Believing is Seeing – Video Feedback

This is from Jeff Cole at NorCal VBC – he told us it was inspired by material covered in our LEVEL2 clinic.

Some of us are visual learners and others of us are not. Video playback can help increase the pace of learning volleyball for players who learn with their eyes.

Do you remember how unfamiliar your voice sounded the first time you heard a recording of it? I remember that mine sounded so much deeper than I expected. Similarly, we are often surprised the first time we see a video clip of ourselves playing volleyball. We have a mental picture of how others see us move, but when we watch ourselves on film we see that we are behaving quite differently.

Video playback can help players break through if they are struggling to improve a particular skill. Does the following sometimes happen to you as a player? No matter how many different ways the coach describes the behavior that they want to see, they never seem to be satisfied, and they get frustrated, and then you do too. Every repetition of the skill performed the wrong way reinforces the poor behavior, making improvement that much more difficult. From your perspective you ARE doing everything the coach is asking you to do, or at least you think you are. Watching yourself perform the skill on video can help you break through this unproductive cycle. Often times you will find that you are not doing what you THINK are doing. By watching yourself on video, you will see what the coach sees and you can begin to coach yourself. You begin to understand what it FEELS like to move a particular way seen on video.

There are several ways you can use video to help you improve. The simplest way is to record your matches with a camcorder and watch it later. You have seen them…the parents with a camcorder on a tripod around the court filming the matches. What do they do with this film? Some use it for home movies. Some get more involved. After each high school and club match my son downloaded the video that his mother recorded onto his computer and used inexpensive software (Pinnacle, MS Movie Maker, Showbiz by ArcSoft, etc.) to capture clips of himself that he would later watch over and over to find ways to improve his game. He played for UC San Diego’s Men’s Team.

We use video technology in NorCal’s Pleasanton facility. Our video set-up includes a TiVo DVR, wireless security camera on a tripod, and a television (or digital projector) set on a rolling cart for playback. This equipment can be repositioned on the court to best facilitate the filming and review during a drill. We record a continuous, uninterrupted stream of video on the TiVo DVR throughout the drill. While video is being stored on the DVR, we can use the fixed-delay-playback, rewind, slow-motion and frame-by-frame capabilities of the DVR to help the players see what they are doing, and watch the ways others are performing the same skill. We use the dry-erase markers and draw directly on the TV screen to be more explicit in our instructions.

The fixed-delay-playback has proven to be the best use of time when using video equipment in the gym. We play back what the DVR is continuously recording but with a fixed delay, which we can adjust. Players can perform a skill and then they can, within seconds, watch themselves perform that skill, all without stopping the drill. Using the video projector instead of the TV allows us to project a life-sized image on one of the gym walls to avoid the need to walk over to the TV set to watch the delayed playback.

There are many tangible benefits to using video technology. Players learn faster and can see what the coaches see. Communication between coaches and players improves because “pictures are worth a thousand words” and agreements about what is actually occurring, and what needs to change are easier to reach. Players can then learn what to look for when they watch their own match recordings and become their own coach.

Jeff Cole
NorCal Volleyball Club
Pleasanton, CA

7 comments on Believing is Seeing – Video Feedback

  1. Lance Huffman says:

    >This is a great post. I coach high school and club volleyball, most of the time to girls who are developing as players. You are so right about the value of video feedback. It must be a human trait to not know what you really look like when performing a task.

    I would like to use this information in my practices. Can you help me understand better how to set it up?

    Can you tell me, how do I set up a system like yours? Where would I purchase a video camera of decent quality, and how can I learn how to set it up to be recorded on my DVR?

  2. msc83 says:

    >I love video feedback and have been trying to figure out how to set up a tivo system like this forever. Stopping and starting video camera takes too much time. Would you be willing to email me instructions.

  3. Solomonn says:

    >How do you make the video process wireless? I have a quality camera, a tivo unit, and a television, but how do they work together?

  4. Bwilson says:

    >Technology is not my strength, nor does my program have the budget for much equipment, so I just purchased a $140 Sony Bloggie, like a Flip Video camera. I plan to use it mostly for practices. I am hoping it is my answer to taking advantage of video feedback at a cost and technological level that works for me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    >I purchased a TiVo unit at Best Buy for $50. Without paying TiVo for a monthly subscription, you can't use it to program TV recording, but you can use the 30 minute buffer as described in the original post. A 25 foot AV Cable is less than $10 if purchased online, and then you can avoid expensive wireless technology. But watch out for those chords!

  6. vballvoodoo says:

    >I've been kicking the idea of a wireless security camera around for a while now. This has inspired me to get on it. The timed playback delay is the part that is really awesome. In teaching my players to read I always want to be able to freeze time to point some things out. Watching practice video a day later is ok, but stopping and seeing it right away is just powerful. What model camera works for you? And what interfaces between the camera and the tivo?

  7. CJM says:

    >Here is the setup we use at BYU:

    We have a cart on wheels with an old TV and an old TIVO box on it. The camera is a standard cheap video camera, (the only catch is that is has to have some kind of video output) and is mounted to a tripod, which is duct-taped/zip-tied to the cart. So the camera's video out goes into the TIVO box, and the video out from the TIVO goes into the TV in. That's it. You can then control the TIVO as if it were playing live TV (it thinks the video in from the camera is the TV signal coming in). The most delay you can get is about an hour. You just need RCA video cables (typically the yellow capped ones) to connect the camera, TIVO, and TV. And some long extension cords to wheel the cart around.


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