Make A Videotape

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Making A Baseball Videotape

Jeff Spelman


Question: You are the director of one of the best high school showcase events in the country. I know that you receive many videotapes, from high school baseball players, each year. How valuable are these tapes to you - with regards to TEAM ONE and making an evaluation of a player that may have been recommended to you as a potential invitee to one of the Showcases?

Answer: If I can't see a player in-person, a quality videotape is the next best thing. I find tapes very valuable when evaluating high school players. A videotape can give you a general idea of the players "tools." Last winter I received an unsolicited videotape of a pitcher and I was shocked at what great arm action he had and the ease at which this player threw. I did some follow-up and found out that this left-hander was throwing about 82-83 mph but you could just see that as he got older his velocity would increase. We invited him to TEAM ONE and he caught the eye of college recruiters. This fall he was offered a good scholarship from a top-10 school down south.

Question: First off- How long should a tape be? What would be considered too long and too short?

Answer: I think a tape should last no longer than five minutes. Most things is baseball - hitting, throwing, pitching - only take a few seconds. I have never seen a tape that was too short. Usually parents put too much on a tape that is unnecessary.

Question: I have heard of players sending professionally done tapes that have fancy titles, lighting and sound. Is any of this important? If a tape is done by a parent or coach without all of the "Hollywood" frills will it be as valuable in evaluating a player?

Answer: Parents - don't spend the money on a fancy videotape. I have seen many tapes with fancy titles, background music, etc. These items are distractions. A concise, well-thought out video always works best.

Question: Would you recommend that a tape be "shot" using a tripod if one is available?

Answer: Yes, use a tripod to avoid the camera from bouncing around.

Question: In general - should a tape include both live game film as well as practice type scenes? Would practice only tape be enough for a coach to get an initial idea of a player's abilities?

Answer: Practice tape is enough for me. It serves the purpose of showing the players' basic skills. Game film is fine, but keep it short.

Question: Please list the locations that should be included when filming a pitcher (i.e. from behind the mound, from behind the catcher, from the pitcher's open side, etc.) Are any locations more important or better than others?

Answer: All of those angles are important for different reasons. I would suggest a parent film 4-5 pitches from each of those locations. If you can only do one, I would choose the location behind the catcher. This spot shows mechanics and movement on pitches.

Question: What locations or angles would you suggest for filming the player when at bat?

Answer: Parents should film facing the players' open side. For a right-handed batter, film from the first base line. Tape a left-hander from the third base side. You may also want to include 3-4 BP swings from behind home plate as well.

Question: When filming position players is it best to get both the fielding mechanics as well as the throw? Any suggestions on locations here?

Answer: I would film infielders from the area between home and first. We are looking for hands, arm, range, first step and athleticism. Make sure you get the throw in so we can see how the ball carries. Shoot outfielders in practice coming in on a ground ball and making the throw. Also film them going to get a fly ball.

Question: Catchers - same questions - suggested locations, etc. Is it a good idea to try and film a stopwatch and a catcher throwing at the same time? I have seen this done and it made some sense to me.

Answer: Film the catchers from behind home plate and maybe a few shots filming him from down the first base line a bit to look at his open side and mechanics. The person watching the tape can get a stopwatch on the throw if they want.

Question: Do you suggest that a tape of a position player include footage of the player running? If yes - just running the bases or a 60 yard dash, or does it matter?

Answer: I would only put running in the videotape if the player is exceptionally fast - a 6.7 or better runner in the 60. I have seen very few tapes with this in it. If I had to pick between running the bases and a the 60 on tape, I would choose running the bases.

Question: I have heard about tapes that included scenes of a player in non-baseball situations (i.e. dressed neatly for church ... waving at Mom or Dad). Would you recommend including this or leaving it out?

Answer: Absolutely do not include this in your tape. For starters, it would probably embarrass your son and it would have no value to the college coach or Showcase director.

Question: I have seen tapes that were sent to a particular college coach and in the tape the player was wearing a hat with the logo of the coaches conference rival. Would this be detrimental in your opinion?

Answer: It would bother me if I were the coach. It would be a classic case of not paying attention to the details. A player should stick to wearing his high school or summer hat and uniform.

Question: What are some of the best "things" that you have seen included in player videotapes?

Answer: The best things are keeping the video short and showing the coach the players basic skills in a concise, professional manner.

Question: What separates a good tape from a "not too good" tape?

Answer: The "not too good" tapes are the ones that are out of focus or shot from a poor angle (i.e. shooting a batter with his back to the camera). Bad tapes also include a lot of unnecessary things such as a players entire at-bat where he took 2-3 balls and fouled off a couple of pitches.

Question: What other suggestions would you make to a player, his family or coach when making a videotape of a player?

Answer: Label the tape with the players' name, address and phone number. Sometimes tapes get separated from the cover letters. Again, this is just paying attention to details. Another thing I would suggest: when you make a tape of your son, make sure he is ready. Don't go out and film his first 10 swings in BP or the first ground ball he fields that day. Let him warm-up, be relaxed and prepared. Also, in your cover letter to the coach, tell them that the video lasts only 4-5 minutes and what the tape includes. Coaches will be more inclined to watch if they know it won't take a big chunk of their time and that the tape includes the things they want to see.

Jeff Spelman is the Director of the nationally recognized and highly successful TEAM ONE showcases. Jeff can be contacted using the following information:

Jeff Spelman
TEAM ONE Showcases


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Revised February 09, 2003 .