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CaptainU Recruiting: Video

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Before you’re offered a spot on a college team, the coach will usually want to see you play in person.

While a highlights video isn’t a substitute for seeing you play in person, it is a good way to convince the coach to come see you play. In sending a coach a video, you’re just trying to whet his appetite—to distinguish yourself as someone he should seek out.

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In having your play evaluated, highlight videos are useful, but overrated. Whether or not you make a video usually won’t make or break your campaign. It’s just another tool that you provide a coach to help him make an informed decision.

Many of the videos coaches receive are garbage anyway. Some videos look like they’ve been filmed during a 8.3 earthquake. If it’s not that, often the quality of the video is so grainy that players are little more than blurs on the screen. Some are sleep inducing. Others are downright painful.

A bad video won’t help you make any headway, so unless you can make something decent, don’t waste your time or your money. If a coach requests a video and you can’t provide something decent, let him know — or, better yet, find a way to get him something basic.

If he insists on a video, send him what you’ve got, maybe with a little disclaimer. Let him know if you feel that what you’re sending is inadequate and doesn’t do your play justice. At least he knows what he’s getting into.

When you share a video with a coach, make sure that it’s easy for him to figure out who you are on the screen. Include your uniform number, provide some play-by-play commentary, or find a way to highlight yourself on the video itself.

Homemade vs. Hollywood

I’m not a big fan of professionally produced videos. I prefer it when athletes show the initiative, creativity, and wherewithal to make a video on their own. Anyhow, the 500 bucks you drop on a production company could just as well be put towards buying a digital video camera of your own.

Kudos if you choose to do your own video. Working side-by-side with a friend can make it fun. Personalize your video as you see fit. Soundtracks, for example, are a nice personal touch.

Digital Video Makes it Easy

Digital video makes it ridiculously easy to make a clean, quality video. If you have access to a digital camera and a tripod, have someone film a game or even a practice. Find a computer with movie software and edit your video.

Camera Angle

When filming, the camera’s distance from the field or court is very important. Super close-ups don’t show the context in which plays develop. Excessively wide-range shots come across as one big smudge on the TV. Find the average.

What to Put on Your Video

Better, more enjoyable videos start with a brief, personal introduction and an explanation of how the college coach can identify the recruit in the video. After that, it’s on to action footage.

1. Introduction

Take a minute at the beginning of the tape to introduce yourself. Speak clearly, confidently, and enthusiastically into the camera. Don’t be afraid to distinguish yourself from the pack with a few personal details like, “My favorite animal is the green kangaroo,” or “I am an avid collector of beetles,” or “I like the sound of subway brakes.” Be enthusiastic and willing to smile. Athletes tend to be soooooo serious on their videos. You don’t have to be giddy like the local weatherman, but coaches want real, vibrant, dynamic people.

2. Identification

Figure out how the coach will be able to identify you on the screen. Your best bet is probably your uniform number if it’s legible. Use subtitles to make it clear where you are on the field. Beyond your uniform number, mention the position you play so the viewer knows where to look. You might also have the filmer give some play-by-play commentary to help clarify where you are.

3. Action Footage

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the actual content of a recruiting video. Most coaches prefer edited clips. Yet there are a few who like to watch recruits’ games in full. If most of your candidate coaches are asking for a short highlight video, you’ll know which format to use. You can also be diplomatic and incorporate elements of each.


If you choose to do a highlight reel, make sure the video clips are shown in context. In other words, don’t just show yourself making a good pass. Show the build-up to the pass. Employ the 5-second rule: show 5 seconds of play before and after the highlight. The coach wants to see how the play developed and how you were involved throughout.

If you have access to high-quality video in which you are easily distinguished and featured regularly, you might prefer to utilize a more free-running, extended play format. Run-of-play videos can incorporate anything from five-minute unedited clips to an entire game. Don’t show run-of-play action if you are only recognizable in the frame once every ten minutes. Watching such a video is a waste of the coach’s time; he’ll lose interest very quickly.

4. Length

A highlight reel shouldn’t last longer than ten minutes. Run-of-play videos can feature 10-20 minute uninterrupted spans, or last an entire game. Whether a coach will watch it all is another matter. But at least extended play is available if he’s inclined to watch.

If you use extended footage, provide a key that identifies you and your role at specific times on the video. Do at least a little editing, by cutting out footage when you’re not on the field. Keep the total running time under an hour.

Stay tuned for more of “Make the Team”, written by CaptainU CEO, Avi Stopper with #MaketheTeam

Create a free CaptainU profile today to get your college athletic search underway!

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