Recruitment Videos (PSA)

As I put together the list of next year’s recruits, it means I’m watching a lot of recruitment videos. I remember going through this process with my daughter and worrying about how the video should be presented. As I go through other people’s videos now, I often cringe at some of the “mistakes” I see. With that in mind, and not being a recruit video expert, I decided to ask a number of West Region coaches what they dislike most in a recruitment video. Below, you’ll find some video “Don’ts” directly from the coaches that could be recruiting your athlete with some advice and maybe a story or two by me thrown in for good measure (yeah, I know I said I wasn’t an expert but secretly I am). I will also keep this up as a permanent page and add to it, as needed.

Update: Centenary tweeted out something that made me think of this post. I don’t cover social media in this post but there shouldn’t be anything out in the digital world that makes others think less of you if you want to be recruited. This covers your volleyball videos but IG and Twitter and TikTok need to be scrubbed (hopefully they don’t need to be). Are the pictures and language appropriate? Are you presenting yourself in the best light. Heck, is the email address you send to coaches appropriate?

Video Don’ts!

– The viewer can’t easily or immediately determine the recruit.

What is the purpose of the video? To highlight the athlete, right? So, why post a recruitment video where the viewer has to guess who the recruit is? This is probably one of my biggest frustrations when watching videos, too. Start off your video with a quick stats page that includes the recruit’s number. If possible, insert an arrow or highlight the player prior to each highlight. This becomes less important for setters and liberos but a definite must for hitter and DS positions.

Colorado College Coach Swan, “The most annoying thing with recruiting videos is when they don’t give you good information as to where they are in the video.

– The video doesn’t highlight the recruit immediately.

How much time do you think a coach has to view a video? Do you think it’s wise to have a highlight that includes a couple of rallies before your recruit even touches the ball? As someone who watches a lot of video, I’m looking for an excuse to watch the entire video or quickly get to the next recruit. This “don’t” is the biggest reason I go to the next video.

Pacific Lutheran Coach Aoki, “I hate to watch a game video and have to wait 5 minutes to watch the athlete touch the ball once or twice.”

– The best highlight is not the first thing on the video.

This is HUGE in my mind and completes the holy trinity of recruitment videos. Identify your recruit, make sure she touches the ball quickly and make me sit up in my chair when I see the first highlight. I had a coach recommend a change to one of their recruit’s videos I linked to last year so I watched it first. As I slumped in my chair and hit “play” I immediately said, “Whoa” after the first highlight and sat up straight. On the second highlight I was giggling because the recruit had just smashed a ball off the libero’s shoulder (I’m not proud of that reaction). I rewatched that sequence probably 5 times before watching the rest of the video. Don’t hide the big highlight in your video, the coach may never see it.

– A poor quality video.

This may seem pretty obvious, but it’s really tough to make out the action while watching a low quality video.

– Spending too much time on non-position related skills.

If your recruit is a middle or right side and half of your video is on service receive then you’ve gone off the rails a bit. Same with setters and liberos showing too much hitting. It’s fine to show this in small quantities but you want to highlight the skills required for the position’s primary function. One coach specifically mentioned too much serving as also being a problem.

– The video includes slow motion.

I hadn’t thought about this one until a coach sent it in but I do remember a video from last year that I immediately stopped when it had a slow motion highlight. If a coach wants to rewatch a highlight they have acquired the skill to work their media player to do this. Don’t force them to sit through a slow motion because they will either forward ahead or stop watching all together.

UT-Dallas Coach Allison, “The most annoying thing on videos is SLOW MOTION!” (Yes, the all-CAPS was exactly how it was sent to me.)

– The video includes music.

I love to hear volleyball noise when watching videos (all videos, not just volleyball videos). Music, on the other hand, makes me turn the volume off. Not a killer “don’t” but it doesn’t help anything.

Update to this item: I recently was watching a recruitment video, which had music. Music with some very interesting lyrics and words. To each their own but remember that anything you put on the recruitment video is like writing it down on a resume. I mentioned this to a coach who promptly responded that they wouldn’t have recruited that player. Why hurt yourself by limiting your options?

– You!

This last one is a good one that came from Pomona-Pitzer Coach Townsend, “Sometimes parents forget that when they are filming and, well parents, you are part of the recruiting process as well!”

Brilliant, right? I remember taking video at a club match and I just left the camera to run on its own. When I went back to splice up the highlights, I could hear two parents from our team bad mouthing our players and our coach. This went on for the entire game. Know what audio is being presented in these videos as a coach won’t know who is talking. Oh, and if you run into this…don’t hide it with music…just mute the volume!

Additional Thoughts

– You should have at least one video for highlights and one that is just continuous play (game footage).

The highlight video should be used to get the coach interested. It shows the best of the athlete and from that the coach can determine a best case scenario as to whether the athlete’s level of play will work for their team. It also tells them if they want to see more of your athlete (either through additional video or in person).

The continuous play video is also important because it tells the story of your athlete. More from Pomona-Pitzer Coach Townsend, “I do like to see highlights, but also think continuous play is important: how are you with your teammates; how do you respond to errors; what are your movements like on the court; how do you interact with your coaches [and their] feedback; are you too dependent on the coaches and what to do next (looking to the sidelines too much); how are you when you are on the sidelines? I like to see a little of all of it. Highlights let me see technique, continuous play lets me see personality, competitiveness, coachability and [what type of a] teammate [they are].”

– My personal reflections.

When my daughter finally decided she wanted to play volleyball in college I already had a lot of video on the computer. So, my first piece of advice is don’t be shy about taking video. I looked at a lot of video software and decided on CyberLink and it never disappointed. Since my daughter was a setter, the issue with finding her on the court was not really a concern. Still, I would always have text at the bottom of the video with her name and number because why not? It didn’t take away from the play and her name is the one thing I wanted the coaches to remember after watching the video. I kept the highlight videos relatively short while our continuous play video was more like 10 minutes (I only cut out the timeouts that occurred during the game). I used YouTube to upload the videos (highest quality possible) and then had the links available for the emails that my daughter would send. Did I make mistakes along the way…sure…but she still got recruited by a number of schools and ended up playing for a wonderful institution.

Some non-video advice would be to keep a sheet on your contact with each school. What did your daughter send out and what was received back. What type of response did she get would go on the sheet. The sheet actually helped with our selection as we got close to deciding when we noticed that the school she ended up attending hadn’t responded back to us for awhile. My daughter reached out one “final time” saying that she was disappointed but was moving on. The coach replied that they were not in the market for a right side player (again, my daughter was a setter). Long (no pun intended in a joke only I’ll understand) story short, the last tournament they saw of my daughter she actually played a game out of position at right side and that is what they saw. So, track the communication and keep that communication going.

One big mistake I saw a number of parents doing during our high school years was trusting that their club would get them recruited. Unless your athlete is top class then this isn’t going to happen. We never used a recruiting service so I can’t comment on them but frankly between my daughter and I we were able to handle things quite nicely. The big key is getting the athlete to determine what was important to them. Once my daughter decided that the academics was priority number one, the list of schools she would consider and the list of schools that she could play for became very manageable. We never factored in cost but that would have reduced the list of schools by a great margin (and cost did become a deciding factor in the end).

In the end, getting your athlete seen at tournaments when they are actually playing and playing well is the goal and although that sounds pretty simple my story about playing right side one game should dispel that notion. The story I’ll leave you with is my daughter was playing Tour of Texas her 17s year. Their team was playing a better team but took them in this particular game 33-31 (after being down 20-11). As luck would have it, our team ran out of subs so my daughter also played along the front and, with no bias on my part, played a tremendous game. Oh, and this was in front of a DI head coach, a DIII head coach and a DIII assistant coach all there to see her. This is the goal…and it all starts with communication and good videos. Best of luck!