Recruiting Videos: What to do and not do

The following post is courtesy of Coach Tom Houser.  

Coach Houser is currently sixth all-time in career coaching victories in Virginia with a career record of 267-47. He has been coaching travel volleyball since 1991, and his teams have qualified for Jr Nationals 4 of the past 11 years. He is the owner of STAR Volleyball Services LLC which conducts numerous clinics around the country.  Click the link to gain access to more valuable coaching tools. You can also contact Coach Houser at

In this post Coach Houser is sharing his answer to a question he received from another coach. The topic is “Recruiting Videos”


I coach club and high school in Ohio and stumbled across your website.   So I bought your ebooks.  Wow, they’re amazing! I really appreciate them!

Each season, I offer to help my players with recruiting videos, if they want them. So far, I don’t like the way that they’ve turned out. My husband has great editing skills, so that is not the problem.

Mostly, I am not sure what a great recruiting video looks like. I used guidelines from a well-respected college coach, but I am not sure that it creates a stellar introduction of the player. Another difficulty is that the players that I help are often not stellar. I do think that they can play somewhere, but they are not necessarily impressive (unless you only watch them in a highlight reel).

Can you please share some videos with me and offer any more thoughts/suggestions?



Bottom line in regards to a skills video:  You want the person watching to see the athlete’s athleticism, skill and potential.  Your goal is for the person watching to WANT to keep watching, to meet this athlete and see her play in person. 

That’s all a good video is.   There is no “this is the way!!” carved in stone.  Therefore, this article isn’t going to be about what Coach Houser prefers a skills video to be.  

In my career, I have helped produce dozens of skills videos and have watched maybe 1000.  When watching, I can usually discern the volleyball skills of the person in the first few minutes, regardless of the money the parents spent on it.  If the athlete who is working with you doesn’t have the skills or the athleticism to play at the next level, then we create the best video we can, and distribute it.  There’s nothing else we can do, or should do.  

I didn’t used to be able to evaluate talent very quickly.  But, because I’ve coached a lot of National level club teams, I have watched a lot of video of prospective team members.  I’ve also sat in the bleachers watching D1 volleyball for 4 years.  So, now every time I see a skills video, I usually can answer the following pretty quickly and reliably: “Could she make my club national level club team? Could she help D3 Local College?  Could she help Big University?”  The college coaches who view videos probably have about the same coaching experience as I do, or more.  

Now Let’s Talk About DON’Ts!!!  

I recommend that you don’t include in your video:

* anything that a good JV player could do.  If I see too much of that, I wouldn’t even be interested in her for my 15’s team.  A few college coaches may stop watching the video at that point.  Yikes!

* And don’t include rep after rep of the same skill, even if those reps are impressive.  The coach is encouraged to fast forward.  I do.  

Next:  don’t try to over-hype the person.  So, there’s no need for a long Hollywood intro. Get to her skills!  Let her athleticism do the hyping!   In fact, the more slow motion, special effects, etc. there is on a tape, the more I’m thinking, “Are they trying to trick me?”  The more slick the tape is, the wearier I become.  And impatient.  Please:  We want to see the athlete, not all that mess.

Never try to deceive the person watching the video.  For example, I’ve known coaches:

* to lower the net.  

* video from as close to the floor as possible, to try to make the player look taller *sigh*
* ask players to put on makeup, curl their hair, wear smaller clothes, etc. to make them more appealing. 

Really?  College and club coaches are aware of these tricks, and, if they feel that they’re being deceived, may just stop the video and go on to the next one.  Seriously, if a coach can’t trust a family during the recruiting process, won’t that practice continue if she’s on the team??  In other words, if we see that the athlete has been raised in an atmosphere of deception, then why would we believe that won’t continue?

The editor of the video may also try to pick clips vs. very weak opponents hoping that’ll make the athlete look better.  He may even try to hide/crop the opponents from the viewer.  Another *sigh*.  The coach watching the video will notice that the opponents aren’t making plays, thus are a weak team.  So, just pick video where the athlete is playing well.  And if the opponent happens to be pretty good, that’s even better!!

Again, let her athleticism and skill do the talking!   And if she doesn’t have enough skill/athleticism to play at OSU, OU, Marietta, etc., then that’s the way it goes.  We can’t all be members of the college team that we have dreamed of, just like we can’t all be on American Idol.  

OK, You Wanted To See A Few Videos!    

You asked for videos:  

* Here is video from a girl in Wisconsin:  I think you’ll like the first dig and the first hit.  Those got my attention.  I had to watch more.  

* Here is Bre Lockhart’s video.  She’s from Roanoke, and is now a freshman playing D3.  The dad and I created much of the footage together, then he did all the editing.  

* I received this yesterday from the mom of a girl who I’m training.   I had some feedback for the mom.  

At any time while you’re watched these videos, did you get bored?  Do you say, “Come on.  Don’t do any more.  I’ve seen that.  Move on.  Now, show me something new!  Can you do X?  Can you do Y? or Z?”  Yep, some videos don’t ask enough of the athletes, so someone watching will be left wondering, “I wonder if she can do A & B?”  Now, what if you were the coach who had to watch 10 of these videos per day?  See what I mean? 

Finally:  Make the video quick, efficient and ethical.  Meanwhile ask the athlete to show every skill that she excels at!  Then, let it all work itself out.  I promise you that if she has “PACA,” college and club coaches will be in touch.  

What is PACA?  

P is Potential

A is Athleticism

C is Character

A is Academics

(These aren’t in any particular order.  I placed them in this order so that I’ve have an acronym that was easy to remember.)

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