Trading film is easy with new technology

Technology has made trading film a much easier process for Liberty Hill Coach Jerry Vance. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Technology has made trading film a much easier process for Liberty Hill Coach Jerry Vance. (Kathy Canady Photo)


Trading game film used to be a hands-on process, literally.

After a Friday night football game, coaches would have to wait for the film to process, usually on location of the game, while the bus would start to head home. Then, with the processed film in hand, coaches would drive and meet the next week’s opposing coach at an agreed upon location – usually a truck stop or gas station on the side of the highway.

“You would spend a lot of time just standing around,” said Liberty Hill Head Coach Jerry Vance. “Then, once you got your film, the night still wasn’t over. You could spend a lot of time waiting in a random truck stop if the other coach was running late or something.”

Once they had the film, preparing it to show the team was another labor-intensive project.

Coaches would have cut the film by hand, and then put together a finished project to review with their team to prepare for the next week’s opponent.

Vance said he hasn’t had to cut film by hand since the early 1980s, when VHS tapes started to replace traditional film and became more readily available. However, coaches were still climbing into their cars and crisscrossing the state on Fridays until the early 2000s, eventually trading DVD and CDs.

Today, that entire process can be finalized with the push of a button.

With digital recording and hosting, game film is shot, stored and edited at one time. Then trading video with a future opponent simply becomes a manner of swapping e-mail addresses.

“Now, all you have to do is check to make sure you’ve got the right film coming or going, then you hit OK to confirm,” Vance said. “We’re saving so much time compared to when we would have to be in the car to make the switch off.”

Technological advancements have also changed the nature of recruiting.

Like coaches trading film, college recruiters would usually leave high school campuses with bags filled with VHS tapes, or DVDs, from various athletes with highlights. Today, anyone with access to the internet can find an athlete’s recruiting tape.

YouTube and Hudl sparked that revolution. On YouTube, anyone with a free login can post a video to the internet and share it. Hudl is sports specific and has a user-friendly interface, which allows players themselves to cut and edit highlights.

“We don’t have to do too much with recruiting videos anymore because of Hudl,” Vance said. “It’s easy to use and the kids can put together their own highlights. As a coaching staff, we no longer have to help them build out films that recruiters would look at.”

That simplicity has led to an oversaturated market of highlight videos.

If you search “high school football highlights” on YouTube, more than 817,000 results immediately populate a list. On Hudl, nearly any player who has taken a varsity snap has video readily available.

That’s why recruiters need help from high school coaches when sorting through this colossus of video footage. While seemingly anyone can edit together a good highlight film, high school coaches often end up being the driving force that pushes recruiters in the right direction.

“It’s a two-way street,” said Todd Dodge, the former head coach at North Texas University and now a high school coach at Austin Westlake. “College coaches can use the internet to find video. But, there’s so much out there that they need direction to start sorting.”

Football isn’t the only sport that has taken leaps and bounds with video. At almost any high school sporting event, it is not uncommon to see a student or assistant coach manning a camera or an iPad filming the action.

“It’s amazing how much we can use the video right away,” Liberty Hill volleyball Coach Gretchen Peterson said in an interview with The Independent before the season. “We can get decent quality on the iPad, then we can review and go over things almost right away.”