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