How to make great recruiting videos (for free)

Sending video is one of the best ways to get yourself in front of dozens of coaches. It’s also one of the easiest ways for a coach to see you play. Rather than boarding a plane, renting a car, and booking a hotel for a weekend of tournament watching, all a coach has to do is click a link and there you are!

You need to be seen

Coaches need to SEE you. By communicating with a coach in person or via email, text, or phone, you can build a relationship with a coach and help them to see who you are. Communication is vital, but it has to be followed up with a visual demonstration of your skills.

Playing live in front of a coach has no substitute. It’s an opportunity for you to show your energy, skill, and decision-making in person. It’s probably the best way for a coach to really see what your personality and communication style are like while you’re on the court. It can be an exhilarating experience as a player—it’s your chance to really shine and to perform when it really counts.

But not every coach can see you play live. Coaches live extremely busy lives and live recruiting is just one of their many responsibilities. Even when a head coach has a couple of assistants to assist in recruiting, they will have to prioritize which tournaments they can attend. Your dream school may only be a fifteen minute drive from where you play most of your matches, but your dream school coach will likely spend many weekends out of town trying to recruit the best talent nationally. You need to put together some film!

Recruiting film basics

There are two types of film. The first is unedited or lightly edited game film. It’s highly unlikely that a coach will have the time to sit and watch an entire match of game film, even if you are one of their top recruits. So why send them an entire match?

  • Sending an entire match shows that you’re better than just a few good plays here or there. It shows that you can perform well and consistently for an entire match. Most coaches aren’t looking for someone who can make spectacular plays once in a while—they’re looking for someone who is consistently good over time. Even if a coach doesn’t watch the entire match, you’ve sent them the message that you’re confident that you generally have a good level of play, most of the time (everyone makes mistakes and has bad matches, of course!)
  • Advice for sending an entire match of game film:
    • Start the film out with a slide stating your statistics for the match (hitting average, # of digs, blocks, kills, etc), who the match was against, and what number and color of jersey you’re wearing.
    • Wear something that makes you easily identifiable. Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of a player even when you know what number is on their jersey—if the camera is zoomed out or the video quality is poor, it can be difficult to tell who is who. With your coach’s permission, wear a bright colored headband that stands out from your teammates, brightly colored shoes, or something similar. This may sound silly, but I did this when I was putting together film to send to professional teams in Europe and it helped the coaches to identify which player I was at all times.
    • Lightly edit the video. This means taking out the time between games, timeouts, missed serves, etc. Coaches may not watch the entire video, but they’re going to watch more of it if you take out all of the time wasting stuff.
    • Send something recent—don’t send a match from 2 years ago, no matter how well you played. Coaches need to see how good you are this season.

The second type of film is a highlight film

  • Intro vs outro? Intro slide—name, height, position, age. Outro can be a video clip where you say a brief “thank you” for watching.
  • Include all of the major volleyball skills related to your position. For example if you’re a middle blocker, this should include tons of hitting, blocking, and serving. If you’ve got footage of yourself digging well, include it at the end. If you have footage of other skills, you can also include it, but make sure the focus is on the primary skills for your position.
  • What to NOT include in your film
    • Music. It’s very likely that the coach is already listening to their own jams and the music on your film will just conflict and distract, a coach may analyze one piece of your film several times and may not want to hear the same piece of music over and over again.
    • Pointers on what to look for and explanations of technique. I’ve seen this before on recruiting videos and I think there are few things that could be more condescending than telling a coach what they should be looking for in your film. Coaches are professionals who do this for a living—they’ll know what skills and techniques they’re looking for without your help.
    • Over-editing. Don’t pause the video part way through a clip or include tons of slow motion repeats of what a coach has already seen at full speed. When it comes to editing, less is more.

Stay on message

What message do you want to send coaches through your film? Don’t distract from that message! For example, if you want coaches to know that you have a powerful attack, include tons of clips of your best attacks. If your strength is that you’re a six rotation player with good all-around skills, make sure to include an equal amount of your best clips for every skill. Stay on message by including footage that reinforces your message and by avoiding editing that could potentially be distracting. Reinforce the message you want to send over and over again!

How to record your film

Don’t go out and buy the most expensive video camera available on the market. Ask around and see what options you have. You may not feel comfortable borrowing a super expensive video camera from someone else, but it’s possible that one of the parents on the team is already filming a lot of the matches and all you need to do is ask them for a copy that you can then go and edit.

Which angle to record from. You can record from the end line or the sideline, based on what is most convenient in your gym. The most important factors to consider are:

  • Is the referee or her stand blocking visibility of the court and the players?
  • Is the film zoomed out so far that it’s difficult to tell which players are which? Can I see detailed movements from each player?
  • Is the film zoomed so far in that I can’t see important playing areas of the court?

Get yourself out there!

 Gone are the days of burning your highlight film onto a CD and mailing out physical copies. Where many videos will be too large to send via email, the easiest way to share your video with coaches will be to post it on Youtube, Vimeo, or something similar. Be sure to post your video on a website that won’t require coaches to sign up for a membership to see it and be sure to email the direct link to the video to the schools that you’re interested in.

A big part of sending coaches your film is contacting them in the first place. Learn more about how to contact coaches.

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