Tag Archive for delayed video feedback

Getting the most out of video

An interesting discussion was started in a Facebook group on the subject of sharing video with players. It began with the following statement.

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that if we REALLY want kids to ‘forget the past’ then allowing them to view past performance with an eye to correcting all their mistakes seems kinda silly. I much prefer to focus on what they are doing right and let the bad stuff ‘go extinct’.

There are a few ways we can unpack this. I want to address this idea of “forget the past” before getting into how I think video is most useful.

When to forget and when to remember

To my mind the idea of letting go of errors is most specifically related to the performance phase. By that I mean a player will perform better if they can forget the error they just made and get on with playing the next ball. I wrote about this before in Ways to help players put errors behind them.

This, however, is quite different than the development phase. In the latter case players must absolutely acknowledge their errors. More than that, they need to look at them critically so they can go about trying to correct them. This is a hugely important part of the intentional practice process. See the post Climbing Mistake Mountain, and if you haven’t already, consider reading The Talent Code.

My point is you cannot shield players from their errors in the learning part of the process. They must see them. That said, they should also see when they do it correctly so they can see the contrast. This is extremely important when they don’t understand what’s leading to bad outcomes – and we can’t assume they do.

By the way, it’s important to know which phase you’re in. If you want players to have a performance mentality and let go of mistakes, you can’t then provide technical feedback when they make them.

Getting the most out of video

I use video a lot. If I have the capability where I’m coaching, I use delayed video during practice. This gives players instant visual feedback on what they just did. They can see it for themselves, and link what it felt like kinesthetically with what actually happened. I can also provide additional comment on what they’re watching. This is for both the errors and the good repetitions, so you get both error recognition and confirmation of successful performance.

Delayed video in practice is obviously a raw feed. There’s no chance to edit it, though as coach you can draw the player’s focus to something specific. It’s that latter element that I think needs to be a big feature of providing players with game footage after the fact.

While I agree that if just shown raw video players will tend to fixate on their mistakes – certainly female players tend to be that way – I don’t actually think that’s the biggest concern. To me the problem tends to be a lack of specific focus on what’s most important.

That’s where you have to provide the focus. The most direct way to do that is to edit the video so it only shows what you want the player(s) to concentrate on. That’s not always a reasonable option, however. In that case it becomes important for you to get them to look at what they need to see, and to ask them specific questions related to it. They’ll probably pick up on other stuff anyway, but at least you can keep the conversation moving in the direction you want. This goes for both watching themselves and watching other teams.

Notice that all of what I’ve described above is developmental phase usage of video. None of it takes place during the performance phase. If I were to share performance phase video with my team or players, it would focus on tactical adjustments. I would not show them technical elements.

One final piece of advice

I’ll leave you with one last recommendation. Keep it brief. One of the great aspects of the delayed video is that the player(s) can look at what the just did quickly and get right back to the action. When watching regular video, though, that’s not the case. Attention spans become a problem. As a result, it’s best to keep thing as tight and directed as you possibly can. You can go longer when you’re in a one-on-one with a player, but if you’re in a group session you’ll lose their attention quickly.

Fixing bad passing mechanics

A reader of the blog has a problem with one of their players. Specifically, it relates to bad passing mechanics. Here’s the note I received:

“I am a relatively new coach and this is my first season coaching boys. I have one boy on the team in particular that I’m having a hard time with his passing skills. He is doing what I call butterfly arms (Looks like he’s swimming the butterfly stroke) and delayed foot movement during passing. He waits until the ball is almost on him, then swings his arms backwards and around to get them into his hitting stance then leans forward instead of shuffling to get under the ball.

I’ve tried all kinds of passing and footwork drills with him (rolling the ball and having him shuffle to get it between his legs, having him hold his arms out, shoulder width apart and tossing him the ball without requiring foot movement, etc.) and I haven’t been able to cure this extra movement. Needless to say, he shanks a LOT of passes. Do you have any suggestions for drills or repetitions to help this?”

I’m having a hard time visualizing exactly what the problem is with the arms. I think I’ve got a general idea, though. In a case like this my first thought is the player needs to see himself to be able to understand what’s happening.

What I would start by doing is having the player watch some good passers in action. That could potentially be someone on his own team. It could be someone that they play against. Of course, it could also be some prominent high level players that could potentially be bigger role models for them. That stuff should be easy enough to find on YouTube, etc.

Once the player knows what good passing mechanics looks like, I would get them watching themselves pass. You could use one of the apps like Coach’s Eye (I think) that allow you to do side-by-side comparison of video. More than that, though, I’d want to be able to give the lad persistent feedback by using video delay, if you can (ideas for a set-up are here and here). That would let him see himself basically every repetition. He can then compare what he’s doing with what he’s seen is good mechanics. No better feedback than that!

Beyond the video, I don’t think it’s the actual drill or game that really matters. It’s more about finding the right cues to use with him. Those are the things that carry through across all activities, so you can include them throughout practice, which is important. The player needs to learn to pass in game situations, so you need to be able to have those cues established and ready for use.

Be careful, though, and don’t overload the kid. Try to only focus on one or two things at a time. If you have too many points of emphasis it’s not going to work.

Incorporating delayed video into training

One of the things I was able to incorporate into my training sessions at Svedala is a video delay system. It’s something I talked about using in my Coaching Log entries. I thought it would be worth sharing the specifics of what I was using – there and later at Midwestern State.

It starts with my iPad mini and the BaM Video Delay app. The app takes in video from either the forward or rear facing camera and allows you to watch a delayed video stream from it. You can set the delay to whatever you like. I’ll admit, I’m still learning the ins and outs of BaM, but it’s pretty easy to use and suits the purpose.

The most basic way to use video delay in this fashion is to put the tablet on a tripod. You can then have the players go to it after a rep to watch the replay. The more advanced approach is to send the video feed to a bigger screen that would be easy to see. That is what I’ve done.

In our main gym at Svedala there was a projection screen on one wall that we could send the video to so everyone could look at it without having to leave the court. To get the video there, we had to send it to the video projector via a VGA cable input located near the stands. It’s conceptually similar to running the video to a TV or monitor. You have to get the feed to a device which plugs into the output system, or sends it there wirelessly if that is an option.

The solution I put together was to stream the video from the iPad to an Apple TV device. It accepts a mirroring feed from the tablet via either wifi or bluetooth. The Apple TV has an HDMI output, which can then be plugged in to most modern TVs and monitors. As I noted, though, the gym projector only took a VGA feed, so I needed a HDMI to VGA adapter to convert the signal to get it to the projector. Having the video feed transmitted to the projection system allowed me to put the camera anywhere I liked, and to move it around as needed.

Of course there is always the question of where to put the camera – both for angles and equipment safety. A standard tripod is one option. I have found, however, that one of the flexible tripod provides more options in terms of placement. Using a tripod requires a mount for the iPod.

At MSU we did not have a drop-down screen. Instead, we got a 100″ projection screen, like this one. We combined it with a projector on a mobile stand with an extension cord. That let us put the screen just about anywhere in the gym we wanted.

Here’s the tricky bit.

In the gyms at both Svedala and MSU we ran up against issues using the wifi. The networks were not open to mobile device to mobile device connection (e.g. iPad to Apple TV). This seems to often be the case for public networks. Blue Tooth connectivity between devices was the option we went with at Svedala. At MSU, though, we opted for linking everything up to our own wireless router. It made for a much better signal and range than Blue Tooth.

This is not the perfect system by any stretch. For one thing, I’d love a somewhat better camera with more options in terms of zoom. We make do with the resources available, though.

Of course, video delay is only useful if the players actually look at it. That’s something you’ll need to train them to do. Once they get into the habit, though, it provides excellent immediate feedback – and sometimes lots of laughs. 🙂

Coaching Log – Oct 19, 2015

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2015-16.

There were some interesting results in the Elitserie over the weekend, most notably Engelholm beating Gislaved in three. The official stats, for what they are worth, suggest that Gislaved simply couldn’t deal with the Engelholm attack. We certainly don’t mind if the other teams in our southern group knock each other off. That should make it easier for us to qualify for Gran Prix. I was initially thinking we’d need 6 wins out of our first 10 matches, but we’ll see.

I was generally please with how things developed last week in terms of being more focused on being effective in the middle. Our passing was better and we hit for a much higher percentage in Sunday’s match. We also had a much more balanced attack. Those are things I want to keep building on moving forward.

This was a challenging week from a training perspective. Our two young Swedish players were away with the U19 national team playing in the NEVZA Championships through Thursday (they won gold). That meant having only 8 of the core group, with just one setter and one regular MB. One of our part-time players was available to fill in for Tuesday’s match, fortunately. Monday was always going to be a lighter session being in between Sunday and Tuesday matches, so the lack of numbers wasn’t a big deal. Training later in the week was more the issue. I talked after Sunday’s match with the 2nd team coach about bringing in a couple of his players to have more bodies, and in one case to offer something specifically useful.

The main focus of this session was keeping the player fresh for Tuesday’s match by having them do a bit of everything at a moderate intensity while also getting our part-time MB some reps with the setter. I had them play a different version of volley tennis after warm-ups. The rest of the session was a combination of small-sided games and some serving and passing with the MBs working on front and back quicks. They also did some slides at the end of training.

Our Oresundliga season began with a match against Danish team Holte. In the first set it was looking like we might be in for another short match as we jumped out to an early lead and ended up winning something like 25-10. After that, though, things got much more interesting and competitive. We ended up dropping the second set 23-25. The third set was a 25-18 win, though it was tight for the first half. The fourth was another tight one that we ended up pulling out 26-24.

After have two relatively easy matches to start the season, it was good to have a bit of a battle. As with us, Holte’s offense mainly when through two strong players – an OH and a MB. We definitely felt the absence of our young MB on the offensive side of the ball. The part-time player who filled in did well, but it was clear pretty early that offensively she wasn’t going to click with the setter. No real surprise given their lack of work together.

Holte likes to run a fast offense, which we struggled to cope with from a blocking perspective. Too much chasing of hitters. Fortunately, we kept them from being able to go fast for the most part. For our own part, we were able to take advantage of some match-ups, though I’d like to see us do even better there. My two big issues are that the offense just isn’t balanced enough in terms of points production and we continue to by hyper in situations.

Training was pushed to Thursday because the 2nd team had a home match. I went and watched their match. One of my current bench players was in the squad as a starter, and I wanted to see her in action. I also wanted to have another look at some of the younger players who we might bring in to training with the 1st team.

We were in the alternative gym again for two hours, which basically means training in parallel with the 2nd team. After talking with the 8 core players in attendance about Tuesday’s match, then warming up, I had the players do some passing and digging work. They were fairly “block” drills, which I don’t do much off. When I do them, the focus tends to be less on the physical execution of the skill and more on the mental side of things. In this case it was interesting to see some really strong expressions of frustration during the digging drill. Players were cursing, pulling faces, even slapping the floor in disgust at their performance. I spoke with them afterwards about that and how it’s one of the reasons I don’t do those type of repetitive drills much. Too easy to get in your own head, especially for a group of perfectionists.

Since I had 9 players total, including a guest, I ran them through the Belly Drill for 10 minutes or so next – back row attacks only. It served as both a continuation of the defensive work in one respect, and a game-play preparation in another.

The last part of training was dedicated to a 6 v 5 game. I was able to borrow a tall MB and an OH from the 2nd team. Our competition coming up on Tuesday features a tall OPP, so I used the MB as a blocker on the right side. She isn’t technically a great blocker, but she was in the team of 6 with our one on-hand middle so as to present a good sized block for the OHs to work on hitting against. That team served every ball. The other side had no middle, but did have the OPP in the front row, which gave them attacking options at either pin, plus the pipe (and sometimes a play set in the middle). Overall, I felt like the game served the purpose.

Our U19 players were back from NEVZA and I invited a local men’s player in to play OPP in training to replicate the big right side player we’ll see in our match on Tuesday. I had been hoping to also have the young OH from our 2nd team who trained with us the night before, but she wasn’t available. After pre-hab and warm-up, I had the players prepare for full game play by playing a couple of variations of Winners – one backrow 4s with fixed setters, one narrow court 4s with fixed setters and MBs.

The rest of the training was 6 v 5. I started off with a couple rounds of Scramble, then moved on to 22 v 22, rotating the OHs around so they all got a chance to work against the big OPP. For the first time this year, I introduced a kind of bonus play. If the receiving team scored on a first ball or the serving team got either an ace, first-ball stuff block, or a first ball transition kill, that team automatically got the point without a second ball. The result was faster games, though maybe too fast.

We finished up with 6 v 5 regular play (Zone 6 out on the side of the 5). Here I added bonus points for aces, stuff blocks, and quick set kills as well as for 1 v 1 attacking situations for the in hitters. Service aces ended up being probably the main bonus point driver, which is both a positive and a negative.

Thoughts and observations
Friday’s training wasn’t the most focused and intense. A couple of the players were clearly tired. Hopefully, that will be remedied by our first full weekend off since we got started. I do think, though, the players are eager to get at our next opponent, Engelholm. On Wednesday and Thursday I spent a lot of time reviewing their weekend match and preparing video for the players.

Overall, I think it was a good week. The team got a good battle at Holte, which it needed. At the same time, the two U19 players got in several matches, including competing for a championship, which is always a good experience.

Other stuff
During Friday’s training I introduced something new to combat the persistent issue we’ve had with hyperactive play. Basically, I blew the whistle to stop a rally when a ball was played 1-handed/armed when in my judgement it could have been reasonably played with two. As I told the players, the idea is not only to encourage them to slow things down a bit, but also to better control the ball.

On Friday I was also finally able to incorporate video delay in training. Basically, I needed to get an HDMI to VGA adapter to be able to connect an Apple TV device to the Sport Hall’s projection system so I could then stream delayed video from an iPad to the big screen. We still need to work through a few things in terms of best lag time and camera location, but it’s a starting point for allowing all the players to get immediate feedback.

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