Best Practices for VOD Reviews

February 16, 2024
Ann Smiley


Whether you’re new to Video-On-Demand (VOD) reviews or an experienced reviewer, there are proven best practices that will help your students be more successful. VOD reviews are an essential part of any coaching business, so we put together this guide by asking our top-performing coaches to walk us through their strategies.

What’s a VOD Review?

A VOD review involves analyzing a gamer's recorded gameplay footage to assess and enhance their performance. Usually, students record their gameplay sessions using built-in game features, external recording software, or streaming platforms. As a coach, your role is to review these recordings, either in a live session with a student or asynchronously by creating a video with your comments incorporated.

The purpose of a VOD review is to analyze different aspects of gameplay like decision-making, mechanics, positioning, teamwork, and overall strategy. Through a careful analysis of your students' gameplay, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses, highlight areas that need improvement, and formulate strategies to boost their performance in upcoming matches.

How to Write a Good Review

Preparing for a VOD Review

Start by understanding your student's goals and current skill level. Review their responses to your questions asked during the booking process and any comments they made when they submitted their videos. If anything is unclear, don't hesitate to contact them via chat for clarification.

For returning students, review the feedback you provided on their previous videos. This will help you identify areas of improvement or ongoing struggles. Familiarity with your student's progress over time will enhance continuity and make your coaching more productive and personalized.

Consider whether you want to review the video live with the student or provide a recording instead. Asynchronous coaching offers more flexibility, while in-person sessions are beneficial for building relationships and allow for real-time exchanges, which can save time and prevent misunderstandings. If you do decide to conduct a live review, consider recording the session so your student can review it later.

Anatomy of a VOD Review

📢 The guiding principle for VOD reviews is to write a comment for every major decision in the submitted gameplay.

Since there is massive variation in the duration and structure of matches in different games, it’s not really possible to provide a general estimate for how many comments to give per review. Instead, you need to rely on your own expert understanding of the game to recognize each crucial decision.

Your comments will obviously vary based on your game, your student, your goals, and the decision. But there are some general guidelines — which will vary based on whether your student has made an error or a strong choice — that will help maximize the educational value for your student.

If you’re commenting on a mistake:

  1. Start by pointing out the error they made: Call out what they did and why it was suboptimal. Your student might not even realize what they were doing at the time.
  2. Then try to diagnose why they made this mistake. You will be able to best help your students if you understand their thought process when making decisions. This enables you to change their thinking about the game, helping them internalize your suggestions and improve as a player. So spend some time trying to understand why they might have done what they did.
  3. Next, point out what you would have done instead, and why. Explaining your reasoning here will help them modify their thinking about the game.
  4. Finally, where appropriate you should try to give some suggestions on how to avoid making this mistake in the future. Is there something they could have done earlier to avoid getting into this situation in the first place? Are they making bad choices in the heat of the moment? How can you help them to pick a better option next time?

When commenting on good play by the student:

  1. Start with praise, telling them they made a smart decision. How you do this is up to you and your own coaching style, but giving positive feedback (when merited) is essential to keeping your student motivated. Even a quick nod, emoji, or pause and replay can go a long way to keeping a student encouraged and engaged.
  2. Point out what you saw them doing. Sometimes students will have a different idea of what they were doing in the clip than you do. This will reinforce their decision-making if it matches what they were thinking at the time, or help correct a misunderstanding if they were thinking about it differently.
  3. Explain why the chosen course of action was appropriate in this situation. It's crucial to do this because students might occasionally make the right decision by accident, meaning they won't be able to replicate this success consistently. Clarifying why it was the correct decision in this context can either boost their confidence in their game thinking, or create a learning opportunity. Both outcomes are beneficial.

Summary Comment

After incorporating specific comments at strategic points during the video, it is important to conclude your review with an overall summary where you point out broad trends in your student’s gameplay, both good and bad. You should also give the student some goals/tasks to work on before submitting the next video for review. Assigning tasks between sessions is not only an effective method to help your students improve, but also plants the seed in their mind that they should be planning to submit more matches in the future.


Build Relationships

Building relationships with students in an asynchronous setting, rather than through live sessions, is challenging. Never underestimate the value of connecting with each student. From a business standpoint, students who feel that their coach cares about them personally and understands their learning style are more likely to return for ongoing reviews. From a learning standpoint, students who feel comfortable with their coaches are better learners. Some high-profile coaches may feel that they don't need to spend much time on relationship building with students, but it always helps both the student and your bottom line. Here are some specific strategies you might consider to help foster a relationship with your students if you are primarily doing Replay Reviews for them:

  • Encourage them to schedule a Live Session once every couple of months, so you that you have some live interaction. Even if you’re just going over a VOD together during the session, this will give you a chance to build your relationship with the student.
  • Respect their time. Be vigilant about sticking to your delivery time commitment, and if something unavoidable comes up, contact your student as soon as possible to let them know about the change. And don’t just tell them their review will be late — tell them exactly when they’ll receive it.
  • Make it a goal to get in touch with your students about once a week, via a VOD review, a live session, a game, or just reaching out to them via DM to check in on their progress.

Always Assign Homework

Your summary comments are an excellent opportunity to reinforce key takeaways and lay the groundwork for next time. But the best thing you can do for your student is to convert those takeaways into a specific assignment that they should complete on their own time before the next session. Consider assigning your student tasks like:

  • Play at least X matches and really focus on prioritizing Y, avoiding Z, etc.
  • Play at least X matches and try using a different build/strategy Y to expand your repertoire.
  • Play at least X ranked matches and try not to be so anxious about making mistakes (or have a more positive outlook while playing).
  • Watch at least X replays of matches by top player Y. Focus on how they correctly do Z.

Assignments like these will give your students the chance to put your teaching into practice between sessions, which reinforces learning. It will be a practical test of whether they’ve internalized the feedback you gave them. It will also act to establish continuity between Replay Reviews. And it will give you something to refer back to when giving your next set of comments to the student. For further reading on the role of homework in learning, check out Turning Students into Experts.

The Bottom Line

Every student is different, but taking the time to polish your reviewing strategy will make you a successful, in-demand coach. That means preparing a bit before starting a VOD review, giving detailed feedback, and laying the groundwork for students to submit more matches on a regular basis.

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