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.”

Get Hudl for Youth Football

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.”