Most high school-aged kids who are thinking about playing college tennis have heard about the hyped college video. Who needs it? What should be on it? When should they be sent? These are always amongst the first questions people ask me when I meet with them. Hopefully, this article can clarify some of the information.
Myth: Every college prospect needs a college video.
Fact: If you are in the top 100-175 in the country and playing in national tournaments where Division I college coaches are attending, you do not need a video. Your results speak for themselves, and you will be watched live by college coaches at national tournaments. If you are outside that range, it is a good idea to make a video since the schools that will probably be interested in you do not have the recruiting budget to travel to watch you play. Check with your coach or recruiting advisor to see if you need one.
Myth: Videos should be sent out as soon as possible or as late as possible.
Fact: You should really hold off on sending your video until the first six months of your junior year and by the end of your junior year at the latest. You do not want a long period of time to elapse after a coach requests the video before he/she actually receives it. The lapse comes off as being unmotivated in attending the school and the coach may not remember much about your correspondence. You also do not want to film a video too far in advance because you will probably improve your play after making of the video.
Myth: When playing points, you should dominate!
Fact: Losing an intense 15-shot rally is more impressive than an opponent dumping a second serve return into the net. Play points with someone who is slightly better than you and not looking at the same schools. What I recommend is to film an hour of points and take the two best serve games and two best return games “as is.” This will be a positive and realistic portrayal of you as a player. Never make it look like the other person is trying to make you look good.
Myth: Play in the video with your coach. He/she knows you best.
Fact: This is actually a half-myth. I see no problem hitting with your coach during the “hitting segment.” A coach will probably be better at keeping the ball in your strike-zone and making the rallies cleaner. However, college coaches want to see points against a peer in a situation where it looks like the other player is trying to beat you.
Myth: Post the video on You Tube.
Fact: The You Tube thing is becoming more common. If time and money allows, I would strongly suggest getting your video on a DVD for a few reasons. Firstly, sending the video directly gives a personal touch and shows interest to a college coach. Secondly, the quality of a disc is always going to be better than what appears on You Tube. Lastly, to get a good feel of a player, college coaches that I speak with prefer a 12-15 min. video. Unless you break it up, the maximum length on You Tube is 10 min.
Myth: Just send a video of a match.
Fact: A coach will be too busy to watch an entire match. Chances are that he/she will just watch the first 10-15 min. Instead, send a video that is about 15 min. long. The first five to seven min. should be of you hitting, volleying and taking serves. The last eight to 10 min. should be of you playing points against another high school-aged child of the same gender.
Myth: Time your video the best by filming and editing the video after one is requested.
Fact: Trust me … it takes longer than you think to organize court time, find practice partners and get a videographer. Then, you have to edit your video. After this is done, you may want to re-edit a portion. If not, then it is time to make and send your DVDs or post it on You Tube (not recommended). This process will take you longer than expected (at least two-weeks). At this point, the coach may either forget your correspondence, see you as unorganized or see you as unmotivated.
Myth: Music and sound effects can really make my video stand out.
Fact: Remember, this is a video to impress college coaches … not a video to show your children when you are older. Music and sound effects are distracting, and I’ve been told by a couple of college coaches that they are a turn-off.
Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at the prestigious Pine Hollow Country Club and independently coaches high-performance juniors year-round predominantly at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. As a player, Becker was awarded Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis Team and 1989-1992 Roslyn High School Teams. He was ranked number one in the Eastern Section and fourth in the United States in the 18-and-unders. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-359-4843 or via JuniorTennisConsulting.com.