Pon De Replay - Video Review in Judo

By Joshua Hagen

As a fan of sports in general, the use of video review has intrigued me for a long time. If you’re a basketball fan, you may like to know that a man named Erik Spoelstra was hired by the Miami Heat as their video coordinator in 1995, and held that position for two years before taking over the position of assistant coach/video coordinator.  Eventually, he was hired as their head coach in 2008, coaching the likes of Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade to 2 championships and 4 finals appearances in a row.  

Professional sport is a business first and foremost, so I believe that if they didn’t think there was a lot of value in a video review position, they would not give people full time jobs to do it.

Which leads me to another, more judo-specific example.  While in France last month, I met coaches from all over Europe. One in particular was a German Junior National Coach.  One of his athletes, Tim Gramkow, a Junior-aged athlete had just defeated Frank De Wit (video posted below) in the Dussledolf Grand Prix, and they were looking towards the upcoming Junior World Championships.  One of their athletes was injured, and he volunteered to be their video coordinator leading into the event.  For a 4 month period, he spent countless hours meticulously editing videos of all of the top competitors that they thought they may have to face at the upcoming Junior Worlds.  They looked for tendencies in these fighters, and devised a specific game plan for each athlete to defeat them.  Tim was defeated in the semi-final of the championships, and was about to fight for bronze against an athlete whom they had not prepared to face. So they called their newly-appointed video coordinator in Germany, and asked him to ask quickly as possible put together as many relevant clips of this athlete as possible before the bronze medal match was to occur later that day.  Based on that video work, they were able to successfully put together a game plan for that athlete and capture the bronze medal.

It is so exciting to me, having done most of my competing in the 90’s and into the 2000’s, that we now have the incredible, free resource of high-quality video to be able to watch any match, at any major event that we want.  In the 90’s, we used to have to purchase a highlight reel of the World Championships from Fighting Films- and it would cost is somewhere in the range of $75-$100.    

While professional sports franchises don’t do everything right (just ask Cleveland Browns fans) I think that as a coach I could stand to do more video review, particularly since the resource is free, even if the time resource required to sift through it all isn’t.


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