An Athlete’s Guide: Creating Your Highlight Tape

How to most effectively catch the eye of a college program and maximize your chances of being recruited.

Today’s “An Athlete’s Guide” will focus on creating a highlight tape. While your tape will look different according to positions, editing skills, and other factors, there are certain considerations that will make college recruiters more likely to take a second look.

And in the end, this is the goal of a highlight tape; force a college coach to remember your name. In order to maximize your chances of being seen and remembered, read below for steps to optimize your highlight tape. 

Our expert guidance and advice is sourced from a former recruiting coordinator at a Power-5 football school. Recently, he had the chance to relay his preferences and expectations for highlight tapes to Signing Day Sports. Here, you will find direct advice from this professional who has experience in viewing and evaluating highlight tapes.

This list is in no particular order. Each and every point is important to keep in mind and can be the difference between a recruiter moving on to the next athlete or passing you along to the head coach. Our source expert’s quotes are rewritten for clarity and brevity.

Structure of the Highlight Tape

  • Your best plays should be shown early on. If your “highlights” are underwhelming right off the bat, we will simply move on to the next athlete. Plays should be eye-pooping in the beginning (and hopefully throughout).
  • The highlight tape should not be too long. I suggest around 2-3 minutes. Anything longer than that, and it starts to feel like a waste of time for us.
  • Some student-athletes will put unnecessary things at the beginning of their highlight tape. We can find any information we need from our verified sources, along with the assurance that they are not inflated or blatant lies. Just get to the highlights.
    • Examples include pictures of the player
    • Statistics
    • Height/weight
  • Do not include music
  • Don’t be careless when circling yourself or putting an arrow over which player you are. If we can’t figure it out, we will move on. 

Advice for what content should be included

  • Highlights should exemplify an athlete’s motor. Consistent hustle and high-effort plays stand out to recruiters and should always be included.
    • Even if there’s a play that might be considered by Sportscenter to be highlight-worthy, if it shows you not working hard at any moment, don’t include it.
    • Nothing should show less than 100% effort.
  • Depending on your position, you should exemplify your versatility. 
    • For example, a DB/RB should show highlights of both of these positions
    • If you also play on special teams, include highlights from those plays
    • Don’t let your highlight tapes become overly redundant
  • Sometimes student-athletes will include “highlights” of themselves that are really a more accurate representation of the opposition’s inadequacy. 
    • If your opposition failed to tackle you, or fell down, or did anything to allow you to make a play unopposed, then it is not your highlight
    • Don’t include your 90 yard touchdown run where you were untouched; this would be a highlight for blockers who opened up holes for you
  • We would rather see a specific move (cut back, big tackle, pancake) rather than a long play of just running.
    • Maybe it doesn’t seem like a highlight because you didn’t score a touchdown, but a small, effective play goes a long way in a highlight tape
    • These small plays say more about your ability as a football player, than an unopposed 90-yard run

What to do with the Highlight Tape

  • Main way to use the completed highlight tape is to post it on Hudl.
    • With that said, it never hurts to send it out to coaches and recruiters through social media direct messaging
    • Recruiters often watch these, and you never know what could come of sending it out to schools individually
    • Sending individual DMs is not a guarantee that it will be watched however – make sure that the above criteria is met before sending it out
  • Update your highlight tape every week.
    • Each student-athlete should have weekly highlights from the previous game played
    • Every athlete should also have their yearly highlight tape that they update and edit weekly.
    • Format the year-long tape in a way that showcases your best plays regardless of the game – don’t consider chronological order, just put your best ones at the beginning
    • At the end of the season, every football player should have game highlights for any game they played in, as well as a cumulative highlight tape exemplifying the best plays of their season (still 2-3 minutes long)

Following this advice will ensure that all recruits are boosting their odds of being recruited. Each and every recruiting tool out there serves a purpose, but they also have the chance of hindering a recruiting journey if it isn’t utilized properly. 

With that in mind, it’s imperative to take the time to edit your videos and only publish content that meets the above criteria and advice. Otherwise, you risk being skipped over, and not getting a chance to begin with. 

Good luck to the student-athletes and parents who are in the process of creating their highlight tapes. We wish you the best. And don’t forget to tag Signing Day Sports in your highlight tapes on social media for us to share and promote your work.

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