Posted On October 13, 2010 by PUSC
By Ramona Barber
Ramona Barber is the Iowa State Youth Soccer Association Education Director and a contributor to Sports Communication Publications
“One picture is worth a thousand words!” So, how much more is a video worth? Quite a bit to some college coaches. Sooner or later, players investigating college soccer programs will probably be asked by a college coach to send a videotape. Putting together a quality video takes time and thought. It can also be needlessly expensive. Cost can be kept to a reasonable level if parents on club teams work together to collect video footage. Ideally, teams should be encouraged to begin collecting video footage when players are in their sophomore year of high school. A special effort should be made to tape games against strong opponents. It is a waste of time and money to tape games with mismatched opponents. Players should also have themselves videotaped while participating in other soccer activities like Olympic Development, high school games, international travel tournaments, three-on-three-tournaments, specialized clinic sessions, etc. Be sure to have a tape of a training session available because it is not unusual for coaches to ask for one. By the beginning of their senior year, players should have access to various kinds of footage that shows their soccer skill level and playing ability. The footage can then be adapted and personalized to meet the requirements of individual college coaches.
Never send an unrequested video to a coach. Not all coaches accept videos. Coaches of some of the more prominent college soccer programs discard hundreds of unsolicited soccer videos each year. Don’t waste time and money preparing a video that won’t be seen. The lower a school’s recruiting budget, the more likely the coach will request a video. A low recruiting budget is not necessarily a sign of a second-rate soccer program. Often, schools with lower recruiting budgets are using their money to develop their academic programs. Investigate all the colleges that interest you. When you have identified the schools that you like most, contact each coach by letter or phone and ask if he would like to receive a video. Find out exactly what type of action he prefers to see. Ask how long the tape should be. Some coaches have very definite ideas about how much time they are willing to invest in video watching. If a coach wants a game, send a video of a game. If la coach wants skill practices, send footage of skill practices. If he wants highlights, give him highlights.
If a player has collected various kinds of video footage between his sophomore and senior years, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to edit the material into two or three different video segments. Most coaches request one or more segments of three basic types – an unedited game, action highlights or a combination or action highlight and training sessions. Coaches do not expect polished, professionally edited film. It is important that the individuals who video have above-average ability to capture player movement. If the footage is of low quality, don’t include it no matter how wonderfully you played. Coaches get frustrated watching poor quality tapes. Some players can put together suitable videos in their own homes using their personal video and/or computer equipment. Players who don’t have the equipment or aren’t comfortable editing their own videos can look in the yellow pages under production services and find a competent editing service. Individual freelance photographers, the type that cover weddings and special events, are often much cheaper than corporate-oriented video services and can do a very satisfactory job. Before hiring a professional, be sure to ask about his experience filming athletic events. Ask to see some tapes that he has done. Remember that colleges often tape many of their athletic events. Check with local college athletic departments to see if they may have staff willing to hire out to do athletic filming. On very important events, like regional cup competitions, do not rely solely on a professional video service. Encourage parents to also shoot their own footage. The more angles and the more film shot, the more options players will have when they begin to edit film.
Be sure that each completed video cassette is clearly labeled with the player’s name, address and phone number. Don’t make the mistake of labeling only the box that holds the cassette. Cassettes can easily get separated from their boxes. At the beginning of each taped segment, include a verbal mention of the player’s name, address, uniform color, uniform number and position on the field. If the color or number of the uniform or the player’s position changes between segments of the video, verbally note the changes. At the beginning of each segment, also note when and where the action is taking place and the level of the competition of any game footage. No coach wants to see a blowout game. Showing play against weak opponents can even hurt your cause. Don’t worry about showing footage of games in which your team has lost. The coach is interested in your performance, not in who won the game. Make sure that all footage is clear and visible. Never give editorial comments like “This was a great game which I single-handedly won!” Coaches feel that they are smart enough to understand the video with out a play by play description. Don’t include footage from before the end of your sophomore year. Especially don’t include footage of you as an eight-year-old playing soccer for the first time. The coaches want to see what you look like now. They don’t care how cute you were in elementary school. Make sure that you have footage of your movement both on and off the ball. Most coaches want to see views of the field as opposed to isolated shots of the player. Goalkeepers especially are often asked to provide footage of training sessions. Try to start the tape with an impressive piece of footage. You have no guarantee that coaches will watch the whole video. First impressions count!
Realize that most coaches receive a large number of inquiries from players who are not seriously interested in their program. In order for a coach to take a player seriously, the player must convince the coach the he is sincerely interested in the coach’s program. After a coach indicates that he want a video, make the most of the opportunity. Remember, the key to an effective video is personalizing it for the coach. A coach will be pleased with that player who makes a special effort.