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.