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 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.
A well-made highlight video has the ability to get you on a college coach’s radar and can be the reason you receive a second, more in-depth evaluation. Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem: getting footage and editing that footage into an eye-catching reel can be extremely difficult for a lot of families.
So, they turn to companies that can do it for them. Some companies film and edit, and some only edit. Some are team-based subscriptions, while others offer one-off packages. The point is: there are a lot of options out there, including not picking any of them and using your own software to edit your video.
If you’re not really sure which strategy is best for you, here is more information about each to help you make your decision:
The DIY Route
Many families choose to make their own highlight videos, and companies like Hudl and Krossover are their go-to platforms because they already host a video content library and provide editing software. However, these companies are designed for teams, and their main objective is to allow coaches to review and analyze film. Creating a highlight reel out of that film is just an added benefit.
Therefore, you can’t purchase an account; your team needs to purchase a subscription, which can cost $800 to $1,300 per year. Plus, not all sports are affiliated with these companies; football, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball teams tend to be the most common users.
The more time-consuming, cheaper DIY option is using your own software on your computer. iMovie, Adobe Movie Maker, and Windows Movie Maker can all get the job done. You just need to know which plays college coaches want to see and best practices around creating a highlight video, which means you’ll need to do a little research.
Read more: How to put together a highlight film
Of course, if you don’t already have film and you still want to keep your project DIY, you’ll need to go out with a teammate or parent/guardian to get some footage.
Read more: A quick parent guide to getting quality video for a highlight film
“Despite what you may think, filming is not a difficult thing,” says Aaron Graunke, head of the Video Department at Next College Student Athlete. “The two biggest challenges for families are: the parent wants to watch the game as a fan and not as a videographer, or they don’t have the right equipment, like a tripod.”
There are many sport-specific companies that provide filming and editing services. They tend to be event-based, and film on location. Here are a few popular examples:
- Baseball Factory (https://www.baseballfactory.com/): They host tryouts and player-development programs across the country, and during registration, you can choose a premium package for up to $400 that includes certified video.
- Stream Sports (https://www.streamsports.com/): This soccer-oriented company films at tournaments across the country, and if your entire team goes in on the cost, the price can be as low as $9 per player to receive their footage.
- BallerTV (https://www.baller.tv/): Basketball players can sign up for a subscription with BallerTV to access their video library and download footage and order clips. A membership with five downloads cost $90 billed yearly.
- Next Level Video (https://next-level-video.com/): From $250 to $400, lacrosse players can purchase a highlight video package from Next Level Video, a company that films tournaments and creates highlight videos for families.
If you already have film and are just looking for an editing service, Next College Student Athlete edits more than 40,000 highlight videos every year. NCSA is the largest recruiting network that connects student-athletes with college coaches, provides an a la carte video option in addition to recruiting memberships. For $149, you can submit as much footage as you like, regardless of length, and the NCSA video team will professionally edit your film.
Additionally, Graunke points out there are several regional companies that providing filming or editing services for families. “Google: ‘Sports highlights’ in your area,” he says. “You’re likely to find a number of small companies that will do it for you.”
No matter the option you choose, you want to make sure you’re paying for a reputable service. Here are a few tips to help you get the most bang for your buck:
- Do a background check. The company should know your sport and how to film and edit for it. There are certain nuances of the game they may not catch if this is the first time they’re working with your sport.
- They use a tripod. All games should be shot using a tripod. This is a must. A shaky video is worse than a low-quality video.
- They don’t have add-on fees. Do a little digging to fully understand the cost. For example, some packages will limit you at 20 highlight clips, and if you send in more, you need to pay an extra $100. Or, some companies may force you to pick which highlights you want edited and will require you to fill out a video log, instead of analyzing your film and compiling them for you.
- What is the turnaround time? Some companies, like Next College Student Athlete, return video between 5-8 days, while others may take up to 4 weeks. And some companies will charge extra if you want your video back sooner.
Whether decide to pay for your highlight video or make it yourself, it’s worth it.
“Think of your highlight video as a movie trailer—its purpose is to make a great first impression,” Graunke says. “It’s not the end-all-be-all, but it’s a door opener for many student-athletes.”