MAKE YOUR VIDEO A GREAT MARKETING TOOL!

                                                                                            By Catharine Aradi


Almost all college coaches agree that a good skills video is very important to the recruiting process. (Now, more than ever!) 
Many, if not most coaches will want to see your video before they'll make an effort to watch you play in person or consider
you a serious candidate for their teams.

Fifteen to twenty years ago, players' videos were sometimes primitive, often "homemade," and the degree to which they
actually showed an athlete's skills varied greatly!  These days, that's changed. While some parents still shoot their
daughter's video themselves, there are also many companies that produce quality sports videos. Good editing has become
commonplace, and even non-professionals now have access to digital cameras and computer editing programs.  Players
can have their videos shot digitally and a resume, schedule and other information included.  Precision editing, slow motion
and freeze frames are just a click of the mouse away. 

For the most part, videos posted on YouTube have replaced DVD’s. Internet hosting eliminates both reproduction and
mailing costs. Coaches can simply go to the web-hosting page and search for on the video they want to review. 

But once you've decided to shoot a skills video, how do you make yours stand out? After all, the coach watching it may have
hundreds of other videos waiting to be screened. Believe it or not, special effects have nothing to do with getting you
noticed.  Obviously, you don't want a video full of fuzz, bad shots, and a coach yelling at you in the background.  Some
skilled editing is usually necessary. But the pounding music overlay and other cinematic wizardry won’t make a coach say, “I
want this player!”
 
My book, Preparing to Play Softball at the Collegiate Level, can help guide you through the planning and shooting process. 
You can also pay someone to shoot your video, although you don’t necessarily have to do this in order to get a good one. If
you've never done any computer video editing, however, I might recommend a good editor---e.g., one who knows how to
take the raw footage and cut it down so that it shows your skills effectively.  You can't send a coach 35 minutes of unedited
video.

But special effects and formatting aside, there is a key ingredient that many players leave out of their videos that has nothing
to do with their athletic ability.  That is their passion for the game.

Before you start, ask yourself why you are making a video?  Presumably, it's because you hope to play softball in college. 
Okay, why do you want to play ball in college? If you’re thinking about playing in college for the scholarship money or
because your parents or coaches want you to play, then perhaps you should focus just on college and not worry about
softball. You’re probably pursuing collegiate softball for the wrong reasons.

If, however, you want to play college ball because you love the game so much you can’t imagine not playing, your video
needs to show this.  When a coach watches your video, he or she should be convinced that you are really passionate about
softball!

Can I honestly say a video from an extremely gifted and athletic player who looks like she hates softball and everything
associated with it will always be compared unfavorably to a video from an average player who's having tons of fun?  No, I
can't.  But if I was trying to distinguish between ten similar videos, the video full of smiles and laughter and a person happy
to be at the ball park is the one I’d be more likely to remember.

A lot of players’ videos look like someone is standing just off camera with a shotgun pointed at the athlete’s head.  And,
frankly, between parents going buggy on you and you thinking if you’re not perfect on camera you won’t ever get recruited, it
can be very hard to have a good time out there.  (And now I’m telling you to have fun too!)

You can make a video whenever you want, but if you do one as a freshman or sophomore, you will almost certainly have to
repeat the process when you’re a junior. Nonetheless, whenever you film it, plan ahead and allow lots of time to shoot the
raw footage.  Don't show up after working the late shift at Target, and expect to get your video done in an hour.  Don't expect
to hit every ball over the fence, to never miss a throw, or to have every pitch be a strike.  Players should gently encourage
their parents to relax and try to do the same themselves.  Thanks to editing tools, you can take out the section where you fell
down--twice!  You can also remove the sound of your mom’s voice in the background going on and on about how you hit the
double that won the tournament last Sunday!

Editing forgives mistakes, dead time, balls in the dirt, and the ten minutes your dad spent screaming in pain after you nailed
him in the shin with a line drive. But editing cannot put a smile on your face.  Nor can it make you hustle and show coaches
how competitive you are and how much this game means to you.  That has to come from within.  If I could give you one
piece of advice on how to make your video stick with a coach long after he turns off the computer, it would be to play with
100% of your heart.

It's okay to giggle, to laugh, to be silly in your introduction or even on the field.  It’s possible to be intense and relaxed at the
same time.  It is not possible to be uptight and relaxed, and it’s not possible to be miserable and look like you're having fun
unless you’re an Oscar-winning actor.  So…if you can’t enjoy making your video as much you would playing in the big game,
maybe you should wait and do it on another day.  Or maybe you don’t really want to be doing this at all.  Remember, your
love of the game should be your best marketing tool! 

NOTE: If you're going to put lots of clips of your games on YouTube, keep them short, and set up your own YouTube page
so all the clips are located in one folder/site.  It makes it easier on coaches to pick and choose what they want to watch
without having to constantly search for you by name.