A famous mantra says, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” In sports, preparation is everything. We strive to improve every time we practice, learning new offensive systems, defensive strategies, new plays, and new variations of old ones. One massive advantage that should be put to use is watching game film in order to study our opponents as well as ourselves.
When preparing for an opponent, watch game film of their recent games as well as film of the last time you played them. By doing this, you will pick up on certain tendencies they have, learn their favorite plays and be able to better decipher ways to stop them, and will also allow you to zone in on your opponents best players and develop strategies to limit the impact those players will have on the game. Watching film puts you “in the game”, allowing you to visualize what the game will actually be like and exactly what you want to do during the game.
After the emotion of playing a game, post game film sessions can be particularly enlightening. This is the rawest opportunity to scrutinize your own performance, analyze your mistakes, and figure out where you went wrong and precisely how you could have done better. Be objective when watching your own performance because it’s important for you to be honest with yourself if you want to improve. In your mind, place yourself back in those game situations and visualize what you would do differently, taking notes on your observations.
I believe that when watching game film, the insight you can gain on yourself is even more powerful than what you can learn about your opponents. While in no way should you underestimate the importance of studying your opponents, film on yourself gives you access to the player or team whose performance you have complete control over. By giving an honest evaluation of yourself, you can superiorly put to use every aspect of watching game film. There is always room for improvement and most success is achieved once we start acknowledging our weaknesses and doing something about them. By paying attention to even the smallest details you will be able to zone in on exactly what you need to work on.
A team film session is a good time to communicate with teammates to figure out how everybody can work better as a unit. A huge part of this is constantly learning how to best help your teammates play to their strengths and how they can best help you play to your strengths. A team in which everybody understands their role, communicates openly, and holds each other accountable is a force that is difficult to defeat.
Professional and other high-level athletes have gotten faster and stronger over the years for a variety of reasons. One reason is because of the advancements that have been made through a massive amount of studying the human body in recent years. Today’s athletes who compete at high levels often have access to a team of experts, including sports psychologists. If you can’t afford your own expert, you can still use some of the same techniques employed by these experts. One of the more widely known and accepted techniques is known as visualization. A major advantage to using visualization is that it is easy to learn and to fit into your current training routine.