One of my quarterbacks recently asked for help.  He wasn’t sure how to build a good highlight film with his best plays from the previous year.  Making a highlight film stand out begins with having great highlights. But before I could give advice, I needed to cover my bases.  Like anyone looking for answers, I Googled it.  What were other quarterbacks doing with their highlight films? Fifteen minutes in, my eyes went numb.

Many videos had great plays but even more distractions.  Soon, my numb eyes caught a pattern.

The biggest mistake was forgetting the target audience.  The why behind a video is to get a college coach to recruit you…period.  Not your friends, followers, and family.  If you keep that at the forefront, mistakes will fall away.

Here are the 10 most common mistakes in a quarterback highlight film.

1. The film is TOO LONG…

Target 5 minutes or less.

Understand, the college coach has a limited amount of time in his day.  Don’t waste it with a 12-minute video that no one watches to the end.  4 to 5 minutes, closer to 4, is the optimal video length. This limit forces you to include only the best plays.

2. Your intro is TOO INFORMATIVE…

Put your basic information on one opening title slide.

Short, sweet and informative, the opening title slide includes your position, jersey number, name, school name, and graduating class year.  The college coach doesn’t care what you look like, school records, bench press, forty time…SHOW, DON’T TELL.  Remember: Your highlight film is an introduction to your abilities.  It is not an interview.  That interview opportunity and details will come after they determine if you can play football.

3. You THINK you’re making it easy…

You’ve seen it. The freeze-frame with a circle around the quarterback… at every play.

You’re thinking, “The coach needs to know where I am!” Newsflash, the coach who can’t identify the quarterback is not one you want to play for.

That pause with the special-effect highlight before each place does 3 things:

  • Sucks the energy out of the video by pausing the action and breaking the flow.
  • Insults the coach’s intelligence.
  • Steals valuable time that could be used for more great plays.

It’s a different matter for a receiver’s highlight film, but don’t pause the action, include the identifier in the flow of the video.

4. You’re wasting time that could be used for more highlights…

Slash as much wasted time before the snap and after the play as you can.

Film flow is critical.  Start the play right before the snap and end the play upon completion, and that isn’t always the touchdown.  Doing this lets you squeeze in another great play without running out the 5-minute clock.

For example, if you throw a slant route that goes for an 80-yard touchdown, the important piece is your ability to throw the slant.  Cut the time after the catch; the touchdown run is the receiver’s moment of glory, not yours.

5. Hey, they score movies, right?

Leave the music out.

Say what?  There may be nothing better than Drake and Future dropping rhymes in rhythm to your throws.   But what if your target audience–the college coach—doesn’t like Future? A good song doesn’t make bad plays better, but the wrong song can make the right plays seem worse! Acing the music prevents a sour association AND it makes it more sharable with media outlets and organizations who worry about copyrights more than you do.  Let your plays make the music.

6. Saving the best for last…

Pack the front. You have seconds to hook a college coach and keep his attention.  Time is critical in his world and he has 1000 videos to watch.  It is mission critical to put your best 3 plays at the beginning. Nail the first impressions or you won’t get another chance. Make the first minute the best.  With the edits described above, that’s 6 to 8 plays.

7. It’s only about passing…

Think again. Show plays that reveal your athletic ability; even if it means a long play.

Coaches need quarterbacks who make plays when everything breaks down.  Explosive plays include gap escape plays and plays made on the run. Put them up front, in the first minute. College coaches need to see you move in a game, not just what your forty time is.

8. And about touchdowns…

You’d think a touchdown throw is a highlight—and it is—but show yourself throwing a route tree.

Seeing you throw 10 fade routes for touchdowns or 10 R.P.O. key screens that receivers run in for a touchdown may not be the highlight you think it is.

Coaches want to see you throw different breaking routes to access your accuracy and timing.  Feed them with a string of plays where you throw a route tree.  Select the best—it doesn’t have to be comprehensive.

9. Expand your throwing platform…

Anyone can set up and throw, but most throws at the higher levels are on the move.  Whether it’s in or out of the pocket, highlight your ability to make throws on the run.  This could be bootleg pass plays thrown after a gap escape.  Throwing when running from your throwing arm side is extremely difficult for many quarterbacks.  Highlights of yourself making these types of throws should be a high priority in your video.

10. Not letting them see you sweat…

Show yourself throwing under pressure.

The #1 trait that college coaches are looking for in a quarterback is their ability to perform under pressure.  One of the things that can reveal this trait on film is how will you handle throwing against the blitz.  Whether it’s throwing a “hot” route or making a throw with a free rusher in your face, these plays need to be placed in your video.

Here is a timeline for making quarterback highlight films that work.  This workflow saves you time in selecting plays for the video.

Now see how it works in action. We built this highlight video avoiding the common mistakes and using the structure and strategy of our timeline.  I hope this helps serve you in your quarterback journey.