How To Start Your Video Coaching Career (Part 1)

My name is Ian and I’ve been working in a video coach and other video roles since 2012. I have not “made it” to the NHL yet but having worked in hockey and other video roles for a number of years, I want to use this platform to give back and help others looking to get into video coaching. I’m the creator of the twitter account Pro Hockey Video Coaches (@video_coaches) and the one question I frequently get in my direct messages is “How and where do I start my video coaching career?” The answer I give everyone is you have to start somewhere. This is such a simple answer but there is so much that goes into it. What team can I start with? What equipment do I need? How many hours should I put in? 

Depending on where you are in the world, there can be a small number or a large number of minor hockey programs you can start with such as a Bantam or Midget AAA program. These teams are always looking for help because these programs have small budgets and it will give you the opportunity to work in many different roles. For example, you can work as the video coach and work in a communications role. You can learn how to manage the team’s social media accounts and be the team liaison for the organization. You can be in direct contact with the league, other teams and local media requests. At the AHL and the NCAA level, it is extremely common for the video coach to double as the team services manager. This entails booking travel, managing meals on the road, booking hotel and coordinating the team schedule amongst other responsibilities. You can also look to be the team’s goalie & video coach. There a number of people who occupy this dual role in major junior, the NCAA and in the AHL.

How can you get started?

1- Make a list of all the leagues in your area

2-Make a list of the teams in those leagues

3-Check the team sites and see if any of them already have a video coach

4-Look to see if there is contact information for the GM or the head coach

5-Write a short concise email stating your intentions and see if there is an opening

6- Figure what supplies the team already has. If none, find out what their budget is and come to them with a plan

What do you need to get started?

The basic formula to work as a video coach is having a feed, a converter, a software and a computer. Lets look at everything you will need individually:

Computer: You’re going to need a computer with a 500gbs of storage to start and if need be, you’ll need an external drive for more storage. You’re also going to want a computer that has a higher amount of RAM to work multiple tasks as well as a great graphics card. Usually software companies that you purchase a license from will recommend a model for you to start off with.

Camera: You will need an HD camera with the ability to have a cord bring the feed into your converter or splitter with an HDMI outlet. You can start with a basic handheld video camera and a tripod.

Converter: The converter box is your intermediate between the camera and computer. If you are working by yourself, you can bring the feed from the camera to the converter and into the computer. If you’re working at a level that requires the home team to provide a feed to the opposition, you will need to go from the camera into the splitter, then into your converter and into your computer.

Splitter: As mentioned above, you might need to provide a feed to the visiting team. Your splitter will split the signal multiple ways, it is always best to have at least four outputs.

Table: Depending on your set up, not every arena will have a press box with tables already built in. You can easily buy an individual folding table for your the road games. At home, you can purchase a large table for the splitter, converter boxes, your computer and the opposition’s computer.

Software: There are a variety of softwares available for video coaches at all levels. We have XOs, Hudl/Sportscode, Steva and Dartfish. XOs and Sportscode are the most popular in pro and college but those programs require bigger budgets. It is in your best interest to understand your team’s needs and budget. Once you’ve established that, you should reach out to these companies and see if you can get a free trial to test out the program. Once you decide on the software, you will need a subscription or a license to use the software through out the year.

What should you be able to do with these softwares?

·      Live capture video

·      Import raw video and export video

·      Create a custom key list in order to mark games

*I will go more in depth about key lists in a future post

·      A window to sort, edit and make playlists from your markings

·      Ability to change the strength depending on the game situation

·      Share video amongst multiple computers with multiple coaches

Now that we have established what you will need to get started, let us discuss HOW you should go about getting started. As I mentioned before, different levels in minor hockey will have different budgets. This will affect how much money they have for supplies as well as how much money they can pay you. Here are three scenarios that could potentially work for both parties:

1-The team pays for and owns all supplies & the team pays you a salary

2-The team and you split some costs, establish who owns what and & the team pays you a salary

3-The team pays for and owns all the supplies & you don’t get paid a salary

I’m sure we would all like to be in a situation #1 but not every team has the budget for this. I will say that experience is extremely important and if I couldn’t get option # 1, you should figure out a way to work with the team in a way you are both content.

The topics discussed today are how you can get initially started. In part 2, we will talk about the skills you will need to master in order to become an effective video coach as well has how you can grow personally and professionally. There isn’t much that you can control in the world, but one of the main ones is how hard you work. I never played at a high level nor do I have a family member who played or paved the way for me. I always told myself that no one would out work me and people will notice you putting in the effort.

Thank you for reading, did you have a question or want to discuss something you read here?

Drop me a comment or a direct message on twitter (@ibeecks) if you would like to keep this conversation going.

Ian