Newly appointed athletic director Jameson Pelkey sat down with his lacrosse coach John Pynchon to find out if video analysis was giving his teams enough bang for its buck. Pynchon’s response? Unequivocally, yes.

As an athletic director, a lot of my time is spent trying to make my coaches’ lives easier. One way I do this is by getting them the tools they need to do their jobs. And checking in to make sure the tools we’ve added are working well. 

I recently spoke to our head varsity lacrosse coach John Pynchon about how he, our assistant coaches, and our student-athletes utilize video analysis. 

Preseason Prep

To help get everyone back into the swing of things at St. John’s Prep (Mass.), Pynchon will use video playlists to put a few clips together from previous seasons, showcasing our core offense, defense, clearing and riding packages. He’s found this to be the best way to get everyone focused on the same thing during the first couple weeks of the season. And that’s installing our program’s system. 

“We’ll spend a day or two looking at clips of our offense, defense or rides/clears,” Pynchon said. “Some are clips that include mistakes and others are clips that show proper execution of our system.”

The team goes over these during preseason film review, which starts two weeks before the regular season begins.

Season Grind

Our lacrosse team, like most I'm sure, pretty much uses video every day once the season is underway. They start by meeting for daily film review.

St. John Prep's lacrosse team uses video review consistently to teach players how to improve.

First Pynchon goes over a few clips of what the team did well or needs to work on. Then he switches it up. For the past few years, he’s set quotas for individual film review, making it part of their team goals with "I commit to..." vocabulary. 

As players watch the film from practices and/or games on their own, they know to come to film review ready to discuss two or three clips that stood out. Pynchon then asks them to lead discussions around what they picked up on. 

The assistant coaches handle one-on-one and get specific with positional group discussions. They review the game film, make comments, then share those clips with the players. Then they do the same to prepare for upcoming opponents. 

Of all the lacrosse positions, Pynchon has found that face off men and goalies benefit the most from individual film work and game preparation.

“Face off technique is very specific and repetitive. Unlike other lacrosse positions, face offs have set moves and counter moves that can be used. Film is a great way for face off men to study their own technique and make subtle adjustments as needed.”

Midseason Adjustments

One of the best advantages to using film? It’s probably one you’ve heard before—film doesn’t lie! Our head coach stressed the value of being able to analyze their film and use what they learned to their advantage for the second half of the season.

"The film study we did between games was a major part of our success in the playoffs.” John Pynchon, St. John's Prep

“Using reports, we like to see when and where we are scoring goals or giving up goals,” Pynchon said. “We also look at turnovers in a few ways, caused, unforced, etc.”

The coaches self-scout, then generate reports off of that data to show the team areas where they could improve. And this all happens before playoffs begin. 

“This past year, we won a really close game 8-7 over a rival team to end the regular season. When we went back on film, we were able to identify some mistakes we made and some things they were doing against us that we struggled with. We ended up playing them in the sectional semifinals two weeks later and won 12-7. The film study we did between games was a major part of our success in the playoffs.”

Pelkey took over as athletic director at St. John’s Prep on July 1, 2019. He joined the staff in August 2006 as an assistant varsity football coach, became a staff assistant in the athletics department in 2007, and was named assistant athletic director for grades 6, 7 and 8 in 2015. A native of Barre, Vt., Pelkey holds a B.S. in sports management and an M.S. in athletic administration, both from Endicott College in Beverly, where he was a three-sport athlete.