If you’re anything like me, you’re probably sick of seminars about tech in teaching or coaching. It’s not that you don’t believe in it, it’s just that learning one more new-fangled thing that may or may not actually be practical in a gym or classroom setting just doesn’t inspire excitement anymore. I am with you, I get it, but a couple years ago a fellow coach turned me on to a tool that has changed how I coach and it a crazy easy to use without blowing the flow of your practice or drills. It’s called video delay…

Using video in practice sounds awesome, but wasn’t really practical. Setting up a camera, setting up something to play it back on, rewinding to find the right place on the video you just took, breaking the flow of practice and sacrificing reps to watch was more pain than it was worth. We all know that people learn by seeing, especially when physical activity is involved. If only there was a way that athletes could see themselves seconds after they did something and then jump right back in after seeing the visual feedback…

Enter in the I-pad and video delay apps! A video delay app takes a second to understand and it kind of messes with your head when you first see it. A video delay app isn’t recording video to save, it is just constantly playing back what happened at few seconds ago. It’s like a time machine mirror. What shows up in the screen is what happened in front of the camera a few seconds ago. So, if you set up your I-pad on a tripod facing the player, they can perform a skill, then come over the screen and see what they just did a few seconds ago without having to stop/start/rewind, etc. This is especially effective when working with multiple kids, as they can check themselves on the screen while it’s the other player’s turn to perform the skill. Put is right in the flow of your drill and no time or reps are lost at all as they are watching while they would usually be standing in line waiting their turn! You can set the delay time to how long it will take the athlete to come to the screen after performing the skill; anywhere from 1 second to 2 minutes on the app that I use.

I can’t tell you how valuable this tool is in our gym and how much it speeds up the learning process. Rather than just getting verbal and feel feedback, they can SEE what they are doing. I would even suggest that it can even improve relationships and respect levels between players and coaches because the athletes can now see that the verbal cues you are giving are accurate and not just nagging. Perhaps the most important aspect of using video delay is that players start to analyze themselves rather than just relying on coach feedback. You as a coach can help this process by asking them what they see on the video or telling them to look for a certain thing and report back to you. Athletes feel like they are taking ownership and coach is now a partner in figuring it out rather than the nagging voice constantly telling them what they are doing wrong.

So what are some caveats with using this?

  • A Good I-pad, case, mount, and tripod set up aren’t cheap.
  • Expensive things on a volleyball court tend to attract balls, lol. You have to protect the I-pad.
  • Players and coaches can become addicted to it and you won’t have it in a match. Use it well but not constantly.
  • Setting the delay time accurately can be tricky depending on the flow of the drill and kids messing with it and throwing it off can make you want to punch yourself in the face…
  • It’s not a recording device – if you don’t get to the screen soon enough within the time delay that you set, it’s gone (although many video delay programs now have a capture feature…). This is not a huge deal, just know going in that you aren’t recording for long term use. If you want to do that, use the regular camera.

So how do you get started using video delay?

  1. Buy an I-pad: I suggest one with a larger screen.
  2. Download a video delay app: I use BAM Video Delay but there are others out there. You shouldn’t have to spend more than $10 on the app itself.
  3. Protect Your I-Pad: Spend the money on a good case that will protect your I-pad in case it gets hit or knocked to the floor. I swear by the gumdrop case available here; https://amzn.to/2GQGoI0                                                                                          Personal Note: I just had a ball knock my I-pad pro off the tripod and onto the floor and no problem at all!
  4. Buy a stable tripod: Don’t go cheap or light. Many tripods are made intentionally light for carrying purposes but I wanted something heavier in case of impact. This one is working great for us and comes in under $40; https://amzn.to/2GS7b6K
  5. Buy a Mount: You need this to mount the I-pad to the tripod – easy to use, under $15; https://amzn.to/2GQif4m
  6. Set it up and mess around with it: You’ll quickly learn the simple controls and how to best set it up within the flow of your drills so that your players can see themselves on the fly!