Video homework for youth sports: a practical guide
A few tech-savvy youth sports coaches have found a new way to use video to help athletes develop and perform better. You’ll find out what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, what technology they’re using, and get some tips on how to put it into action yourself.
- The What
Many youth sports coaches think of video the way the pros use it: for watching and analyzing games or performances. But most of us don’t have time for that and it’s not going to pay off in a big way for kids as they develop.
What most coaches haven’t realized is that they can use video – in particular their players’ phone video cameras – to assign video homework. Video homework isn’t what you might think. It doesn’t mean that athletes watch video and learn. (Kids generally won’t even watch what you ask them to watch.)No, the homework they can be doing involves repeated, focused practice on the technical skills they need in their sport. The video part is that they record themselves on phones and upload to their team site for the coach to
check that they’ve done it and, occassionally, provide pinpoint feedback. In doing so the athletes can get individual training that helps each one improve on her or his weaknesses.
Most important for the coaches, you don’t have to use precious training time to have your young athletes doing individual skills practice they can do at home. They’re only together at your team training time – so why waste time on simple, repetitive individual activities then?
- The Why
Athletes are always looking for ways to improve, and one of a coach’s most important jobs is to help them get better. Coaches tend to focus on areas of improvement needed by an entire team. This often leads to neglecting to develop each individual with the individualized practice that they need. This isn’t the fault of the coach. After all, coaches are dealing with 10, 15, 20, even 30 players at a time. It’ll take forever to go player by player and watch them practice and fix what needs to be fixed. With today’s technology however, coaches can find ways to help individuals more easily than they ever could in the past.
When watching film as a team or as an individual, athletes have a tendency to focus on their highlights and gloss over things that could be improved. However, though looking at highlights is necessary sometimes to boost confidence, athletes would be well served to work on areas of their game that they can improve. By taking a coach’s instructions and applying them to their training, an athlete can vastly improve their technical ability. Doing this through video homework is a time-efficient way of making this happen.
In the last decade, teams of researchers worldwide have looked at video feedback in sports. Their results have been unanimously positive in showing the benefits of the use of video to record skills practice. The biggest payoff for coaches and their players is that the coach can make sure the practice actually happens! Players self-record on phones and upload. It’s that easy. The coach only has to watch a fraction of it; just a quick glance to check that the player was doing the skill that was assigned.
Coaches and their players need a private site where video can be uploaded and organized. It’s a lot like video assignments in art schools or for business presentation training. The coach can define an Assignment – like bringing down a high ball in soccer, or bumping a volleyball, or a step-back move in basketball – and then players submit the phone-camera recordings of themselves to that electronic ‘hand-in box’. The coach can go through the videos super-fast, one-by-one, or just get a report that they’ve been submitted.
The next step, if the coach can take the time, is nudging the players to see what they’re not doing properly and gently asking them to try again. With some video platforms like WeVu, but not Hudl, you can be watching an athlete-recorded video, pause it by clicking in a comment box, make a comment that sticks right to that time and place on the video, and the video resumes. (That’s also awesome if you are doing game analysis!). Players really appreciate this personal touch. Players can join in and ask questions or respond to the coach’s pointers.
- How to get started
Start small. Think of the one individual skill where you think your players need most practice. Ask them to do it at home, at the park, in the gym for five minutes. And then another five minutes with their phone recording it. If you’ve got a WeVu site, you just send them the account creation link, they make an account, and they can upload the video right away. They can even have private vide
os just for their own review and decided whether or not to share them to the coach.
It’s great if the coach can take a peek at these videos before the next practice/training session so that you can encourage the players that their effort is great and will pay off on the field or the court!