Deliver a Great Preseason Film Session

preseason film sessionRecently I was lucky enough to watch a great coach run a preseason film session with her team. Film is such a great tool for teaching and providing feedback to your team.


I was struck by some of this coach’s techniques and thought I would share them here.

Nothing Personal

She began by setting the terms. Nothing said is personal. You just happen to be the person on the screen, but don’t take it personally.  If you are not the person on the screen tune in with just as much focus. We need to learn from the examples on the screen.

Nothing here is personal.

Quality Film

It was preseason so there was no film of a game against an opponent. So what. You can film training and scrimmages just as easily. Make it happen. Do your best to make the film as high of quality as possible so that it’s a useful teaching tool.

If you choose to use film from another team to teach, try to make the film relevant to your team. There are many options out there now to make the film gender and level relevant.

Review attacking/defending system

In this particular session she was using a practice scrimmage so both teams were her team. Therefore each clip was an opportunity to review both the attacking principles and the defending principles before watching the clips.

As a season wears on you can shorten, reduce and eventually eliminate the need to review,  but this was a very effective way to review knowledge and check in on the depth of her team’s overall understanding.

Then she got specific with the clip.


She did all this by employing a Socratic method of questioning. Give athletes a chance to explain the system. This is a good way to check in on their understanding.

In addition, give athletes a chance to tell you what they were thinking in a situation or what other options they might have.

This allows a coach to understand how the player’s see the game and glimpse their own process a little more.  Anders Ericcson discusses this in his great book Peak.


The team got into some good conversations about situations and roles. They were very engaged. As a result two clips took the time that six clips might in the future. Rather than stay for too long in that meeting our coach cut it after two clips saving the other four for a meeting the next day.

That’s a good way to keep the focus high in the room.

Questions for me?

She ended her session with do you have any additional questions we didn’t cover. They did which led to a bit more discussion with high level engagement.

A very effective preseason film session for this team. I bet if I were to check in mid-season they would do this same film session in 20 minutes and get through all the clips. No need to set the terms or review the system. Just get to the heart of the matter with the film.