Welcome to the ninth installment of our weekly column, “Too Embarrassed to Ask,” where we’ll examine a hot topic from the world of recruiting that parents and student-athletes may want to know more about, but may shy away from asking because it is considered assumed knowledge.

Think of this column like a cheat sheet for those instances it is no longer acceptable to ask a question, say, having met someone three times but still not knowing their name.

This week’s issue: Highlight reels

The question: How Do I Make My Highlight Reel Stand Out?

The short answer: The plays that make you stand out (no, really, that’s it).

The actual answer: In a highlight reel, coaches want to see the plays that show a player being athletic, versatile and smart.

A reel does not have to be a endless clip of making glorious plays, nor should it be. While the “razzle dazzle” is nice, they only show one part of the equation.

As a student-athlete, you simply need to show the plays that you make consistently and well. These can be anything from hustle plays, to clips showing how fast you are, to clips showing you understand the game.

So, include a wide variety of plays, and don’t worry if you do not look like an All-Star in each clip. Instead, just remember you are trying to show a coach how complete of a player you are, your athletic ability and your desire.

You may be surprised at how much coaches value the little things.

The movie quote that explains current understanding: “Some of these guys can run the 100m in under 10 flat. I don’t care where you’re from…that’s lightning.”

-“Yea…but can lightning run on ice?”

-Irv Blitzer and his former teammate Roger, from 1994’s Cool Runnings

What the quote says in our context: In this glorious film, disgraced American bobsledder Irv Blitzer (played with charming alacrity by John Candy) is trying to obtain a rundown sled from his old, skeptical teammate Roger. It will be used by a merry band of four Jamaican sprinters who hope to compete in the Olympics as the first-ever Jamaican bobsled team. (Note: I shouldn’t be explaining this movie to you. Go see it if you haven’t, and then come back and read this.).

In the context of recruiting, this quote is illumining. Irv thinks telling Roger that these guys are fast is the whole selling point. Roger responds in kind, saying it doesn’t matter unless they can do it on ice.

For our purposes, this is a great point: You need to show a coach you can do things that will make you successful at the collegiate level. It doesn’t mean showing the “SportsCenter” plays you can make now – it means showing your versatility and traits that will make you best-suited to assist their team in the future.

Our Advice

While highlight reels can be a pain, they are a necessary step in showing a college coach what kind of player you are.

Again, coaches are not necessarily looking for the flashiest play, and often, are looking for ways you are different from other players. So, ask yourself what you do well that may not show up on the stat sheet, then find video that shows you doing it.

College coaches will not watch or make judgments strictly on a play of you making some amazing finish (e.g. a goal, a killer spike, etc.). They watch what’s happening as plays develop, the “in-between” time; the little things a casual fan may miss but are the huge things to experienced coaches.

So, the easiest way to make your highlight reel stand out is to show the plays that make you stand out on the field. They often aren’t the “best” plays, but they are always the “right” ones.

While on this subject, a word to the wise: Make your highlight reel as short as possible. 15-20 plays, 3-5 minutes. That’s all you really need. Show your versatility in those plays, and that’s it. A coach is not going to watch a 20 minute reel, so don’t waste the time, effort or money making one of that length.