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Chris Chapman
Talent and Performance Organising and Planning

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

UK Coaching's Talent and Performance Development Lead Officer Chris Chapman looks at how coaches can use video more effectively in their coaching practice

Technology is advancing at such a rate a little under ten years ago the use of video in sport was reserved for the elite (and often rich). Now it is easily accessible with people monitoring their own activity and performance levels on a daily basis. And through YouTube, a whole generation of experts have been able to get their coaching methods and views out there. I have heard of young footballers teaching themselves ‘tricks’ via YouTube, as well as athletes learning throws techniques, and individuals developing their triathlon transitions. Even my own sons, aged 10 and 12, use the internet to solve everyday problems.  

How can we use video more effectively in our coaching practice? 

A picture paints a thousand words; use videos to show your athlete exactly what they need to be doing, ie use video examples to demonstrate a ‘cope’ or ‘expert’ model of performance, enabling your athlete to see what a skill, technique or tactical decision looks like before starting to do it themselves. Engaging in a hard first approach to coaching (ie showing what it looks like as a whole from a tactical and strategic perspective), is usually followed by an exertion of ‘ah, that’s what you mean’. And that’s just the basics of using videos in coachng. It also has the potential to encourage discussion, enhance performance evaluation and move an athlete towards autonomous decision making and skill development.  Athletes can also share their videos with each other and even use them on a delayed feedback loop for continuous access (when they want) in sports such as gymnastics, trampolining, cricket nets, court sport rallies and track and field.

Just like any resource in a coaches’ toolbox, you need to plan for how you will use video technology in your coaching practice. It’s handy to have access to it on your smart phone at any time, however, just like any other aspect of the session it needs to be considered in your planning.  Why am I using the video?  What will the athletes gain from this?  How will I introduce this to the session?  What questions do I need to consider?  Are they using this with me?  Will they be working with others?  Will they be bringing their own phones?  (And of course you need to consider the safeguarding implications of athlete’s videoing each other on their phones, ie consent and what you do with the video afterwards). Additionally, you might ask yourself as the coach what is the benefit of using video?  Will it help me achieve the session focus and objectives?  Will it detract from other aspects of the session?  Could in help enhance the athlete’s interpersonal and communication skills, and help them make decisions and give their peers feedback?

How do you get started? 

Hudl is a technology company who provide solutions for sports in this area. They have developed a superb (and free) app for coaches to use in their sessions called 'Hudl Technique'. Technique is one of a suite of technological resources they have to support coaches to be better. It has great features, including options to play back in slow motion; annotate over the video, and sharing functionality. It can help you and your athletes to review their current performance against videos of previous performances. You can also store your videos and filter by sport (if you coach multiple sports).

Take a look at the app for yourself and try using it in your next coaching session.

Related Resources

  • My Top Five Books for Sport Coaches

  • Are You Helping Your Athletes Be the Best They Can Be?

  • Visualisation in the Premier League


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Chris Chapman