it, because it is a great commitment and it’s hard to know that sometimes you’ve earned a master’s degree and I’m watching friends blowing up in business jobs or doing other things, and sometimes I feel stuck behind. But it’s all about keeping your eyes on the big picture and knowing that you’re working towards that goal.”
But no matter how small your role might seem, getting involved in meaningful ways and making your coaches’ lives easier will earn you experience and the respect of the coaching staff.
"Just put yourself out there, take risks, take some jobs that maybe don’t pay a whole lot," Owens said. "Just do whatever you can do to get in, whether that’s high school on a freshman or a JV team. Just get your foot in the door and prove yourself.”
Find Your Niche
Try to find something specific that you bring to the table better than anyone else does. It will build trust amongst the coaches and increase your value.
Zak Boisvert did just this with PickAndPop.net. He found a niche by creating tip videos, play breakdowns and coaching edits. Once his content gained traction, he was wanted at speaking events and gained more than 5,000 YouTube subscribers.
Owens found his niche by creating in-depth, comprehensive player packets at AAU tournaments. That effort caught the eye of Miles, who was searching for a new member for Nebraska's administrative staff. Owens' hard work and ingenuity gave him a leg up on other candidates.
"I wanted to make an effort to be someone that would do anything and everything to help the program out," Owens said. "Coach Kruger was sitting next to coach Miles at one tournament and coach Miles said, ‘Hey, who makes these books for you?’ And he said, ‘My GA, Teddy Owens, does.’ And Miles said, ‘Would you mind if I talked to him about an opening?’ We started talking and had a lot of stuff in common. We kind of hit it off and he gave me the opportunity to come to Nebraska.”
Don't Limit Yourself
For many individuals, becoming a video coordinator is the destination of a lifelong dream. The responsibility of breaking down stats and video for the smartest minds in sports is a true honor.
But don’t shoehorn yourself into that role alone. Different opportunities can arise along your career path, and it’s important to position yourself as a versatile person who can perform a variety of functions. Keep your mind open to different roles, as they can not only open new career paths but also make you more attractive to potential employers.
This was huge for Strayer, who spent a year as an assistant coach at a Division II program before moving to Radford this year. He got experience in recruiting, marketing and sports information, experiences that greatly strengthened his resume.
“That helped to sell me to coaches in this next cycle, to be able to say, ‘I’ve done some of the things that most people who are looking at this job haven’t done,’” Strayer said. “It gave me a little bit of a leg up.
“If you can sell yourself on someone that you’re not one-dimensional, it really helps make you out as someone who can handle all these roles and help a program as a whole as opposed to just one specific area.”
The market for video coordinators is a crowded one, and the competition is fierce. But digesting and finding value in video is a labor of love. If you are truly invested in analysis, you won’t mind the long hours or low pay.
And the payoff, according to those currently in the position, is more than worth it. If you can develop trust, prove your worth and develop strong connections that will vouch for you, the opportunity to find a career exists. If you have any further skills or experiences you believe help in starting a career as a video coordinator, feel free to leave them in the comments below.