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Remote video coaching: so many reasons it’s great for athletes of all ages

Video analysis is huge for professional and college sports and now it is finding its way into youth sports, high school, and clubs too. But so far it’s mostly about game analysis – video sessions in classrooms. Most people don’t realize there’s a new way to use video for personalized coaching even in team sports. Players can have their ‘real coach’ coaching the team, PLUS a separate personal video coach. We’re not talking about the kind of skills coach that players get when they pay for professional one-on-one coaches. We’re talking about a coach to analyze training and games, and individual work separate from the team, and coach players on what to do to get better, including the mental side of the game.

In the old days, you’d need to have your personal coach in the stands and even at practices, spying on the whole team. But this is the age of video and phones and the cloud – YouTube and all that. Coaches can see players practice and play even when they live across the country or around the world.

Players have been making videos for recruiting for a long time now. So why not use the same technology while the players are developing, using video to get coaching tailored to the player’s needs, from a hand-picked personal coach?

There are a whole bunch of reasons why this is a good idea.

  1. It’s truly personalized training. If you send video to a coach, you’re paying for his or her time focussing on YOU. There’s a reason why pro teams have so many coaches: because only then can the players get specific things they can work on. On most youth teams there just isn’t enough time for coaches to spend time talking to and making notes for every player. Sure, it happens a bit, but it’s uneven and sometimes players feel their coach concentrates on other players. What’s better for an individual player’s development: listening to one coach tell the whole team 20 or 30 different things in a practice, or having a personal coach give the player 3 things to work on in training and try to put into action in games?
  2. The second reason is that it works better than coaches telling players what they did wrong. With video and remote coaching, the player can connect the feedback and advice to what is really happening so they understand how to play better. With video and comments right alongside, players truly notice and understand what they did and what they could have done.  If you do something in a game and then a coach tells you in the locker room after the game that you should be doing it differently, how likely is it that you’ll work on it individually and then remember that advice in a game? In fact, it’s natural for humans to not even recognize or admit that they’ve done something wrong. Seeing is believing; and improving. 

          Learn more on the WeVu for Athletes Page
  3. It’s recorded – it lasts. It doesn’t go away. It’s always available to the player to check and look back on. If the player gets frustrated about something, the coach can point out why it’s happening and can even point back to the same thing a few months ago. And that means the player can see the progress. You might hear: “Wow, ok, I look at early in the season where I wasn’t in the right stance defensively. My coach pointed it out and gave me a challenge to work on it. Now in these new game videos it looks like I’ve figured it out.” Think of what that progress does for a player’s confidence. That’s what Lindsay Huddleston of Sports Psychology Solutions has seen with the athletes he coaches.
  4.  Everyone needs a second opinion. (Even Stanford’s Health Care system offers remote second opinions!)  Team coaches that keep a totally open mind about players’ development are a rare breed. It’s natural human psychology to put people in boxes and then interpret what you see to confirm how those biases. But when you send video to a coach somewhere else, who has no connection to your team, you’re getting a fresh set of eyes. It’s like sending MRI results to a radiologist in another city – maybe they will see something that the first doctor didn’t, or maybe just start in a different part of the image and put the pieces together to form a different conclusion. There’s even a college basketball scout named Norm Eavenson that bills himself as a second opinion.
  5. It actually teaches you how to learn. Taking feedback in a positive way and really having it sink in so that your actions are affected is surely one of the most important skills in life. Education experts call this “reflective practice” and it’s now a thing in athlete development. When we’re coached in person, in real time, our defenses go up and our minds play all kinds of tricks on us because we’re social beings and we don’t like disapproval. That’s all different when you’re interacting with a qualified, experienced, positive coach online. The time and distance you have to digest the advice and try to improve patiently over time is a really valuable lesson in how to learn. It carries over to school and work and everything else.
  6. The coach can assign online videos or film their own demonstrations for you. All that can happen in the same platform where you are uploading your video. Coaches can make a comment and link to a video of a pro player or a coaching resource video. That’s better and cheaper than watching a coach demonstrate in person because you can replay it over and over and compare it to what you’re doing now.
  7. It’s better value. Remote coaching costs less – here’s why. Let’s face it, you can only improve a few things at a time. Working in a concentrated way on one or two things is the most effective way to improve. So you only need a coach to pick out those one or two things and then go work on them. When the coach doesn’t have to travel and spend lots of time with you, you won’t pay nearly as much as you would in person. Coaches can watch the film and make their comments right in an online video platform from the comfort of their home, so when they spend half an hour with your film, you pay for half an hour of their time. Remote coaching has already hit the big time in fitness coaching, as this article in Shape magazine shows.
  8. The coaching is more accountable, so you’re more likely to get good stuff from your coach. Online coaches who don’t give productive, actionable feedback won’t last long – their reviews won’t be good. And athletes aren’t stuck with a coach; they can move on if they’re not getting what they need.
  9. Use these videos for recruting. Coaches at the next level don’t pay much attention to a mixtape you edited with all your highlights. Eventually they want to see the real you, making bad plays as well as the highlight reel stuff. Why not show them the real you, with coaching points, and how you’ve made progress. That’s what they really want: someone who cares about learning, puts the effort in, and can really learn from what coaches are pointing out.

You probably have another reason. Let us know in the comments below.

Coming Next: Part II – How to use video for remote coaching

We (of course) think WeVu is your best bet for ​remote coaching.​

How to organize, share, and discuss videos in groups

YouTube is amazing. It is a big part of the rapid transformations in how we communicate with each other in the modern world. Imagine if you met someone under 80 who didn’t know what YouTube was!

The problem is that YouTube is so dominant – and free – that people are trying to use it for more than it is designed for. It’s the obvious choice for sharing video privately because you can leave the video Unlisted, accessible by people who have the link. So you can share video privately by sharing a link in your group – on email or Facebook or whatever. [Fun fact: You can do this in Dropbox too, but for Basic (free) plan accounts you can only stream the first 15 minutes of a video.]

But there are some serious problems with using YouTube like this.
There are better alternatives that we discuss below.

There are so many kinds of groups that might want to share videos privately.

  • Sports teams wanting to share and discuss training and game footage
  • Teachers wanting students to watch and engage with video
  • Creative teams wanting to comment on drafts of videos and images
  • People in the arts and crafts filming themselves to get remote coaching
  • Musicians that want to critique their performances together
  • Businesses that want to record their employees’ performance to make sure they’re doing things right and provide coaching so they get better
  • and lots more…

We see at least three problems with using YouTube to share videos.

First, it’s not really all that private because if the link gets shared just a little too far, and then those people share the link, you’ve lost control and your only option is to take the video down. Maybe it can be posted again with a new link but then the cycle might start all over again.

Second, it’s cumbersome to keep multiple videos organized for the group. People often resort to another tool to store the links, like Facebook or Google Sheets. One high school basketball team, for instance, had a shared google spreadsheet with the names of the games they had played and a column with the link to the appropriate video. If you have a larger group with sub-groups, like teachers with groups in their classes, this gets really clunky and takes a lot of effort by the organizer. You can use YouTube Playlists, but you’ll have to provide a link to each one if your group wants to have multiple videos in multiple lists.

Third, while there are comments allowed on YouTube videos, they are only general comments, not tied to specific moments in the video. And they just appear in the chronological order they were made, so they’re not great for a group that wants to discuss what was happening and particular times in the video and have a dialogue about that, back and forth, asynchronously.

The solution  to these problems is to use a private video site that lets you import YouTube videos, organize them by putting them in playlists or assigning them to subgroups, and allows commenting and replies tied to specific moments in the video.

Here are some tools to do this (jump down to our recommendation):

  • Vimeo lets you do this. But you can’t import video directly from YouTube. And the timeline commenting is only available in the Pro version, which is $20USD/month for 3 users or $50/month for 10. Not really affordable for the kinds of groups that will be needing to store video on YouTube.
  • is a nicely design video review app for creative industries. You could get a Pro account at $17/month and then have unlimited ‘reviewers’ so everyone in the group could watch and make comments. But they can’t upload their own video to the site or import from YouTube.
  • Ziflow is pretty similar. $18/user/month but you can also have unlimited reviewers with that one $18/month license. And same problem here: reviewers – group members -- can’t upload their own video to the site or import from YouTube.
  • Lumière is another one, designed for entertainment market research. You could use their free version, import YouTube only, and you’re limited to 25 people in the group. But their interface is really nice and even has pointers to spots on the video as well as timeline comments. The drawback is that those users don’t have accounts: you’re still just sharing a link even though it’s a Lumière link and you can put a set of videos in each ‘Activity’ that you share.
  •  VideoAnt was made by the University of Minnesota and still works, hosted free. It does have user accounts, connects to each user’s YouTube account, and has time-specific comments and replies. It even has groups. Not a bad solution at all. One disadvantage is that you can’t group videos together into playlists or assignments that your group members have to do. If you were running a pottery class and had students video themselves, upload to YouTube, and import to VideoAnt, your student videos would just be a jumble of videos on your catalog page in VideoAnt.
  • LookAt is another video review tool with pricing similar to Ziflow and
  • Dropmark might work. There’s a free version, which lets you bring in videos and other links, but to use it with a group you’ll need the Team plan at $5/user/month. And it looks like the commenting isn’t time-specific.

but our recommendation is...

We (of course) think WeVu is your best bet for sharing video privately, organizing the videos, and having discussions around them. WeVu is really free. All users get one free site where they can import YouTube and Dropbox videos. That WeVu site can contain multiple playlists and groups. You can invite as many users as you wish – up to 1000 per site. And best of all, when you log into WeVu you’ll see your own site and any other sites that you have been invited to. So you can be a site owner in control of one site but also be a member of other sites.

Video for Music School Teaching and Admissions

HOW THE UBC SCHOOL OF MUSIC Amplifies Learning and Simplifies Auditions with Smartphone Video

The University of British Columbia’s School of Music used to do a lot of its administration and teaching using paper and email. Painful. The worst part was all the WAITING AROUND for students and teachers, waiting to practice, perform, and give feedback.

Traditional ways of teaching and working were wasting people’s time and students weren’t getting the learning benefits that are possible with some affordable technology. Now that students can record great video and good audio anywhere on their phones, learning and auditions have changed at UBC.

Music students, perhaps more than any others, need to observe themselves and reflect on their playing, singing, and musicianship. But in the ever-increasing rush of student life, faculty were noticing that students just weren’t reflecting carefully on their practice. It was into one class and out the other side, without reflection time and crucial one-on-one teaching time. When students and instructors tried to take the time to do so, it involved taking notes and using paper-based self-reflections or email feedback. It couldn’t be shared easily and students didn’t look at it more than once. Sometimes it became apparent that a student didn’t actually believe the teacher’s critique of some aspect of their playing! The School realized they needed a user-friendly video recording and feedback system.

The Problem

After sitting down with UBC Music’s Director of Bands, Professor Rob Taylor, we heard about a number of drawbacks to traditional text-based communication – paper and email — in music education. But there didn’t appear to be an obvious, affordable, viable solution. First, it was difficult to find an easy, standardized way of recording student rehearsal both in and outside class. Professors and students thought they’d need sophisticated camera equipment or at least a DSLR. Then there was the problem of how to share the video between professor and student. USB drives weren’t practical. Uploading to YouTube had its security and privacy issues and then the professor would have to deal with a bunch of indistinguishable YouTube links. Even with a recording, students’ paper based self reflection was not as fruitful as Taylor expected. Dr. Taylor told us: “I was pretty convinced that [students] weren’t actually watching the videos, or at least, they weren’t watching as carefully as they should. They would recall the live feedback they’d received in class that day and regurgitate those critiques on paper as their “self-reflection.” This was not a problem we wanted to leave unsolved.

Taylor told us the School had another problem: Video auditions from around the world. The School wanted to be able to recruit from anywhere. For a while, applicants would send in DVDs and CDs. Then, with YouTube, they could get recorded and send a link. But organizing all those links and getting them to faculty for review was cumbersome and unreliable.

The WeVu Experiment

To address these issues, the School turned to WeVu, a video platform with easy uploading, organization by classes or by instrument/section for auditions, totally flexible permission for viewing videos, and commenting on the timeline of the video.  Taylor set up his Conducting course so all students could see each other’s practice, but other professors set up their courses so only the instructor, TA, and student can see a given student’s videos. That solved the sharing problem perfectly.

They realized they could record the conducting with any camera or any smartphone. That was a real breakthrough, as students could record themselves privately or help each other to do so – inside or outside class and the school! The school bought a couple of good microphones for phones to lend to students.

Finally, they needed a way to replace paper- or email-based commenting, coaching, and self-reflection. According to Taylor, the software “allowed [instructors] to respond right at the key moments to what they see in the videos rather than watching the whole thing at once and then writing up a reflective statement afterwards. Now that the students write responses on their individually recorded videos on WeVu, right on the timeline of the video, I’ve seen a complete change in the level and quality of reflection that they produce.” WeVu’s time-stamped comments and discussion added more depth and students really do watch their video – it becomes very difficult not to engage in deep self reflection when every second of one’s playing can be addressed and scrutinized. And as much as anything, Taylor could make sure students were reflecting on their practice because he could see the comments they were making, anytime, from anywhere.

How it Works is a simple, affordable web application that allows students to film themselves on their phone or laptop and receive incredibly detailed feedback. Time stamped comments from faculty diagnose performance down to the second. In addition, your activity on WeVu is centralized, secure, and LMS-compatible. The software seamlessly integrates to your current curriculum and will make make learning more efficient.

The Result

We asked Rob Taylor what effect WeVu had on his UBC conducting students when it was all said and done. He told us “It’s had an incredibly positive effect on my classes and it’s revolutionized the School of Music admission process. There isn’t a lot to worry about in terms of student reception, because they actually find it way more intuitive than we do thanks to all the different technologies they use on an everyday basis. I think it’s a really powerful tool.”

Adding Value to Music Programs: WeVu for Auditions

In addition to revolutionizing the way UBC Music conducted homework and assignments, WeVu has big implications for music admissions. Music schools miss out on top talent if they don’t accept video auditions. In person auditions are just too expensive for some schools and lots of students. As the race for student talent becomes increasingly international and competitive, schools need to expand the scope of their admissions and accept video auditions. But how? WeVu streamlines the application process for the performing arts by collecting students’ videos, transcripts, and recommendations and centralizing them in a secure online hub. The applications can be shared to groups of just the right faculty members who can easily comment on the auditions and score them using the same WeVu technology. Check out our Music Applications animated video here.