Getting a Head Start: Hudl at the Youth Levels

A Florida high school coach discusses the importance of youth football players using Hudl.

Getting a Head Start: Hudl at the Youth Levels

A Florida high school coach discusses the importance of youth football players using Hudl.

By the time a football player graduates from high school, he’ll likely have watched dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of video. Between game reviews, scouting sessions and individual study, video plays a major role in a player’s development.

But why wait until high school to begin the learning process? Is there an edge to be gained by training youth players to study video?

We got in touch with Chris Merritt, the head coach at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Fla., and a Master Trainer for USA Football, to get his thoughts on the added benefits of exposing athletes to Hudl and video study at a young age.

How do you use Hudl?

“Every single one of our plays is labeled, so we’re able to sort through formations. It’s much easier to show them what we want with the video as opposed to a piece of paper, a line and a circle. It’s more interactive for them. They can go through and teach themselves.

“Kids are such visual learners, and Hudl allows us to show the kids instantly what we’re talking about.” 

Merritt's Christopher Columbus squad entered the season as MaxPreps' No. 9 team in Florida.

How would you recommend youth coaches use Hudl to get prepared for the high school level?

“Just get them used to watching film. A lot of kids don’t know how to watch film. A lot of guys get caught watching it like they’re watching the NFL on TV. It helps them focus on their position and being able to eliminate everything else and not watch the play. They can just focus on their position and their responsibility. The younger you start getting kids to do that, the sooner they know how to watch film. A lot of times kids get used to just watching the play.

“With education going the way it’s going with the use of computers and interactive devices, I still think kids have become more visual-based learners. The sooner you can get kids on Hudl, the more success you’ll have communicating and educating kids.”

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When a player arrives at your school, can you tell if they’ve used Hudl before?

“We’ll have them bring their iPads and have them locate certain things. We’ll even get them involved in the breakdown of the video, and those are the kids that know how to navigate and go through Hudl.

“Every kid learns at a different rate, but when it comes down to watching film and where to go and what to look for, you can tell.”

How important is Hudl in teaching technique?

“It gives kids instant feedback for their performance before they’re even dressed up after practice. They’re able to have instant access to it. We can zoom in and focus only on them, and that’s such a key thing to learning.”

Is Hudl helpful specifically when teaching tackling?

“We feel that when a kid misses a tackle it’s for one of three reasons and we have to find why he missed it. Did he not break down? Did he take the wrong angle? Did he not finish? The kid is able to tag the reason why he missed that tackle. We’ll mark it on the film. We’ll look at all the missed tackles. If we have 30 missed tackles in a game and 22 came because we didn’t break down, we’ll review that next week. That allows us to make a playlist of the missed tackles so the kids can see why they were missing tackles and what we can do correctly and how we’re going to get that fixed the following week.”

What are some tips you’d give to a youth coach to get their players to the next level?

“Having a highlight film that shows what you can do to a high school coach is important. I think any high school coach, when it comes to looking at and evaluating a kid, would like to see what they can do.”

Ready to see how Hudl can help your athletes succeed at the next level? Get more information here.

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