There is an old saying, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Keep reading if you want to play softball at the next level, because first impressions are vital. They often prove the old adage about second chances right.
Do you have a skills video? If not, you might want to read this article twice. Then hustle off to the field with camera in hand.
It is important to understand that college softball coaches want to see a prospective student-athletes skills video before they start recruiting them. That first impression could kick start inner action between prospective player and potential future college coach.
Videos are a vital part of the recruiting process. Repeat: videos are a vital part of the recruiting process. Contrary to popular belief, coaches do not have unlimited time and resources for recruiting. Thus, the video is the next best thing. Do not underestimate the value of a skills video.
That being said, your skills video could get your foot in the door. Or never get it opened.
Here are some good tips for producing a skills video.
Introduce Yourself - Coaches need to know who you are, what position you play, and when you graduate in the first few seconds of your video. That’s called your opening. Remember, this is an evaluation video, so you want to show a little personality, but be serious as well. Find a quiet area (empty dugouts usually work) and make sure you have plenty of light. Don’t spoil your introduction in a noise or poorly lit area.
Length Matters – Shorter is better is what coaches tell us. They don’t need five minutes of film to evaluate your skills. A good guide is 90 seconds and certainly no longer than three minutes. If it is too long, they WON’T watch it. They want to see each skill -- throwing, hitting, fielding, pitching, catching, running -- you do. Don’t do the same drill over and over. Coaches generally know within the first 30 seconds if you have what it takes to play at the next level.
Quality or Clarity is Important - The better the quality, the better the first impression. That said, smart phones and GoPros do excellent jobs these days and get better all the time.
Show your Skills - If it only takes the first 30-seconds for a coach to see your ability, always start with the strongest part of your game. If you pitch or have a strong arm, show it off early in your video and show it with a radar gun. Get to the good stuff making that first impression quickly.
Angle Views are Important - An impressive skills video should have multiple angles of each skill. Softball pitchers should have multiple angles of their pitching fundamentals including from the catcher’s view, a couple of close-ups, from behind the pitcher and from the side. This enables coaches to see an athlete’s form from several positions.
Make the Skills Video Accessible for viewing - The point of a skills video is to make it quick and easy for coaches to see your skills. A video that is easy to upload or view (YouTube as an example) has a much better chance to be viewed.
Thank the coach - Wrap up your video and make sure you thank college coaches for watching your video. They took the time out of their day to watch your skills video, and it’s common courtesy to acknowledge that. It’s always good to do the right thing.
Your goal is to make a good first impression. You might not get a second chance. If your skill levels are ready to be recruited, don’t send a video just because a coach has asked for one. If you are a pitcher and throw 56, don’t send your pitching video until you’ve upped your speed. If your overhand throw is soft, don’t send it just yet. Up your speed. If your swing is off-balance ... work on making it better before making that video.
Remember, your goal is to make a good first impression.