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The "Film Room"

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

The Film Room

Every professional sports team and most athletes of individual sports, watch game film.


For coaches, the use of film is a valuable resource for both correcting your players and preparing for the upcoming opponent.

For players, it’s a tool to get to the next level. The serious player will look at film when the team is watching it or when his position coach has left game notes for him.

As many firefighters are well aware, through being a player or coach in one, or more, high level sports, “watching the tape” allows for many benefits.

The main reason you should make it important to players is it helps them LEARN the game, not just their position. You are building up their game IQ. Being able to have highly intelligent players is only going to make your team BETTER. Smarter players = WINS. It also makes it easier for you to teach and for them to learn.

So, you knew it was coming…”how does this relate to firefighting?”

Our culture has an ingrained resistance to “reviewing the game tape”. We have a fear of being reviewed by our peers and supervisors. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. But we all know it’s not the norm.

How often have you heard “the fire went out and everyone went home safe”? …Really!? Is this the standard that we want to reach for?!

“Breaking News” – EVERY fire goes out.

And everyone went home safe, this time; but did we take any lessons home that made us safer for next time?

When I refer to reviewing the “film”, I mean REALLY reviewing. Not, “well, that went pretty well” but more of the “what are 3 REAL things that we need to improve for the next one?” (And don’t forget to highlight, “What did we knock out of the park? Let’s keep doing that!”)

I learned this in the military, waaaay back, - "Sustain" and "Improve"

We critique the heck out of our new people. No issue. But as soon as we get some “time in”, we are afraid to let anyone see that we aren’t the all-knowing, all-doing, vet firefighter. Training can sometimes become an exercise in fading away, instead of stepping up.

How about some training challenge scenarios where the drill comes in hot ( no pre-empting ) and the winning team gets lunch bought for them…and then, as a team, you critique that drill; you work on those very same skills, as a team, to get stronger, as a team.

Ask your captain what you need to do to get better. Ask your troops how you can serve them better. Be open to honest feedback.

This is not about singling anyone out. It’s about showing some humility, as well as some leather, and doing the work and taking the hits to become better than yesterday. It’s about really drilling down to become even better at our craft.

This post may be the first test.

If you are getting offended right now, your feathers are feeling a little ruffled, you might be the person resistant to critique.

If you are saying to yourself, “You bet! Let’s get "on it!”, then you are probably already "leaning in".

This letter may not be directly for you….or maybe it is. No one else can tell you …only you.

So get honest, get humble and get after it…. Roll the tape…

See ya on the Road,


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