Let’s start this article by defining what a highlight tape is: It is an edited video that shows a player making plays. Think of it as an on court, resume. That sounds easy enough. But the key is to make one that will actually get a coach’s attention and then wanting to learn more about you. How do you do that? This article will explain what you need to include, and exclude, in your highlight tape.
Every day college coaches, prep school coaches, and I have players send us their highlights. This has been especially vital during Covid since coaches could not get out as much. Players post them to their social media accounts and some videos have very high production. But it is the quality of the highlights that can make or break you getting to the next level. Here are some tips gathered from college and prep school coaches on what to include on your highlight tape:
1) BIO CARD – Put one at the beginning of the video that includes you name, height, weight, position, class year, position, GPA, contact info, and jersey number. The last one is very important. You would be amazed at how many highlight videos do not tell you who the highlight subject is. Make this process as easy as possible for coaches.
2) SHOWCASE ALL OF YOUR SKILLS – The video should be between 3-5 minutes. Put your top three highlights first. I have watched multiple videos where a killer move or dunk was buried at the four-minute mark. Some coaches might not make it that far.
3) GROUP YOUR SKILLS TOGETHER – After you show your top three highlights break down the rest of the video into sections: shooting, passing, defense, post moves, etc. If you are a big man showcase your post moves from each side of the basket using each hand.
4) HAVE GAME FOOTAGE AVAILABLE – Anyone can make a solid looking highlight video. I could film one now in my driveway that would make me look great. But a coach will want to see all the moments in between which is why they will want to see game footage. They want to see what kind of teammate you are and how you react when you commit a turnover or miss a shot. Have a few of your best quarters or halves ready to send out to a coach.
5) INDIVIDUAL WORKOUT FOOTAGE – Due to Covid a lot of players did not have games to make a highlight tape from, so they made individual workout tapes as an alternative. Be sure to showcase all skills a basketball player uses, go game speed, and if possible, include 1 on 1, 2 on 2, or 3 on 3 so a coach can evaluate your decision making and reactions.
BONUS: PUT DEFENSIVE PLAYS IN OPENING HIGHLIGHTS. Taking charges, blocking shots, getting steals, and hustle plays are a major part of the game. A recent client started his highlight video w/ a full 45 seconds of tough D and one prep school coach loved it. The player ended up signing w/ this program.
Things to exclude in your highlight video:
1) MUSIC – If you include it be sure it does not include explicit language. A college coach told me that he has stopped recruiting players due to this language in a highlight video.
2) FREE THROWS – Unless they show you winning a game.
3) OVER DRIBBLING – A coach doesn’t want to see this, nor do they want to see stationary dribbling in a workout tape.
4) HALF SPEED – Seeing a player in a half speed pickup game does not impress anyone.
5) COMMENTS – If you have parents who make comments during the videos, go ahead and mute the chatter. This is a good instance to include profanity free music.
6) FANCY EDITING – There are some players who have fancy highlight tapes w/ black and white frames and slow motion. This is all smoke and mirrors. Coaches are busy and don’t have time for this. Just keep it simple. Watching the play a second time in slow motion and in black and white is redundant. Save that one for your social media pages.
Every coach has a highlight of lowlights that have been sent to them. Here are a few of these that I have been sent:
1) A player from Europe included a clip of him dunking a mini basketball while wearing a pair of jeans, on an outdoor court.
2) One highlight was 1:15 long and 1:00 was spent on watching the players set up for a free throw. The player being highlighted takes his time to shoot, misses, then steals the ball, puts up a layup for an and 1. I never saw if he made the and 1 free throw. SMH.
3) An entire highlight tape of a player dribbling two balls at half speed but not keeping control of the balls. It was puzzling.
The highlight tape is to show coaches your talent and skills. Don’t overthink it. Follow these suggestions and send out to coaches.