Reviewing Your Game Footage is Important!

Actors do it. Babies do it. Closely watching the behaviors and habits of skilled, mature individuals in a field is undoubtedly helpful in learning how to do these things yourself. When it comes to soccer, it is easy for us to undermine and even ignore the massive resource that is game footage. Watching videos of college, pros or even yourself — with a trained and focused eye (key things to remember!) can help improve your game. And, you don’t even need to break a sweat!

My college coach was obsessed with the concept of film as a means of development. It was scheduled into our summer program right alongside interval running and lifting. He would test us on it, making it a fun competition. If the USWNT were playing one night, he would encourage us to watch it and he would keep track of things like the number of shots taken or slotted crosses coming from down the flank. He instructed us to do the same. If our numbers matched his at the end of watching the game, you won and you’d get a prize.

You were paying attention! We were all required to sign up for a Hudl account linked through our school emails. Before practices during actual season, he would often send us clips to watch before that day’s training to get us thinking about what we’d be working on. He invested in very expensive, high-tech other programs that broke down our game to an incredible degree for each individual player.

Not every coach has the same sort of fervor for game footage of course. However, there are important lessons to be gleaned from an approach like this. Soccer is the most widely-accessible sport in the world to watch. I do not even need to fact check that firm claim. That’s how sure I am.

There is a big difference between watching a game as a fan versus as a student. It is easy to get sucked into fan POV. Barcelona is beautiful to watch. If you’re a fan, the ball is where the entertainment is likely to happen so it makes sense to follow it on your screen. Scored a big goal or had a nice flick in that game last weekend?

Obviously, you are going to go and rewatch that if told by a coach to “watch some footage”. No major action means a fan is less likely to stay engaged. Maybe you go make some food during a lull in the half. The game is on in the background but hey it’s still on and you can hear the commentator if anything exciting starts to happen.

Watching a game as a student means taking the time and energy to focus on the game in a different way. Even if it is just for 25 minutes. If those 25 minutes are concentrated and purposeful, they can be very effective. Are you a forward? Watch Sam Kerr’s movement OFF the ball. Struggling to get your hips around crosses to whip a ball into the right place? Focus on how Megan Rapinoe shapes her body.

It can be helpful even notice the mistakes. Why did Marta lose that ball just then? This kind of thinking and question-asking generates ideas you will start to pay more attention to on the field.

Similar things apply when watching yourself. However, do not be so quick to get bogged down in the negative. For many female athletes (myself included), we are our harshest critics. If you are watching back footage of yourself, absolutely take note of the things you can work on — when you held the ball too long at the top of the 18 or a situation when you passed instead of taking that open lane to the goal. Write them down.

Make sure that you also pay attention to the things you did well! This is just as important when it comes to honing your tangible skills but also flexing your mental muscles that will improve your confidence on the field. Yes, that was a good tackle you made in the final third. Don’t be shy about patting yourself on the back — even if its just on your couch with your laptop.

Game footage is one of the most awesome resources we have available as athletes. Youtube, social media, and all kinds of apps and companies for team use make it so there is always a way to watch a game to improve your game. Watching footage can be social and it can be fun but it can also be incredibly educational and helpful if you come at it with the right lens.



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