published Friday, October 5th, 2012

More prep coaches using practice tape

Jennifer Lewis, right, films varsity football practice at Central High School in Harrison. Many schools across the region have begun to film their football practices as a way for coaches and players to learn by watching plays from a different perspective.
Jennifer Lewis, right, films varsity football practice at Central High School in Harrison. Many schools across the region have begun to film their football practices as a way for coaches and players to learn by watching plays from a different perspective.
Photo by Alyson Wright.

Chad Barger has videotaped football practice since he took over as the Sequatchie County coach five years ago.

He's part of a growing trend in which high school film work no longer is limited to reviewing upcoming opponents or grading the previous week's effort.

Of 22 area coaches who responded to a survey, 19 shoot video of their practices.

"Yes, we film — Monday through Wednesday. It is a very important part of our preparation," said Hal Lamb, whose Calhoun team won Georgia's Class AA state title last year.

Practice video has become more important this year than any other for Barger and his staff. They have only five seniors and four juniors who play a lot. Of the 66 players on the roster, 42 are freshmen and sophomores, and about a dozen of those play substantially.

Their youthfulness is one reason the Indians have struggled this season, and Barger is taking full advantage of every coaching aid at his disposal.

"It's a valuable tool," Barger said of taping practice. "I think it's more valuable when you have a young team. Some of them don't have the football IQ of older players and then get to see firsthand what they're doing, what they should be doing, and they usually figure it out once they see themselves on video."

Coaches will review each day's practice video before going home and then spend the next day's first practice minutes going over it with the offensive and defensive units.

"We break it down for them by position," Barger said. "We may watch the same clip four times."

Manpower is an issue.

"It definitely helps to be able to film practice, and we do it a lot during fall camp when we have extra study time with the players," McMinn County coach Bo Cagle said. "We would love to film practice all the time, but time and having enough staff are problems."

Soddy-Daisy and others ran into a problem of finding a regular cameraman and also finding time to watch practice tape, "but from a coaching standpoint it is and will be a necessary tool for us," Trojans coach Kevin Orr said.

Like many, Notre Dame does a lot more taping during the preseason.

"I would film every day if I had a dedicated film person and a tower where we practice," Irish coach Charles Fant said.

Then there are those more than willing to join the crowd if resources were available.

"I do well to get a film guy there on Friday nights," Tyner coach Wayne Turner said.

"We don't [tape practice], but I would love to if I had the resources," Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said.

Brainerd is in a similar situation.

"I wish I could, but no resources or manpower," said Panthers coach Stanley Jackson.

He may have to have a fundraiser just to keep up. Some programs are so advanced that they can put their practice tapes on the web for players to see before the next day's practice.

"We film practice and post it to our site for the kids to review at night," Heritage coach Tim James said. "It reinforces what we're teaching, and in my opinion it is a necessary tool for today's game."

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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