Video is always a valuable coaching tool, but using it to connect with players indi­vid­u­al­ly can boost its impact.

By now, the importance of incorporating video sessions into basketball practices is widely recognized. Today’s athletes tend to learn better visually, and showing has proven to be much more effective than telling. Kicking off a practice with video gets your players in the right mindset and ready to learn.

These team sessions are extremely impactful, but limiting video to group settings isn’t maximizing its potential. Sometimes having a one-on-one is the best way to really drive your point home.

Connecting with an athlete on an individual basis will improve your relationship, allow you to correct mistakes without the player feeling embarrassed in front of their peers, and help you to craft your message to that specific individual.

Personalize Lessons

Certain points are easier to hammer home in a one-on-one setting. You can teach specifically what they need to learn as opposed to addressing an entire group.

“That’s how most people learn best,” Jeff Brazil, the director of video and scouting for Arkansas women’s basketball, said. “You get to go in there with a coach and that’s just very important to developing a trust and a relationship with a player. You’re trying to make them better.”

Athletes learn better from seeing rather than listening. You can explain to a player what needs to be corrected, but actually showing them what they’re doing or what an opponent will throw at them is more effective.

Spending one-on-one time with athletes allows for better individual teaching.

Individual meetings also remove an athlete’s fear of being judged by their teammates. It’s just you and the player—no one has to feel like they’re being called out.

“I’ll bring a kid in and say, ‘I know I’ve been getting on you about this, that and the other thing, but maybe I need to show you the video,’”  Paul Romanczuk, head coach at Archbishop John Carroll (Penn.), said.

Develop Relationships

There is no better way to relate with athletes and get them to compete for you than making them feel valued. Seeing them as individuals lets them know you care about their personal lives as well as their development.

Simply sitting down with each player for 10 or 15 minutes a week, as Kevin Orr, head coach at Rice Lake High School (Wisc.), does, can go a long way in establishing the trust you need to truly connect with your players.

“If you can develop great relationships and really get into the heart of the athlete, they’re going to go through walls for you as a coach,” Orr said. “I think it’s important for your assistant coaches, too. At the end of the year my assistants and I will meet with players and we’ll show them positive things that they did. You also show a couple things that they can work on and get better at.”

It doesn’t have to be all about basketball. Discussing off-court topics can endear you to your athletes—they’ll know you care about them as a person, not just a player.

“You might just chat for the first five minutes,” Orr said. “Ask how school is going. How are things going at home? Then get into the film work. It doesn’t take that long if you’re prepped. It’s ten minutes of film and he’s out of there.”

Prepare Them Ahead of Time

To maximize every moment with your athlete, give them video to watch before your one-on-one so they know what you’ll discuss. The more prepared they are, the quicker you’ll be able to make your points.

Send the players specific clips, with your feedback in drawings and comments, so you can hit the ground running when you meet.

By annotating video clips, you can show your athletes insights even when they're not with you.

“They already know a little bit about it and when they come in with the coach it’s not something brand new where you’re just wasting time,” Brazil said. “They already have access to it. They can talk and give feedback as well. They already have an opportunity to watch it before they come in there.”

The value of team sessions shouldn’t be underestimated—they’re essential for preparing an entire group on what they’re going to face in an upcoming game or what needs to be fixed. But one-on-one meetings present a different dynamic and allow for more individualized feedback. You and your athletes can have real conversations that’ll help establish your relationship and accelerate their development.

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