How to Videotape Football Games or Scrimmages

I have had a copy of this article for a long time but totally forgot to post it on the old site and now I can’t even remember who gave it to me.  But watching a lot of film for different coaches this year made me remember it … so I found it and dusted it off and figured I would post it here tonight.

Coaches and team managers have often come across the problem where the person who normally films the game can’t do it.  Too often an injured player, parent, or even a coach is asked to do it at the last minute.  Whatever the case coaches can be frustrated with the quality of the film they are getting because the person behind the camera does not really know the coach’s need.  Coaches, this is another area we need to coach up.  The following is a handout to give your cameraperson to quickly educate them and for them to use as a checklist so you don’t lose valuable pre-game time.  It is highly recommended that you have them tape a scrimmage and then go over with it at some time together.

How to Videotape Football                 Games or Practice Scrimmages

First off.  Thank you for you help in taking on this chore.  It is not an extremely difficult one but there are some specific requirements we need you to be aware of.

The coaches have specific needs for game and practice footage.  We are not looking for NFL films highlights.  We are looking for video we can use to evaluate the entire teams performance.

Close up shots are not often necessary.  The only time to close in on the players is after the play ends and they are unpiling and going back to their huddle.  Do not zoom in on the runner when they have the ball.  We need to see how both teams are moving, blocking and tackling. 

Hold the camera steady.  Even without the tripod this can be easily done with some concentration.  Your back may strain a bit, just stretch it out between plays now and then.

Do not zoom out too much.  We do not want to see the entire field.  We want to see the players, not empty grass.  We do not need to see anything off the field.  Focus on the action.  When the play starts try to have all the players in the screen.  The only exceptions are receivers that are very wide and defensive backs that are very deep.  You should have from the end of the running backs to the safeties in plain view.  These persons are the last ones for each team by length of the field.

Kickoffs and Punts

  1. Take a wide angle shot of the teams as they line up
  2. After the kick focus on the return team
  3. Do not track the ball in air but find the returner, as the ball will come to him. Simply pan back to the returner and capture the blockers and coverage as they come to him.  When he moves follow the action with him.
  4. Keep the returner on one side of the camera. There is usually not much action behind him.  So focus on him and what is happening in front of him.

Normal Plays

  1. Show the offensive team as they break the huddle and approach the ball
  2. Shoot the defensive front seven and offensive line at first
  3. When QB is under center zoom back to include most of the players so we can see the formation and motions.
    1. If RUN follow the running back and try to include all blockers and defenders in the area. Zoom in just a bit to do this
    2. If PASS, zoom out to include all players on the screen. You need to capture the QB at then end of his drop on one side of the screen and the defense and the receivers going to the other end.  Once the ball is thrown treat it like a kick, do not follow the ball in the air but the action on the field that takes you to the ball as it comes down.
  4. After the play ends zoom in so we can see the tacklers, the runner, and the near blockers as they unpile.
  5. Stop filming when all players have returned to their huddle

REMEMBER : MORE IS BETTER.  It is better to cut late than too soon.  We can edit out time, but we can’t regain anything.  Also, be sure that you know if you are on Record or Pause.  Many people mix this up by accident.  Check it every time. Learning from mistakes. 

We do not need play-by-play or cheering.  Often this detracts from the filming quality.  Also you may say something you regret later as everyone will hear this.  Be the silent witness when filming.  You can say what you want when the tape is off.

CHECKLIST – Make sure you have

  •             Extra batteries (fully charged)
  •             Extra video tapes (proper size for camera)
  •             Extension cord and power adapter (in case battery fails)
  •             Tri-pod (if necessary, I prefer not to use one)
  •             Understanding of what we want to tape (see above)
  •             Good spot to film from.  Side center field up high is most desirable. It’s a lonely job!


  •             Umbrella
  •             Snacks
  •             Cell phone

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