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Athlete Recruitment Highlight Video: The Complete DIY Guide For Any Sport

Sports Recruitment

8 minute read


  1. Introduction
  2. Equipment setup
  3. Highlight list
  4. Editing your video
  5. Pro tips and mistakes to avoid
  6. Next steps: My video is done, now what?
  7. Other resources


Are you or is a son or daughter interested in playing sports beyond high school? If you answered yes then a recruiting video is crucial for high school athletes who desire to play at the collegiate level and they are especially important for earning scholarships. That’s because your highlight film is often a coach’s first exposure to you as an athlete. The thing is, most college coaches don’t have the time to travel and see every recruit in person. The coach relies on highlight reels as an essential means for recruiting. By following the recommendations outlined in this guide you’re taking the first step towards competing at the next level.

In this guide we are going to show you all the steps on how to DIY your own athletic recruitment video. We’ll outline what equipment is necessary to capture your abilities as an athlete. We’ll tell you what highlights college coaches want to see for your specific sport whether it be baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, water polo, or wrestling. We’ll also cover what mistakes to avoid and simple software editing techniques to make your highlight reel really stand out. Lastly, we provide you with an email template so you can introduce yourself to university and college coaches and share your video.

Equipment setup

When filming a recruiting video for any sport, all you need to do is these three things to record quality footage:

1 – Record with a high-definition device
Your phone has a powerful camera built-in and serves as a perfect and inexpensive filming option. Point and shoot handheld cameras work great too. You want to be able to record video at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second, which most video cameras do as a standard today. We recommend checking the settings on your device to confirm 1080p and 30fps. Another great option for obtaining game footage is to ask the high school coach if they record the games and if they could send you copies of game footage.

2 – Keep the camera steady
The importance of keeping the camera steady is because college coaches cannot judge an athlete’s ability if the camera is moving and focusing all over the place. A tripod is recommended to keep your camera steady and tripods cost less than $20 on Amazon. If you don’t want to buy a tripod or do not know where you could borrow one then find a steady surface to rest the camera on. The goal here is to record smooth, non-shaky video.

3 – Film from a good vantage point
A good vantage point is one from as if you were watching the sport on TV. It is critical that the footage gives the college coach the ability to see you play tactically so not too close but not too far away either. You will want to capture you, the ball, and the other players as the play develops. The position you choose for filming should also not be obstructed by any objects, other players, fans, or people walking by. We’ll explain camera position and angle, in more detail, for your specific sport in the next section.

Highlight List

For your recruiting video to be effective and grab the coach’s attention, you need to know exactly what the coach is looking for in your highlight reel for your sport. Depending on the sport, each coach is going to want to see your performance in varying aspects of the game. Below are links where you can find sport specific items to include in your recruitment video.

One thing to note, if you play both sides of the ball, feel free to share clips from multiple positions. For example, if a linebacker prospect also plays running back, you should include highlights from both offense and defense. Those clips can showcase athleticism and catch a coach’s eye.

Editing your video

Coaches do not have the time or attention span to watch your entire season on tape. Instead you will want to present them with a highlight reel showcasing your athletic talent. With the standard movie editing software on your PC or Mac, you can produce your own recruitment film.

If you are uncomfortable with performing the edits yourself, we recommend hiring a professional. Timepiece is a marketplace where you can hire professional video editors to combine all your best highlights. Preview recruitment videos at www.timepiece.studio to gain inspiration for your highlight film.

If you want to give DIY editing a shot, you will have to be comfortable with your video editing software and be able to create two special effects on your computer – the introduction and the spotlight marker.

The introduction

Every recruitment video should open with a 10-second introduction of yourself to the coach. It should be a still graphic that includes a picture of you in your uniform, your name, your jersey number, your position, your graduation year, and any applicable stats to your sport – height, weight, field goal percentage, 40 yard dash time, batting average, etc. Also include your phone number and email address in the introduction so the person who watches the video can contact you.

You can create the introduction graphic using any image and text editor. We recommend using free software like Google Slides or Online Photoshop. Once you have created the graphic, you simply save it as a .png or .jpg image.

The spotlight marker

Coaches want to see a play develop and observe your athletic abilities. In order to satisfy the coach, you will need to identify yourself on the screen. First, choose your best highlight clips you want included in the final cut. For each game film clip, you will have to add a video freeze and spotlight marker to tell the coach which player you are.

Professional soccer player Matt Sheldon of Become-Elite.com explains how to make a highlight clip in this video. His example is particularly for soccer however, the editing techniques can be used for any sport. Begin watching the video at the 5:49 mark for how to edit a clip and add a spotlight marker.

We have included arrows for you to download but you can use any identifier you want to spotlight yourself in the video. Also, feel free to change the colors to better match your school colors using Online Photoshop. Just make sure you save the arrow image as a .png because that preserves the transparent background.

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It is OK to add a soundtrack to your highlight video but not necessary. The rule-of-thumb is you do not want to distract attention away from your game. We recommend using instrumental music only and keeping the volume at a 3 out of 10. The other concern is you do not want to use unlicensed copyrighted songs in your video because (1) it shows bad judgement stealing music and (2) your video might be blocked by YouTube. We recommend using free royalty free songs from Free Music Archive.

Putting it all together

The ultimate goal is to present a clean, entertaining video where you grab the coach’s attention right away and keep them interested in seeing more of you play. You should begin the video with a 10 second introduction graphic followed by your best clip first followed by your second best and so on so as to stitch together a highlight reel between 4-6 minutes.

Lastly, you’ll want to save the final cut as a .mp4 or .avi file. You should preview the video and make any changes to clips that don’t show your best stuff up-front or cause a coach to lose interest because the clip is too long.

Pro tips plus mistakes to avoid

With a little bit of knowledge, anyone can DIY their own athletic recruitment video. We’ve gone ahead and gathered some pro tips to add to our earlier instruction as well as mention the mistakes you should avoid.

  • When using a cell phone to record game film, always record horizontally. You want footage that is wider rather than taller because that will match the screen that coaches are watching your video on.
  • You will want to avoid filming a scripted introduction of yourself. Coaches want to see your athletic abilities first and you will bore them if you give a speech for the first 3 minutes. A 10-second intro with your picture, name, number, etc. is enough.
  • Do not add slow-motion or other special effects because they are seen as distractions from evaluating a player’s abilities. The only special effect added should be a “spotlight” marker on you before the play begins. Don’t interrupt a play to spotlight yourself because it makes it tough to judge fluidity and athleticism.
  • If you include music, the music should not be copyrighted and definitely not include vulgar lyrics.  You are sending this video to college coaches so show them your best judgement.
  • Lastly, your recruiting video should showcase YOU and not the fans or screaming parents. Do your best to remove anything that distracts from your playing ability.

Next steps: My video is done, now what?

We suggest uploading your recruitment video to YouTube or Vimeo and then reach out to prospective college coaches by email. Expect to contact between 50 and 100 coaches but do your homework first to identify the schools that are both an academic and athletic fit for you.

You can discover schools that meet your criteria by using this college search tool from collegeview.com. You can filter based on your sport, location, division, and any other variables you can think of. You can also find the athletic department’s contact information by:

  1. clicking on a school you are interested in,
  2. clicking the “School Facts” tab,
  3. then clicking the “Athletics” button under categories.

When drafting your email, try not to make it generic to all coaches. Instead, make the correspondence genuine by mentioning something about the college that you like, or congratulating the coach on a big win. Personalized contact might just set you apart from others and we have included an email template to get you started. We have drafted an email template for you to use when sharing your highlight video with coaches.

Most importantly, you need to follow up by phone, asking if the coach received the email and what the next step might be in the recruiting process. Your ability to communicate with college coaches will not go unnoticed. They want confident high school athletes who know what they want and express an interest in their program.

Other resources

Keep in mind, you can reach out and open lines of communication anytime to college coaches. However, depending on the sport and the division, college coaches are limited to what they can do by NCAA rules. To familiarize yourself with the entire process, please see visit the NCAA website: http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/recruiting

If you have not visited the website already, Next College Student Athlete is a great source of free advice and paid services covering all aspects of the recruiting process.

Lastly, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you might have – athletes@timepiece.studio. Best of luck!

Email Template To Coaches: Sharing Your Sport Recruitment Highlight Video