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. Joe Leccesi is a former college athlete and coach at the NAIA level, where he earned an NAIA National Championship. Joe 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.
With winter break just a couple weeks away, the holiday season is a great time to work on your student-athlete’s highlight video. Whether you need to create your first video or update the current one, a well-crafted highlight video can be a highly effective recruiting tool. According to NCSA research, student-athletes with a video on their online profile are 12 times more likely to get viewed by coaches. Plus, throwing together a new video gives your child a great reason to email coaches and continue the campaign to get on their radar.
Before you start, keep in mind that different sports require different types of videos. In-game highlights are essential for recruiting in sports like football, volleyball and soccer. Baseball and softball coaches, however, want to see footage that focuses on technical skills and drills. No matter your sport, we recommend that recruits update their videos every six months. To make sure your video shows off the best of your student-athlete, follow these five important steps.
Take advantage of technology
In the world of sports video technology, Hudl is leading the way. In fact, most serious high school student-athletes include a Hudl link in their Twitter bio. Hudl Focus, the software company’s latest product, is a smart camera that switches on automatically, tracks the play from multiple angles and uploads the video directly to Hudl. Before you go out and buy equipment, check to see if your school or club team is using Hudl Focus or another method to film games and practices. After talking with the coach, if you feel the school or club doesn’t have adequate or reliable video resources, it might be time for you to take on filming duties.
Keep it short and simple
How often do you click on an article and close it after skimming the first couple paragraphs?
Coaches try to watch as many highlight videos as they can, but they sometimes only make it through the first 20 or 30 seconds. To stand out right away, include your athletic and academic info including your jersey number in the first few seconds of the video. Then, jump right in to your best highlights. While video editing should be simple and straightforward, it can be helpful in some cases to add an arrow or another indicator to help coaches keep track of your student-athlete.
Your entire video should be no more than 3-5 minutes long. And since most coaches watch highlight videos on mute, there’s no need to add dramatic music or special effects. Never lose sight of the goal. You’re not entering a film festival—the purpose of your video is to grab the attention of a college coach.
Plan video shoots to perfection
College coaches don’t expect your video to be SportsCenter quality. But shaky, blurry or grainy footage isn’t doing you any favors. Get to the game early to stake out your spot. Try to get as close as you can and find a place with a clear view of the action. Whether you’re filming with a smartphone or a video camera, invest in a tripod to minimize shaky or blurry footage. Resist the urge to zoom in and out—this can be just as distracting as a shaky camera. And if weather conditions are unfavorable or your opponent’s gym is dark and cavernous, you might be better off packing up your video equipment and just watching the game.
Stockpile as much footage as possible
You can never have too much video. The more games and skill sessions you record, the better your chance of capturing highlight-reel plays to include in your student-athlete’s video. Even losses and poor performances can include a few diamonds in the rough. As you film games and start to pare down clips, always include footage from before and after the play. College coaches don’t just want to see your child drain a three-pointer–they also want to see your child’s off-ball movement to get open and how quickly they hustle back on defense after making the shot.
Reach out to parents and professionals
You don’t have to do all the filming and editing yourself. Never be afraid to ask teammates’ families for footage or video advice. Even if you record footage at every game, another parent might capture your child’s big play from a better angle. And if you can’t make it to a game, plan ahead to make sure someone is in charge of video.
Once you’ve got plenty of good footage, you’re ready for the all-important (and time-consuming) editing process. While coaches generally prefer simple, no-frills editing, a professional videographer can quickly turn disorganized raw footage into a cohesive sequence of highlights. As part of our recruiting service for student-athletes, NCSA’s full-service video editing team offers professionally edited video highlights.