There are a number of considerations for a student-athlete to get right in order to put their best foot forward when it comes to creating a highlight video that is impactful. It can be a very important part of the placement process, especially in a situation where the college staff will struggle to see you in live play. Remember they will always prefer to get eyes on you live, if at all possible, so that should always be your first goal.
1. Why am I creating a highlight video?
Having a highlight reel that can live on your online platform is generally a smart move but remember that college coaches will always prefer to be able to see you in a live game scenario. So, do whatever you possibly can to make that a reality by communicating effectively about your upcoming schedule and opportunities where they may be able to see you play in a league game or tournament play.
If you are looking at schools that are geographically distant, then it also makes sense to have a video done that can be quickly sent to these colleges, so that they can get a flavor of what you are like as a player.
2. How long should my highlight video be?
College coaches are busy and they will appreciate candidates who are respectful of their time and make their job easier. If they receive video, they will want to see an “x-factor” pretty quickly. So, in general terms, don’t make your video too long or you will lose them.
A reasonable video length would be 4-6 mins but make sure that your first minute has something that will catch their attention.
3. Can I make my own highlight video?
It is vitally important that your finished product is of high quality. So, if you feel comfortable with your own videoing and editing skills, or if you have a friend or family member who has this level of expertise, then by all means have at it. You will need to consider the equipment you are using, the angle of where you are videoing from and the overall quality of the final product.
Having a highlight video completed professionally is another avenue to research but will obviously come at a cost, so do your homework on what the service will provide for you.
It is imperative that you can be clearly identified in each clip so consider how you are going to do that. It has to be 100% clear who you are in the footage! And try to avoid clips where another player steals the show!! You don’t want to be providing highlight reels for someone else!
Rule of thumb is that a college coach will want to see game tape vs training or anything else. So, no juggling clips of you in your yard please! For a GK there may be some value in having a portion of your video highlights showcase some specific skill sets in a quality training environment but they will still want to see the majority of your action in a game environment.
4. What should be on my highlight video?
You will want the first 10-20secs to clearly show who you are – name, nice clean headshot, or full body shot showing your shirt number, graduation year, nationality, position and contact information.
You will then want to consider that the first minute of viewing is likely to decide if they continue to watch to the end so aim to include some “wow factor” in your opening salvo.
The length should be around 4-6mins so you should be looking at approximately 20-25 individual clips of play. Typically, you will tape full games and edit them down to what you need. You can always keep the full game footage and have it ready to send on if there is further interest from the college coach after viewing your highlight reel.
Factor in the opponent you are playing against and the quality of the surroundings. They will want to see you in a competitive and appropriate environment. Consider this when deciding what footage you are going to get in the first place. Beating up on weaker opposition doesn’t show them a lot about who you are as a player or person.
Use clips that will have specificity to your particular role. If you are a Goalkeeper, don’t just show clips of taking goal kicks and punting. Incorporate shot-stopping obviously, but also dealing with crosses from both sides, setting up from set plays, and even some evidence of you being a leader for your defenders. Try to let the college coach see a well-rounded player.
If you are going to use music, be careful not to include any that might offend. There will a range of attitudes from college coaches on this but to be safe, keep it neutral if you decide to add anything. They are not watching the video for the music entertainment value!
5. When is the most appropriate time to make a highlight video?
Starting to understand how the process of creating a highlight video can start as early as freshman year. Maybe it is something that you want for your own performance needs or you want to be able to send some footage to family who don’t normally get to see you play. So, beginning early can help you to understand the process, navigate some of the idiosyncrasies and perfect how you want the finished product to look.
Certainly, in your sophomore, and particularly in your junior year, you need to be getting the best footage you can in order to compile the most effective highlight reel that you can. So, look at your schedule in advance and try to figure out which will be the best games to video, whether in league or tournament play.
Updating your footage online is a smart idea and will allow you to have another reason to reach out to a college coach. Being cognizant of times in the year when college staff might have more time to view video is also a smart idea. Sending them video in the middle of their season will likely not see it viewed. Having something that could be sent towards the beginning of the spring season, and then again, middle to end, would be a reasonable approach.
6. What should I do after sending my highlight video to a college coach?
As with all communication with college coaches, you will need to follow-up appropriately in order to get their feedback on you as a player, which will then allow you to evaluate where that particular school falls in your overall plan.
You should also look to build your own online platform and content and simply update your video highlights as you move your way through the process. Finding reasons to continue to reach out to college coaches, maintains your connectivity, shows them that you are genuinely interested in their institution and hopefully leads to a successful resolution for you in your recruiting process.
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