More Than a Chore: Creating a Culture Where Athletes Crave Video

Some athletes view video sessions as a nuisance they must endure to get to the games, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how to get your players to embrace video.

More Than a Chore: Creating a Culture Where Athletes Crave Video

Some athletes view video sessions as a nuisance they must endure to get to the games, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how to get your players to embrace video.

There is no debating the power of video, and its role in all sports only continues to rise. Coaches recognize the value of video sessions and have made them a regular part of their team’s workflow.

But video goes to another level when the athletes themselves see how much video can help to the point where they crave it. Some video sessions and take-home playlists feel more like meetings or homework, something that must be endured to get to the payoff of playing games.

The key to truly maximizing video is getting your athletes to buy into it. Imagine if your players not only tolerated video, but actually looked forward to it and actively sought it out. How impactful would that be?

This is a reality for some coaches who have managed to create a culture that has athletes eager to devour video. We have some tips on how to get your players to that level.

Show Them Why It’s Important

You won’t get anywhere if your players don’t think they need video. You have to get them to understand that video isn’t a nuisance and that it plays a critical role in making both themselves and the team better.

Show them specific, relevant examples of how video and the insights it uncovered previously helped the team. For example, if you discovered a hole in an upcoming opponent’s defense during scouting and that affected the game plan, share that with the athletes. Did you score a big win over your rival last year? Show the players exactly what you saw in your scouting leading up to the game that caused you to make certain adjustments that pushed them to victory. Bringing the tangible benefits to life will show them how big of a competitive advantage that video can provide.

Share examples from college and professional teams. Once the players see their heroes buy into video, they’re more likely to follow suit. Just listen to how former USA Basketball assistant director BJ Johnson, now with the Brooklyn Nets, describes the video habits of the world’s best players.

“One of the things I’m most impressed with on our national team, LeBron, Chris Paul, is how they see the game and how they study the game,” Johnson said. “Don’t just think you can go out and work on skills for a few hours. These guys spend hours, not only on the court working on their skills but also the mental part of it, which is through watching video.

“Understanding offenses and understanding situations - that can only be done by studying the game and watching video.”

Make It Easy for Them

The easier a task is to do, the more likely someone is to do it. This is especially true for young athletes, who combine limited attention spans with busy schedules.

So help them out. In the beginning, create playlists for them that highlight the things you’re trying to teach. This is a breeze with Hudl - simply clicking on a stat pulls up all the video relevant to that number. This allows you to simply and efficiently compile clips that athletes can watch in their spare time. You can also make comments or use drawings to further drive home the points you want to emphasize.

It’s imperative that you teach athletes to watch video as evaluators, not spectators. Watching video isn’t something that can be done while texting or scrolling through Twitter. It requires acute attention, and if approached with intense focus, will provide a great payoff.

Hold a quick learning session at the beginning of the season to show them how to filter through the video and find those critical insights. Educate them on specific things to look for so they can break down the game in the right mind frame instead of simply watching like a spectator. Teach them how to use the stat tools and which numbers are most relevant to their games.

Allowing them to create their own playlists saves you time and gives the players more incentive to spend time with the video - they’re watching what they picked out, making the video feel more like a partnership instead of something you assigned them.

Flip the Classroom

From high school to professional leagues, coaches at all levels have started letting players run some of their video sessions. Giving the athletes ownership over the process drives home the importance of video and gives them ownership of the process.

The coaches identify a few team leaders, give them a tutorial on running video sessions, then let them address the team without coaches present. It allows the speakers to develop themselves as leaders and provides a different voice to break through the monotony of the season.

While not every team has leaders ready to step up to this extent, allowing players to conduct video sessions can be beneficial on several fronts. Players relate to each other more easily and are willing to listen to their peers. It gives the team leaders a voice and can inspire confidence in them.

Identify a few candidates that you think lead the team well and gauge their interest in running a video session. If they’re game, give them a crash course on the tools and some tips for keeping the viewers engaged. Then let them run a meeting with you present and provide feedback afterward. If the reaction is positive, consider continuing or even expanding those leaders’ roles.

Feel free to empower athletes by giving them particular areas of the game to watch. For example, assign a player to watch your upcoming opponent’s tendencies on 3rd-and-short plays, then incorporate their findings into the game plan. Or give a player video of the player they’ll be defending next game and have them come up with specific plans to defend them one on one. The players will feel ownership and reap the rewards of their work on game day.

Video doesn’t have to be a chore. It should be viewed just as any other part of practice, as an opportunity to improve. Get them excited about improving and your program will reap the benefits. Don’t have Hudl? Now’s the perfect time to get started.

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