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The film doesn’t lie

Coaches and athletes alike use video these days more than ever before

Posted: August 1, 2009 9:35 p.m.
Updated: August 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Video is as an important part of sports – and not just the flashy SportsCenter stuff.

Athletes and coaches are using film in various ways to get better and to even promote themselves.

Jordan Adamczyk, who entered his first season as Canyon High’s starting quarterback last fall with little fanfare, used video to improve his technique all season.

“It’s very important,” he says. “At the quarterback position, most of it’s just passing, but in game film you can see your technique and it gives you a better look at what you’re capable of.”

Adamczyk ended up throwing for 2,622 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he still flew under the radar of college scouts.

So he did something about it.

He wound up sending more than 75 DVDs to schools in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) and Division II.

Valencia softball coach Donna Lee, who has sent numerous players to Division I colleges, believes that sending out videos is one of the best approaches.

“You have to sell yourself,” she says. “There are so many colleges out there. The videos help the kids that are good but maybe not on a well-known travel team.”

Softball and baseball coaches study the mechanics of their players on film, and according to Lee, hitting is the main focus in softball.

“What we do is we look at their hands when they hit the ball well in comparison with a game where they go 0-for-4,” she says. “We normally see it even if they don’t.”

Meanwhile, Hart boys basketball head coach Tom Kelly uses video to scout his opponents.

All the other coaches in the Foothill League, he says, rely heavily on video in preparation for games.

“We use it incredibly,” he says. “If you just go scout without film, all you can do is write down tendencies and things like that, and (the players) don’t really visualize it. They’re not going to understand the offense an opponent is running unless they see it.”

Like other sports, Kelly uses video to improve the mechanics of his basketball players.

“If we want to show our kids how they’re shooting the ball, we’ll film kids in intervals and break it down,” he says. “Then we’ll give the kid a copy and say, ‘This is why you’re having trouble shooting.”

Technique study and video packages helped Adamczyk land a scholarship at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision.

But the DVDs he sent weren’t just highlights.

“Most kids just put highlights,” Adamczyk says. “You also need to put game film, because anyone can make a highlight film.”

Adamczyk sent two complete game films, which Brandon Huffman, the West football recruiting coordinator for Scout.com, says is important in analyzing a player’s potential.

“Some plays are highlights, then the very next play they’re making a mistake,” he says. “I’m looking for consistency of play. I’m looking for areas of improvement that guys need to make.”

Because there are so many players and so many games every year, recruiting outlets like Scout.com and Rivals.com rely on video more than they ever have.

“There’s a lot of little things that you can pick up by watching film that you can’t get unless you sit down and watch it live,” says Jeremy Crabtree, national recruiting coordinator for Rivals. “(Film) is still the No. 1 tool utilized by college and pro coaches.”

In a normal week during the offseason, Huffman says he gets anywhere from 20 to 30 DVDs, ranging from Pop Warner athletes to high schoolers going into their senior year.

He watches every single one of them.

He also recognizes that athletes use video in different ways in the recruiting process.

“Some athletes watch video of other players, and in a sense, they use it to downplay their own ability and improve,” he says. “Other guys say, ‘This guy’s got X amount of offers and I don’t have any, and I’m just as good.’ So they sell themselves more.”

Other athletes use video to promote themselves online.

Some athletes, including former Saugus quarterback Desi Rodriguez, have their own Web sites that feature highlight films.

Rodriguez’s Web site is run by his father, Sergio. Desi committed to the Air Force Academy last January.

“The general experience is that the ones who do that extra promotion aren’t as good as they think they are,” Crabtree says. “But there are great examples of kids who got their video up and it helped them generate more recruiting attention. You can find those types of players now through the internet.”

That wasn’t as feasible a decade ago, but video has become a big part of athletics.

Kids improve their technique through film study off the field, and the coaches and analysts study those skills on the field.

“The old adage is that film doesn’t lie,” Crabtree says, “and we love watching game film on players because we see them at their best and at their worst.”

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