You may not be in a situation where you have the technology or the personnel to do so, but if you are able you should film practice as much as you can. It’s remarkable how much you will see on a film that you didn’t see live, and sometimes being an hour or two removed from the situation – and perhaps from any subconscious bias you may have brought to practice – will help you evaluate more clearly.
You don’t have to film every minute of practice. You can focus on certain drills or simply film the live stuff. You’ll end up with a 30-40 minute film at the end of practice that will give you a clearer view of where you are as a team. When I was at Providence we were able to film practice every day, but when I took over the RIC job we didn’t have enough help, or a great vantage point every day to set up the camera and film practice. And I really missed it. I’ve realized it even more now that I am at the University of Maine and we are back to filming practice every day.
There are so many benefits to filming practice. One is that you will see things that you don’t remember seeing when you were at practice, and you can go over specific plays a few times to get a cleaner look. It also gives you a chance to bring your guys in and show them the behaviors you are looking for, as opposed to simply telling them. When a player sees behavior on film that is either acceptable or unacceptable, it clearly gets the message across. When you talk about great toughness or effort with your team, you can show them exactly what you meant on film.
Another great benefit to having film is to self-evaluate. Watch yourself as a coach, listen to the tone of your voice, the way you instruct, and what your body language says. Your players are reading every move you make when you are the head coach. It seems like a lot of coaches talk to their players about body language, but do we evaluate ourselves the same way? You’ll be surprised by what you see when you watch yourself on film, and it will make you better.
You may not be able to film practice every day, but when you get the chance take advantage of it. Even if you only do it once per week. From a team perspective, it’s impossible to see the entire play, from the ground level, when watching play live. You are generally focused in one one area or a couple of players. And you’ll also have the chance to evaluate yourself as a coach, and to focus on specific players if you so choose.
If you have the ability to film your practices, take advantage of it. You’ll learn so much more about your team and find better ways to coach them.