Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The importance of video for club promotion

Recently a friend who runs a judo club asked me if the videos that I make for the KL Judo Club Facebook Page works. Meaning, does it actually help with recruitment?

I can't say that we've had a flood of new members because of it but we do have a fairly constant stream of people coming in for trial sessions. And they mainly learn about us from our videos, which have proven to be quite popular. Some of these people end up becoming very keen members. These are people we wouldn't have attracted had we not done the videos.

When we first started, we mainly posted pictures. But pictures are literally snapshots and don't tell the full story. To better highlight key things that we do during our training sessions, videos are far more effective.

In recent months, we livestreamed aspects of our training sessions. At first we were uncertain whether a livestream would be of interest to anyone. After all, livestreams are typically quite grainy and the sound really isn't great at all. But to our surprise, our livestreams have been pretty popular. A typical livestream will get around 200 views, which we consider to be a lot.

My sense is that people like to peer in and have a glimpse of how other judo clubs conduct their sessions. Our club is unique in many ways. For one thing our sessions are three hours long (sometimes a little bit more). We also do a lot of groundwork (at least 50% of our time is devoted to groundwork, which is not so common among judo clubs). We play music when we train. We make extensive use of crash pads. We do gripping drills. We have lots of international players. Most of our members are adults. And we do lots of randori.

Some people have asked me, "Aren't you giving away secrets when you show your training methods?" Well, Sunday is a general class where I teach very standard or common techniques. For example, when I demonstrate sankaku, it's the standard version of the technique. Sure, I might add some best practices here and there based on what I've picked up over the years. But the fundamental movement is no secret at all.

It's the same for all the other techniques -- groundwork and standing -- that I teach on Sundays. There's nothing being shown that can't be easily found on YouTube. I guess what people find interesting is seeing other players in the process of learning new techniques.

We also have training on Wednesdays but we typically don't show the technical sessions for those because that is when I work with the players on their individual techniques. It's also on Wednesday that I teach some specialized competition techniques (not the standard versions) like unique turnovers or unusual strangles for groundwork; and gripping tactics and unorthodox throws for standing. These we don't show. There must be some privileges to membership!

Although we don't show everything, if you watch our videos you'll get a very good sense of the type of training we do at KL Judo Club, and of the fun we have during training. We train hard and long and our sessions are always very intense but there's always a lot of laughter, which is important.

Many of my friends who are coaches at judo clubs around the world face the same challenge we face in recruiting members. Whether we like to admit it or not, judo is a niche sport so recruitment will always be difficult. Videos make a difference especially if you have an interesting program to showcase. There is really nothing like video to convey that to prospective members.

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