BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Motivation is a key part of pushing an athlete to be the best.
Mt. Vernon's football team is using video as a motivator, and that technique is not limited to Friday nights. It's bled over to the summer months as well.
Last summer under coach Jared Shaner, Mt. Vernon started periodically filming some of its scrimmages. That practice has continued this year. The film is used to evaluate and grade each player's performance.
The team uses an elevated camera, which is about as tall as a football goal post. It's also the same one setup in the north end zone during home games at J.D. Shields Memorial Stadium. It gives a higher vantage point and can capture a wide swath that includes the entire line of scrimmage.
“We don't do it every practice,” Shaner said.
The reason is the time it takes to assemble and tear down. Shaner said it requires about 10 to 15 minutes to erect and the same amount of time to dismantle.
“But it's really valuable at times,” he said. “So last summer we really started to use it when we were going to do a scrimmage situation.”
Mt. Vernon also has a hand-held video camera coaches can use when more versatility is needed.
“An assistant coach, if they, want, if they say, 'Hey we really need to see this drill on film; they'll just take it ground level somebody's filming like you normally would. We'll do that for individual positions.”
Shaner said normally the athletes are notified of an approaching film day. Within a couple of days, the conclusion of a practice is spent watching the video.
Shaner in addition to being the team's head coach is also over the offensive skill position players. He goes into a film room with the Rams quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
The quarterbacks sit next to him in the room. The running backs and receivers join their respective position coaches and the session starts.
“Really it's a great motivator for kids,” Shaner said. “It's pretty cliché for coaches, football coaches anyway. There's an old saying that film doesn't lie. Everything you do is on it.”
Once the group is settled Shaner selects an individual play from the scrimmage, announces its name and lets the video play through once without any comments or critiques from anyone in the room. He rewinds the play to the beginning and each position coach talks for about 10 seconds to his individual group of players about what went right and wrong during the action.
“You could spend a long time on one play if you allowed yourself to do that,” Shaner said. “But obviously you want to maximize your time.”
Shaner allows the video to play once more and the most the group watches any single play is three times. Then they move on to the next one.
“Kids want to make great plays on film, and they don't want to be called out in the film room,” Shaner said. “So there's a little extra in terms of motivation in terms of the kids' effort too.”
Sometimes the session includes the entire scrimmage and other times coaches will select a limited amount of plays.
“Sometimes we will pull out the most important ones or the ones we feel offer the most teachable moments,” Shaner said.
The summer is a bit more relaxed for the Rams, but during the season players are expected to have viewed the video prior to Monday film sessions, using the internet-based program Hudl. Once the coach imports and uploads the video to Hudl, players and assistant coaches can access it using a computer, tablet or cell phone.
“The vast majority of them do (watch it),” Shaner said. “They enjoy it first of all. It's technology. They like getting on there and watching A themselves or B the upcoming opponent.”
Shaner added players must now take the classroom knowledge and implement it on the field.
“The next step and the big issue for all coaches in general is you want your kids to be able to take that that your teaching them and apply it to a live situation when things are happening really fast,” Shaner said.
The Rams are currently in their summer break period. Mt. Vernon's first official practice is Wednesday, and the Rams open the season later this month on the road in Rochester.