A quick parent guide to getting quality video for a highlight film

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jaimie Duffek was one of the top 50 high school softball players in Illinois who went onto play outfield for Drake University. Jaimie is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.


When it comes to athletic recruiting, looking good on paper is one thing but looking good on video is essential. It’s true college coaches need to see test scores and transcripts, but NCSA research shows that student-athletes with an online profile are 12 times more likely to get viewed by coaches when they have video.

The reality is that most college coaches simply don’t have the time or the travel budget to go to every school, tournament, camp, and showcase. Coaches need online video to make their initial evaluations of athletes. From those initial evaluations, they decide how to spend their limited recruiting budget to make in-person evaluations.

At Next College Student Athlete, we review and edit thousands of highlight videos every year. We also work with college coaches and get their direct feedback on what they are looking for when it comes to watching recruiting video. The good news is that coaches don’t need a lot of video to make an initial evaluation of your student-athlete. They only need about 5-7 minutes max. That video doesn’t need to be SportsCenter quality but should meet some basic production criteria.

The following tips will help you get the quality highlight video need.

Before the season starts, talk to your coach about team video

More and more high school and club teams are filming every game and even practices.

So, before you invest in any equipment, check with your coach on the quality and availability of team video. The team have all the footage you need to create a solid highlight video.

After talking with the coach, if you feel the school or club doesn’t have adequate video resources, you’ll want take on some recording duties yourself.

Before the game, decide your role: Parent or Videographer?

Parents often struggle with the desire to just sit back and enjoy watching their son or daughter play and the urge to capture as much live footage as possible. That’s why it’s a good idea to decide your role prior to the game. If you know weather conditions are going to be bad or the opponent’s gym is cramped and dark-these might be times to just cheer on your student- athlete.

When conditions are more ideal, you’ll want to have your equipment ready to go and arrive earlier to stake out a good vantage point. Remember, your focus shifts from cheering supporter to objective videographer. That means keeping your eye in the viewfinder, and keeping your cheering, coaching, and play-by-play commentary on mute.

Other helpful advice on getting the quality video you need includes:

Camera Placement: Good video starts with a good angle

Every sport, and every position has its sweet spot for video. Volleyball for example, you want to be filming from behind the player at a distance where the coach can see the entire court. NCSA does provide more detailed, sport specific video guidelines here. As a very general rule, it’s better to be set up in the middle of the court or field at a point higher than ground level.

Record the Play, Not the Player

Coaches like to see your child’s performance within the game situation. Zooming in too close doesn’t give the right perspective. Just make sure the video is in focus and you’re close enough to the action to clearly identify your athlete and to see the action. You can add a highlight spot or an arrow so a coach can easily see where to look–just don’t stop or freeze the action during the play. Use the highlight before each play begins.

Keep it Steady

Speaking of zooming–Needless zooming in and out is just as much of a distraction as a shaky camera. Follow the play, and avoid any unnecessary or shaky movements. Investing in a or borrowing a tripod is a good camera move. The quality of your video will immediately improve. Tripods are available for smartphones now for less than $20.

Keep it Simple

Coaches watch a lot of videos. A lot. Adding music and special effects aren’t necessary. They require additional time and effort and won’t help your cause. In fact, it may even hurt it. Keep the videos simple and focused on your child’s athletic performance.

Practice Makes It Easier and So Does Asking for Advice

Like any other skill, shooting good video takes patience and a lot practice. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a camera, you want to know it’s functions as well as its limitations. Also, practice filming practice so you get used to following the flow of the game. Also, don’t be afraid to ask other parents or photographers for advice.

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