The baseball recruiting process can be confusing and daunting for some, with information spread out over a range of places without knowing who to trust. The key is educating yourself on the process as a whole; there are always people out there who are looking to help and the knowledge to do so. One of the biggest keys for families is to be proactive throughout the entire process- know what you want to accomplish and create a plan. Most people, through no fault of their own, simply throw shots in the dark and wait for something to happen.
Abraham Lincoln once said “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” In today’s world of recruiting, this could not be more true. As you look around kids are making commitments at a younger and younger age. Regardless of how you feel about this, being able to adjust and adapt to the ever changing world of recruiting is a must. I am not telling anyone to rush into a decision, but as more athletes commit, the spots available dwindle and it becomes a numbers game. There is no reason to panic, as there is a place to play for everyone who wants to, and being proactive helps alleviate some of the stress that goes along with this process. Here’s how:
1. Create a plan: Most good things start with a plan. A plan will also keep you on track and give guidance on what you need to be doing during the process. Your plan may have to adapt and change, but staying flexible will help you stay on top of the process. It’s crucial that each athlete and family should have a plan specific for themselves, because it would be useful to tailor what you are doing based on someone else’s skill set and interests.
2. Identify schools: The first part of your plan should be identifying schools that you are interested in playing at. The key to this is being able to identify schools that match your talents. For some people this can be the most difficult part, since everyone would love to play at FSU, UF, Stanford, or Texas. However, the truth is they are going to pull from the top 5% of players in the country, and if you don’t fall into that range you need to be open minded and move on. There are a ton of great programs around the country from Div. I, II, III, JUCO and NAIA.
3. Be evaluated: Everyone has a certain view of themselves as player, so it is crucial to get objective feedback from third parties in order to get a better idea of where you should target as potential schools to attend. Getting quality evaluation will help identify your strengths and weaknesses and will give you guidance in how you should shape your plan. Events from trusted sources like Perfect Game, travel and high school coaches, or consultants who have knowledge and experience are the best places to look for advice. The key is having the person be a third party giving you honest feedback that can help you gauge where you at. A word of caution, always beware of those who you feel may be weary to be critical of you or are giving you overly positive evaluations, because in the end being given the truth is more productive then avoiding hurt feelings.
4. Put yourself out there: Great companies like Apple are so successful because they are the best at by bringing you in the brand and making you feel a part of their vision. The same goes for recruiting- coaches are selling their programs and vision to players, so why don’t athletes do the same? From the athlete’s perspective, you need to let coaches know who you are by contacting them, attending the right tournaments, and visiting specific school’s camps. Players can contact coaches as much as they want through phone calls, emails and direct messages on Twitter, so use it to your advantage. It doesn’t have to be complicated, simply state you are interested in the program, tell them a little about yourself, your teams, and the tournaments you will be playing. At the least, the coach now knows your name if he didn’t already know it before. We have spoken at length about the choosing the right events, such as the PG WWBA over USSSA or AAU. School camps are always a great way to be seen directly by a college staff where you are interested in attending. I have seen it first hand at UCF where kids performed at a high level at our camps and were immediately put on our radar or even in some cases offered scholarships shortly their after.
5. The unofficial visit: Unofficial visits are a great way to see the campus, meet with a coaching staff, and get a feel for the place you may spend four years of your life. It sounds cliché but in most cases when you step foot on a campus you get a feeling of whether it is or isn’t the place for you. Yes unofficial visits come out of your own pocket, but they are invaluable in this process especially if the schools you are interested in are within driving distance of your home.
Take control of the baseball recruiting process and don’t let it control you. Being proactive is about taking ownership of the process for yourself, and when you put in the work you will likely be rewarded for it.