In my time as a showcase baseball coach, I have been fortunate enough to assist about 100 families in the recruiting process. Though I would not consider myself an expert, I do have some actionable steps for you to use while navigating this process. I have purposefully left off showcasing and travel ball from this list, because I am going to assume that most people here are already involved in a program. Also, I am aware that there are companies that offer recruiting services. In my opinion, no person or company will care about your kid more than you. This is why it is important to be highly engaged and proactive throughout the process, and to not just rely on others to make something happen for your player.
This is my Five that Drive the Recruiting Process. This could be viewed as “bootstrapping” the recruiting process.
1) 100 “Things” List
2) Schedule Surfing
3) Three for Three (and Beyond)
4) Go Watch a Game
5) Reach Out
“100 Things” List – This is simply a list of anything and everything that you would want out of your college experience. The goal is to get to 100 things (you probably wont get there but it is worth a shot), and then you begin to rank them from most important to least important. It is an ongoing list that will be revised often, but in the end will be used as a checklist when researching schools to identify whether they fit your needs and interests. We know how difficult it is to get our players to actually talk about what they want in a school, so by creating a list it gets them thinking about what they want without the pressure of actually having to have a serious conversation with their parents. It is less threatening.
Examples include specific academic or athletic facilities, location of dorm rooms, size of class, location, academic support programs, size of school, etc. You will have to spend some time and thought and really think about your ideal situation. Once you get your list ranked and are happy with it, if you are able to hit on 7 out of your top 10, I think that university should get serious consideration regardless of the level of play.
Schedule Surfing – Once you have established or at least have identified some of the things that you will be looking for in a school, you can begin your research. The internet is a great source to find information, which brings us to our next strategy, Schedule Surfing. Once you begin your research, look at both the academic portion of the site, and the athletic/baseball team link. Analyzing the roster for position and hometown are important. By looking at the team’s roster, you could identify whether your position will be a priority this (or next summer), and also gain some insight into where most of their players are from, showing you the staff’s recruiting approach. For instance, if there are no players from New Jersey on that roster, know that you will have to work much harder to gain that program’s interest. Lastly, look at their schedule and conference, and allow the schedule to direct you to schools you may have never heard of, or schools that are of a higher or even lower level. This will help you build your list of schools, and become exposed to more programs.
The Three for Three (and Beyond) – The Three for Three (and Beyond) is another strategy that should take place prior to the summer of your junior year. This is when you create a list of (at least) three schools at each of the different levels of play: Division I, II, and III. This way you do not put all of our eggs into one basket, and it ensures that you will be more prepared throughout the recruiting process. With the players in my program I use a Google form that is submitted to me so that I have a sheet of all the schools that each players potential interest. For you it could be a sheet of notebook paper and three (or four if JUCO is an option) columns. Make a list!
Remember, ALWAYS KEEP AN OPEN MIND. There are a lot of great baseball players out there, and less than 2% of high school baseball players earn a Division I baseball scholarship.
Go Watch a Game – I am going to try to be direct as possible with this one, how can you say that your son can play at a certain level if you have actually never seen that level of play in person? When you go to a game there are many benefits. First, you get to actually see the level in person. You see the speed of the game and the size of the players, and you experience the pressure of each pitch. Another benefit is that you can observe the way the coaches interact with their players. The way a coach interacts with you in the recruiting process is going to be different than the way he interacts with his players during a weekend conference match-up. Lastly, maybe your young player will learn a thing or two, or if at the very least be motivated that much more to become a college baseball player.
* Another note, when you attend a game of a college that you are interested in, send the coach an email letting them know you were there, and that enjoyed the experience. Make it as personal as possible.
Reach Out – Now that you have identified colleges that you are interested in, it is time to reach out via emial or phone call. In a future post I will provide an example email for you, but for now here are a list of some tips when sending a college coach an email:
- Address the coach by name, do NOT write, Dear Coach,……
- Make sure to CC all available assistant coaches, especially the recruiting coordinator
- Share why you are interested in their school academically as well as athletically
- Provide contact information for summer and high school coach
- Include your upcoming schedule or any links to specific profiles
- If you have a recruiting video, include that link as well
The recruiting process can be confusing and stressful. The biggest mistake is being passive, and hoping a school will like your son. Be aggressive, and be an advocate for your player, and promote his talents.
If you are looking to learn more, here are a few books that were recommended by college coaches:
Be a Recruited Athlete-The Secret to College Recruiting: What Every Mom and Dad Should Know – Hanson has several resources for parents.
Dollar Sign on the Muscle: The World of Baseball Scouting – We turn the tables here a bit, and this resource steps into the world of baseball scouting, the act of identifying talented players.
The High School Athlete’s Guide to College Baseball – Coach Wayne Mazzoni focuses on the recruiting process, and has authored several resources specifically for high school players. Check him out at www.getrecruited.net.
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