The Recruit­ing Equa­tion: Remov­ing Luck with Video

For­mer Cal defen­sive spe­cial­ist Erin Free­man reflects on seiz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty in recruit­ing through video, and how video can pos­i­tive­ly impact performance.

The Recruit­ing Equa­tion: Remov­ing Luck with Video

For­mer Cal defen­sive spe­cial­ist Erin Free­man reflects on seiz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty in recruit­ing through video, and how video can pos­i­tive­ly impact performance.

For for­mer Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-Berke­ley stand­out Erin Free­man, a defen­sive spe­cial­ist for the Gold­en Bears from 2010 – 2012, get­ting an oppor­tu­ni­ty to play at the next lev­el when she was in high school almost felt like a bit of an acci­dent. Cal was actu­al­ly watch­ing a play­er on the oth­er side of the court at a tour­na­ment,” said Free­man. Basi­cal­ly, they saw me on the oth­er side and got kind of excit­ed about me.

That’s not the real­i­ty for most peo­ple — being at the right place at the right time. There are so many fac­tors that impact the recruit­ing process and you don’t want to leave it to chance.”

Using Video to Break the Ice

Free­man was offered a spot as a recruit­ed walk-on the fol­low­ing week­end when head coach Rich Feller came to a tour­na­ment to see her play first­hand, but times have changed since Free­man was a recruitable ath­lete. The process of recruit­ing occurs ear­li­er now than ever before, and it’s impor­tant to uti­lize the tools you have at your dis­pos­al. Oth­er­wise you might get left behind.

You want to take con­trol of your recruit­ing process.”

Hudl gives you the abil­i­ty to hone in what’s impor­tant for you as a play­er and also as a stu­dent,” said Free­man. You can reach out and con­nect with those coach­es on a much more per­son­al lev­el than if you were just send­ing them a blan­ket email with­out a high­light video or with­out footage. It puts a face to your name, it can excite them and make them respond.”

Your first point of con­tact with a col­lege is like a first inter­view for a job — you want to grab their atten­tion while por­tray­ing the kind of per­son that’s going to be join­ing their pro­gram. It’s more than just blast­ing your resume out and hop­ing some­one will respond. You want to take con­trol of your recruit­ing process, and what I love is that this puts the own­er­ship on the play­er for them to real­ly think about what’s impor­tant for them and to go down that road,” said Freeman.

You can take the own­er­ship, cre­ate your high­lights and find your best moments and this has all the tools you can use to do that.”

If any­thing, video can only help increase your expo­sure. For some it might be their ambi­tion to play across the coun­try, while oth­ers might be more com­fort­able stay­ing close to home. I grew up 30 min­utes away from Cal,” said Free­man. If you want to play some­where across the coun­try you have to use video to increase reach and get noticed.”

Fur­ther­ing Devel­op­ment through Film Study

Get­ting to col­lege is one thing, but excelling is an entire­ly dif­fer­ent beast. Freeman’s use of video accel­er­at­ed her devel­op­ment on the court as a fresh­man. And she had to learn on the fly — Freeman’s expo­sure to video was vir­tu­al­ly non-exis­tent in high school. All of a sud­den we’re watch­ing every sin­gle play and we have stats on every sin­gle touch on the ball,” said Free­man. Tran­si­tion­ing to digest­ing that infor­ma­tion and being able to use it is real­ly chal­leng­ing, espe­cial­ly in a quick amount of time. I remem­ber even scout­ing, I had no idea how to do that until I got there and it took me an entire year to fig­ure that out.”

For younger play­ers, it’s even more important.”

As a defen­sive spe­cial­ist, serve-receive is an essen­tial part of the game. As is often the case, Free­man relied on her ath­leti­cism to get her through her younger years. Once play­ers tran­si­tion to col­lege, how­ev­er, ath­leti­cism isn’t enough to get by. That’s when tech­ni­cal devel­op­ment is para­mount. When I got to Cal, one of my coach­es told me that my fun­da­men­tals were a dis­as­ter,” said Free­man. We spent so much time watch­ing how I was pass­ing and how I was mov­ing, which was real­ly hard at first, but once I got it because I had watched all that video it real­ly clicked and I could work to change.”

Her devel­op­ment by uti­liz­ing video helped her see the court her fresh­man year, and ulti­mate­ly led to get a piv­otal role dur­ing Cal’s run at a Nation­al Cham­pi­onship in 2010. The ben­e­fits of video are clear­er now for Free­man, and it’s use at low­er lev­els of the game is becom­ing more and more preva­lent. If you take a set­ter and imag­ine their line of vision, it’s going to push them, when they’re watch­ing this video back to actu­al­ly see how the defense on the oth­er side is posi­tion­ing them­selves,” said Free­man. For younger play­ers, it’s even more important.

They’re now aware of what’s going on on a larg­er scale and can bring it into their game in the moment.”