Friday, December 10, 2010

Watching the Tape

Six Lessons from a six-time Pro Bowler

Antonio Gates, tight end for the San Diego Chargers, is a film nut. Not the kind that watches all the new movies as soon as they come out.

Game film.

ESPN The Magazine had a great article recently about the positives of being a film geek. Gates is not satisfied with the mandatory film sessions that begin the day after a game - first for the offensive and defensive squads, then for position groups, and as the week progresses, highlights of their next opponent. Most teams spend parts of four days each week viewing film.

Then there are players like Gates, who spends up to 12 hours per week voluntarily watching film. He got into the habit after an injury in 2007 slowed his game down. He was losing his edge, and needed something to  help regain it.

Enter the technology that allows game film to be available as soon as the final whistle blows. Coaches can break down games frame by frame, rewind, and do it again. Players requesting special packages can get them early in the week and study them all week long.

It worked for Gates. In 2009 he had a career-high 1,157 yards receiving and is on track for another stellar year in 2010. Gates says that "watching film doesn't guarantee that you're going to play at a high level - but it gives you a chance."

Gates gives 6 reasons why watching film makes him a better player:
  • The camera doesn't lie - no matter what you think in a game, the truth is on the tape.
  • History repeats itself - knowing your opponent's tendencies against teams similar to yours will reveal information that will help you out
  • Recognize the VIPS - certain types of defensive sets will have clues as to what is coming up; by focusing on the key players, it will be easier to outsmart the defense
  • Know when to say when - too much just clutters the mind; know what you are looking for and watch in multiple sessions rather than a marathon
  • If you think you're in "Inception," you're on the right track - study film intently enough, and the plays are running through your head long after you stop watching them; you will be able to run through situations before the game, and will make it easier to pull off in real time
  • Seeing is believing - when reality aligns with what you've studied, it's like deja vu
Okay, this is all well and good for a football player, but what does it have to do with normal leaders, like in ChurchWorld?

Only this: how do you as a leader evaluate what you do week in and week out? Do you sit in a staff meeting and discuss what happened last weekend? Do you wonder why things didn't go as you planned? Do you want to figure out how to repeat the service where everything went right?

Maybe it's time to watch some film - of yourself, in the "game."

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