Why Do Good Teams (and Players) Insist On Game Film Video?

If you’ve been around any competitive teams, whether as a coach, parent, or athlete, you’ve probably heard talk about game film video. Athletes are always talking about watching film after games or during the off season to prepare and to learn. But what is the point of game film? And why does it seem like every good sports team is using it?

What is Game Film Video?

To understand why good teams use game film, you first need to know what it is. Simply put, game film video is a recording of the game or sports event from optimal angles to allow for analysis and training at a later point. Depending on the sport, coaches may film the games from multiple angles or just one. The most popular angles to film from are the center line to give a good overview of the whole game and from the end lines to give a good view of scoring and defensive plays. While game film is most commonly associated with basketball and football, it can also be used for baseball, softball, soccer, rugby, dance, and any other competitive sport. While you could watch a whole game using the film, most often, coaches will use it to break down why a specific play didn’t work, how their team was or was not able to score or defend effectively, or to teach new plays.


Learning with Game Film Video

Using game film video for learning, whether it is learning new plays, correcting mistakes, or preparing for your next game, is probably the most common use, and the one that most people are familiar with. It’s what you see in movies and it is what you hear professional athletes talking about when they talk about game film. So how does learning with game film actually work?


Teaching New Plays

While everyone has a different way of learning, the majority of the population learns best by seeing how things are done. When teaching a new play to your athletes, it can be incredibly helpful if you can show them how to execute the play. While many coaches may use whiteboards, diagrams, or slow walkthroughs, the best way to demonstrate a new play is by having your athletes watch it successfully executed. If you have built up a game film library, you can pull out a clip of a previous team performing the play and allow your team to study it. Not only will this help them with the basics, it can actually tap into unconscious aspects of behavior. Science has shown that we tend to subconsciously mirror the behaviors that we observe in those we admire. If your players have the opportunity to regularly study successful plays that they are learning on game film video, the likelihood of them successfully executing those plays and performing better on the field or court increases dramatically. If you don’t have a game film library built up, you can also use professional games or other clips you find online. Many game film library services also have free games that you can use for this purpose.


Analyzing Games

If you are regularly taping your games, you have the resources you need to review individual and team performance and help your team correct mistakes or continue to perform well in areas that they do well in. If you are using multiple angles of video, this can also be helpful for analysis. With football, for instance, game film can help you see if players are being positioned on their line effectively, or if there are things they can work on. In the middle of a game, it can be difficult for a player to be aware of everything that is going on, regardless of the sport. At any given time, there can be anywhere from 10 to 22 players, plus referees and the ball to keep track of, depending on the sport. That’s a lot going on, and most players choose to trust their team and focus just on their role. While this is great for the game, it means that sometimes they may miss something that could improve the team’s performance. Reviewing game film videos can help with that. 

Watching game film video with your team allows you to remove the emotion from your analysis. If there is a play that went wrong or something that was missed, you can sit down with the players involved and watch what happened. Then, talk through what was going on in the moment, what went right, and what didn’t. When a player can clearly see what happened, removed from the emotion and adrenaline of the game, there is a much higher chance of them being able to fix it. The change in perspective can also help them analyze how their actions interact with the rest of the team. Each of these sessions should include some coaching on what should have happened, and then running that play on the field to help them apply the corrections immediately, if possible. These corrections and learning opportunities are a huge part of what seperates a team that does well from a really good team.

Analyzing Your Competitors

Studying your opponents using game film video can be incredibly useful when done right. It isn’t enough just to look at how the other team lines up or what their favorite moves are. You and your team should be paying attention to those things, but you should also be looking at how they would react to your regular plays. If you can study their games and figure out how they are will defend against your plays or get around your defense, you have a better chance of reacting to counter that. This requires careful analysis of film and paying attention more to the individual players than to what is happening with the ball.

In the end, how you do or don’t use game film video can be the thing you need to push your team to the next level. Using it effectively in coaching makes teaching new plays, correcting mistakes, and preparing for your next game easier and more effective in the long run.

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"When you are not practicing, someone else is getting better."

– Allen Iverson