Kill the Learning Curve: How Video Gets New Athletes Ready for Your Program

Roster turnover is a necessary headache for all coaches, but video can make the process easier to handle.

Kill the Learning Curve: How Video Gets New Athletes Ready for Your Program

Roster turnover is a necessary headache for all coaches, but video can make the process easier to handle.

One of a coach’s most difficult challenges each offseason is dealing with roster turnover. Between graduations and transfers, a roster can look drastically different from one season to the next.

While coaches should be flexible in making subtle adjustments to their playing style based on the athletes at their disposal, they also can’t sway too far from their core beliefs. This means younger players must be groomed to step into bigger roles vacated by graduating veterans.

Video can help shorten the learning curve. While athletes can’t fully adjust until they’re tested in live action, video aids them in making connections between what is needed from them and how they can use their skills to match that responsibility.

Have a Plan in Place

While each year will add new players to your roster and ask some to step into larger roles, they all should have a basic understanding of what your program is about and your overall expectations. From the moment an athlete starts their career on the freshman or junior varsity squad they should be learning the bedrock principles of your program.

Train your freshman and JV coaches on the foundations of your playing style so the message will be consistent from the moment freshmen arrive to when they’re depended upon for varsity minutes.

“We have a very consistent message. There’s a standard that we live by,” Tim Olszewski, the head girls coach at Howell High School (Mich.), said. “They find out very quickly if this is a place they want to be playing. We have high standards and we have certain criteria. Girls in our program know from the third grade what it is. We’re never lowering our standards. They’re going to be what they are. It’s up to the players to come up and meet those standards as opposed to us adjusting ours. My players know from elementary school up what to expect.”

“If you would ask all our kids from sixth grade through high school, most of them would be right on with what we’re about.”

Establish a culture of video early on. Players should be engaged with and watching video from the moment they arrive at your school. By the time they’re ready to play varsity, they’ll likely have years of experience watching and will know how to maximize their time with video.

Show Athletes Their Role

There are times when the production of a graduating senior simply can’t be replaced. Expecting a junior varsity player to inherit the same role as say, your program’s all-time leading scorer, isn’t fair. Neither is asking a defensive hound to develop a deadly 3-point shot like the senior he’s replacing had.

But often times newcomers inherit similar roles to the ones held by the players they’re replacing. By watching video of the departed athlete’s movements and responsibilities, they can gain a stronger grasp on what they’ll be asked to do.

“If Player B is kind of going to be in the role of Player A, who has graduated, you’re able to show that,” Brett Hilliard, the head boys coach at Hilliard Bradley High School (Ohio), said. “When Player A is a good player, you can say, ‘These are the kinds of things that you can learn by watching the film, areas of your game that need to grow as you develop into your role.’

“Most kids are visual learners and the film is a great way to teach. To be able to give them examples of past players who have done things well is a really, really powerful teaching tool.”

Have newcomers watch video of departed veterans during the summer and fall so when the season rolls around, they’re ready to hit the ground running. They’ll have a strong understanding of their responsibility.

Promoting players and rebuilding your roster after graduations is seldom easy, but video helps to simplify the process. It sets the standard for younger athletes and shows them what to expect as they move up your program’s ladder. See how video can speed up the learning curve for yourself.

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