Evalauating Game Film in Youth Football
Game film can be a very useful tool for coaching youth football. It can be used to evaluate your team, scout an opponent, and it can be a great teaching tool. If you do not use film properly, you can spend a lot of time evaluating the film and get very little results. Make sure you are using game film for the maximum effectiveness without spending a ton of time doing it.
Getting the Film
There are several different ways to get film and to distribute the film. Filming can be done by a parent, coach, the organization, or a professional film service. One tip which will save a lot of time is to film only the plays- do not film all the dead time between plays. The quality of the film is very important, at a minimum the person doing the filming should use a tripod and show all the players in the frame pre-snap. If the picture is wobbly or not zoomed properly you will not get much from the film evaluation. The picture below is a good example of what the picture should look like.
The most common method for distributing the film is to record it on a DVD. This is the least desirable option because you will either need to make copies of the DVD or lend the DVD out. This is a real pain when you have coaches, parents, and players all asking for the film. An easy alternative is to upload the film to youtube and then send the link to everyone.
If you want to use film editing software I recommend using HUDL. It is used by many high school, college and NFL teams. HUDL has a telestration feature which allows you break down film and add notes a comments. The film can be shared with all your players, parent, and coaches. HUDL also has a free app for your smart phone so you can show players specific plays at practice. Currently HUDL offers a youth package for $99 per year which is definately worth the money. Below is a screenshot from HUDL.
Breaking Down the Film
The first thing you will notice when watching film is all the things you missed during the game. You do not see everything during the game and it is hard to see certain things from the sideline. This is the reason to wait until you see the film before you assess your team or players performance. It is also good reason why you should film your games.
The second thing you will notice is there are lots of mistakes on every play. It is important to remember you cannot fix every single mistake. Identify the mistakes that are constantly repeated and the ones that are critical. It is important to breakdown the mistakes to the root cause of the mistake. Instead of saying something like "we need to work on blocking", it should be "we need to work on stepping with the correct foot".
From the film study, you will have a list of things to work on in practice. Incorporate them in your practice plan during individual, group, or team time. Because there is a finite amount of practice time each week, you will probably have to trim the number of things to work on.
One final note on watching film with your players. Watching the entire film with your whole team is a waste of time. It takes a lot of time and kids have short attention spans. If you watch film with your players, keep it to around 8-10 plays.
When scouting an oppenents defense, get an idea on how to attack the defense based on the offense you run. Basically you want to game plan your offense- i.e. identify the plays you think will work best against the defense. This might be running left because the defense is weaker to the left, running counters/reverses because they overpursue, or a PA pass because the safety bites on the run fakes. You can add a play or two but do not overhaul the entire offense.
On defense, note the formations, any trick plays, and the players to focus on. Go over these things in practice so your kids are prepared game day. Youth teams also tend to show tendancies- they run only a certain play from a formation, they always run to the wide side of the field, pass only on 3rd and 4th and long, etc. If you can pick up on some tendancies it will be information that you can use during the game. A word of caution... film is a good reource but it should not be as a substitute for teaching good defensive principles.
Check out the two scouting samples:
Game film is not the end all, it is just another tool to help you become a sucessful team. If used properly it a great way to assess your and improve your team. The biggest thing is not trying to fix eveything in a week and getting nothing fixed. If you only get a couple things fixed in week your team has still improved.