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college recruiting video tips

How to Make a Quality Highlight Video

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

While a highlight video isn’t a substitute for seeing you play in person, it’s a great way to convince the coach to come see you play. When sending a video to a coach you’re just trying to distinguish yourself as someone to be sought out.

Highlight videos are useful, but often overrated. Whether or not you make a video usually won’t make or break your campaign. It’s just another tool you can provide to help the coach make an informed decision.

A Bad Video Won’t Help You Make Any Headway

Many of the videos coaches receive are low quality anyway. Some videos look like they’ve been filmed during an 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 to watch.

If you can’t make something decent, don’t waste your time or your money. If a coach requests a video and you can’t provide a quality example, find a way to provide something basic.

When you share a video with a coach, make sure it’s easy 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

Professionally produced videos are great, but what matters the most are athletes who show the initiative, creativity and wherewithal to make a video on their own. Anyhow, the $500 you drop on a production company could just as well be put toward buying digital video equipment 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.

Camera Angle and Zoom

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 screen. Find the happy medium that best showcases the highlight you want to feature.

What to Put on Your Video

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 or silly, 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 videographer provide 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, show the video clips in context. In other words, don’t just show yourself making a good pass. Show the buildup 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 10 minutes. Watching such a video is a waste of the coach’s time; he or she will lose interest quickly.

4. Length

A highlight reel shouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. Run-of-play videos can feature 10- to 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 needed.

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 footage when you’re not on the field. Keep the total running time under an hour.

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