Summer travel baseball tournaments are arguably the single biggest recruiting events in all of college sports. Top tournaments like the Perfect Game WWBA National Championship attract hundreds of teams from across the country per age group. This means that a big chunk of the nations top talent can be found in one place for weeks at a time. You better believe the college coaches follow close behind, not wanting to let such a convenient opportunity to scout players go to waste. From a player’s perspective however, even though the fields are often crawling with college coaches and professional scouts, it can be difficult to standout in the crowd amongst the thousands of other players present at some of these tournaments. Here are five ways to set yourself apart:
1. Let them know you are coming
The fact of the matter is, unless you are popping at least 90 mph or the ball makes a distinct sound off of your bat, its going to be tough to grab the attention of any coaches or scouts out of the blue. Therefore, it’s crucial that you let them know you are coming before you get there. Not every school attends every tournament, but if there are certain college programs you are interested in, there is no harm in reaching out to them and letting them know you are interested in their school and providing them with your summer schedule. Include what team(s) you are playing on and your coaches contact info as well. If you have a quick highlight video posted to YouTube, throw that in as well. If the coaches like what they see they may put you on their list of players to check out if your paths cross over the course of the summer.
2. Help your team win
Most people have this idea in their heads that getting recruited is all about being selfish and only looking out for yourself. While in some ways this may be true, when it comes to tournaments it is not the case. Many times, the further your team makes it in the tournament, the better off you are going to be from a recruiting standpoint. Especially in tournaments where there is a separate playoff round, many coaches and scouts will not start seriously scouting until those later rounds. If your team doesn’t make it that far, then you are out of luck. Also, the more games you play in total, the more chances you get to put yourself out there to be seen. Regardless of your personal results, it is going to be tough to attract many coaches and scouts to games when your team is not doing well, because most of the time coaches prefer to see at least a few quality players at once if possible. The more successful your team is in the tournament, the better off you will be as well.
3. Don’t worry about who is watching
One of the most proven recipes for failure in sports is trying to alter your game based on who is watching. Especially in a tournament setting, trying to change your game as you go will set you up to perform poorly. Your goal should be to play with the same focus and intensity regardless of how many fans or scouts are in the stands. Also, even though it is cliche, you never know who is watching. You may think you are not being scouted or evaluated, but the sports community is a tight one and you never know who is in contact with who. Also, given the fact that tournament hosts are playing a more direct role in promoting the players at their tournaments though features like the online scout blogs done by Perfect Game and Prospectwire, the only person you may need to impress that day is the scorekeeper who will writing about the highlights of the game.
4. Hustle and make plays
I once heard someone say that coaches want to see players that only play at 75%, because that way they will be impressed that they are performing so well with so little effort. I’m not sure where that person came up with that, but good luck trying that strategy. The better plan is to do the opposite of that – play hard all of the time and let the chips fall where they may. The good thing about hustling and playing hard at all times is that you put yourself in position to make plays and impact the game even though you may not be hitting or defending well that day. Sometimes it can be the little things, like stealing a base or getting into the right position on defense, that can set you apart from everyone else on the field. Most, if not all, college coaches want baseball players who enjoy the grind of playing the game each and every day, not prima donna’s who can’t stay focused for a few games over the course of a tournament.
5. Go big or go home
Big time summer baseball tournaments are not the time to hold back. If you are a power hitter, swing for the fence and show off your power. If you are a base stealer, show off your speed a swipe a few bags. At the same time, stick to your game. Pitcher’s who live on location should not be out there trying to throw as hard as they can, while at the same time power pitcher’s shouldn’t be guiding the ball. Usually you will only get a few opportunities to show off your talents to coaches or scouts, so it’s important to go all out when you get that opportunity, without the fear of failure getting in the way. If you leave it all on the field and come up short you will have no regrets.