One of the KEY components in the recruiting process is getting a college coaches’ attention. With all of the correspondence college coaches and recruiting coordinators receive on a weekly basis (at all levels) it is mind boggling to figure out how they sort through it all. There is an abundance of talented athletes out there and from a practical standpoint, one must surmise that college coaches need a speedy and effective way to evaluate them. Hence the ‘highlight video’ or the ‘edited match’ video. What better way to find out if the athlete that is reaching out to program has what it takes or has the potential to be an athletic fit?

As many different styles of videos that I have seen over the years, from professionally narrated to the dozens that incorporate trendy music and affects, as well as over staged skills videos, I must say that the most effective videos I have seen are Simple and Significant. Simple in that they showcase the athletes’ ability by position and Significant in that they show the range of the players athletic abilities and skill level through highlights and edited match footage.

Video content, length, reps etc… and what is important to include in terms of technique and range of the athlete are discussions I have on a daily basis and the most asked question by parents at recruiting seminars. Everyone wants to know what the college coaches want…so let’s hear from a few.

The question I posed to all of the coaches was the same, “How important is a highlight video to you at the level you recruit at and could you share the top 3-5 things you look for in a recruiting video?” Below are responses that vary by Division/Major and is representative of all of the responses I received.


1. A highlight video included in the FIRST email with a DIRECT link is the best thing you can do to get yourself an immediate evaluation with time-strapped coaches. We prefer to see the athleticism and skill on film before we commit resources of time and effort to come see someone live. It also helps the athlete narrow their list and focus on the appropriate level of play for themselves sooner. It may be months before we see you live if we are just checking courts of people who wrote letters, but provided no context (video!). (Submitted by DI – High Major program)

2. If I do get a highlight video (since this is their best of the best) I like to watch how technically sound their game is like, how fast their arm is (since this is their best kills most likely), how technically sound their skills are and also body language. (Submitted by DI low-major program)

3. Highlight videos are exactly that. It allows my staff and me to evaluate the highest level that the kid is playing at, currently. We use highlights to generate lists of who we need to evaluate in person or request more film. Raw film clips allow us to evaluate the kid in a more realistic evaluation. (Submitted by DII program)

4. Highlight videos are absolutely essential at the DIII level. Sometimes our budgets do not allow us to travel far and/or often. Therefore, any amount of communication and “seeing an athlete play” via internet/phone/youtube/email only helps the perspective student-athlete’s case.

A 3-5 minute highlight video is imperative. It is the best way to make a quick, first impression and convince me to follow up with you. If the first few clips of a highlight video are impressive, I will gladly send an email and begin requesting more film and the athlete’s playing schedule in hopes that I will be able to see them in person. If any recruit is looking at a college far from home, film/highlights are essential to continued recruitment. Show me what you got and make me want to know you better! (Submitted by DIII programs)

5. Highlight videos are somewhat important for us at our level. We use them mainly just to gauge the talent of the athlete, but we also recognize that they are a highlight video and the recruit is going to pick their best performances. We use the highlight video to determine whether or not we are interested in that recruit. If we are, then we will want to watch them play in person or ask for an unedited game film if we are not able to watch them play. We look for a few things in the video- technique, athleticism, do they see the block (if they are hitter), defensive movement and team interaction is key for us. We would absolutely prefer a highlight video over a skills video. (Submitted by NAIA program)

6. Highlights from matches – NOT practice drills. While practice videos give college coaches a glimpse into your work ethic…highlights from controlled drills do not give them a good sense of your overall athletic ability, decision making and reactions to errors that can only be seen in match film.

Sample of Quality Highlight Video, courtesy of CMM Productions, video production partner of Munciana


1.) A short highlight video – average is 3-5 minutes

2.) Show a few seconds before and after – I want to see your body language, communication with teammates and reactions to plays, points earned and lost.

3.) Clips of you doing your positional skills well

  • Middles: hit, block, handle a free-ball pass, serve
  • Outsides: hit, block, PASS, serve & dig
  • Setters: setting in system and out of system (all sets, including entry footwork), dig, serve, block
  • DS/Ls: PASS, PASS, dig, serve & set



  • Arm Speed & Athleticism
    • How smooth do they move?
    • How fast do they move from an explosiveness standpoint?
    • How high do they reach while blocking and attacking?
  • Defensive and S/R Range
  • Attacking Range (shots/location/etc.)
  • Foot speed
  • Pass to Attack


  • Vision
  • Defensive and S/R Range
  • Platform
  • Serving ability
  • More Serve Receive


  • Hand mechanics
  • Foot speed
  • Serving ability
  • Defensive Range and mechanics
  • Verbal cues


Numerous coaches responded with the preference of ‘unedited film’ or will request it if the highlight video sparks their interest. Here are some responses that were reflective of the general consensus in regards to unedited match film.

1. What I look for: it doesn’t have to be a highlight reel. The recruit does not need to cut up the film and edit out certain plays, etc. A few highlights along with any amount of rotational play will suffice. I look for overall athletic ability: can the recruit move quickly to the ball defensively and offensively; can the recruit jump; what does the recruits’ arm swing and shot selection look like; decision making for setters.

2. Highlight videos are good to see, but I also prefer unedited game film. It is great to see a potential athlete at their best, but I also like to see how they respond to mistakes/errors/etc.

3. Raw film clips allow us to evaluate the kid in a more realistic evaluation.

4. I definitely want a video but I would also prefer match footage. For example, if you were an OH. I would rather see you pass to transition, hit shots against a block and/or defense, and block or dig a transition back. This would be more preferred than just hitting on the outside on an open net with no block and/or defense. I also feel transition needs to be seen. So, I would like multiple things happening in a match footage. For example, dig, transition to hit, block, transition to hit or dig back to block, etc. Also, I want to see everything they are good at. So, if they play backrow show that with serving, only front row then highlight multiple hitting opportunities.

5. A complete set, edited only for timeouts.


  • DON’T send an intro email with a “please let me know if you’d like to see a video” is useless. If you have the video, send it. If you don’t, get one before contacting us. A smartphone or YouTube video is the easiest thing for coaches to access.
  • DON’T include special effects, slo-mo or giant arrows / circles, just show us who you are once, we can figure it out
  • DON’T send video that require sign-ins. There are many platforms that house athlete’s information and film that DO NOT require authorized sign-ins. Make it easy for coaches to view your video.
  • DON’T send full game footage where they are touching the ball infrequently, there is a good chance the coach will not reply.

We learn from asking but most importantly, LISTENING. College coaches are the individuals whose attention you want to garner with the initial goal of getting them to be interested in your athletic ability and getting them to your court. They are the ones who watch endless of hours of video each day…potentially numbering into the thousands on an annual basis. LISTENING to their feedback is crucial and taking action to formulate your video and communication based upon what they have to say is bound to bring results.

In closing, if you are involved in the recruiting process at any level, you know that the utilization of video currently is a KEY component. With the technology at hand in regards to cell phones, countless editing resources and emerging video production companies that can film and produce high quality highlight and match films, providing college coaches with a video that represents who you are on the court along with your email is essential in kick-starting their interest.

Summing up the feedback, it is safe to say that a well thought out highlight video is:

  • KEY at all levels
  • IMPERATIVE to include with your FIRST correspondence to coaches
  • ESSENTIAL to ‘getting you noticed’ and getting coaches to your court

My take on the ‘highlight’ video is that it is ‘PART’ of the process and an effective tool to get you noticed. But, who you are as a prospective student-athlete (work ethic, academics, drive, teammate, athletic ability, competitiveness etc.) seals the deal!

About the Author

Patty Costlow is the Recruiting Coordinator for Munciana Volleyball, a long time JVA member club located in Muncie, Indiana.