There are certain rules that pertain to every player throughout the baseball recruiting process, do’s and dont’s that can be a very positive or negative influence on a player’s chance to be recruited by any school. These are our top ten ‘Golden Rules’ that every player, and their parents, should follow in order to make the recruiting process both enjoyable and successful.
1. Keep an open mind: It’s important that every player looking to play at the next level keeps an open mind going into and all throughout the recruiting process. Sure, everyone has those few dream schools they would love to play at, but in reality everyone cannot play exactly where they want. There are a vast number of schools out there where you can get a great education, have an awesome experience playing baseball, and even move on to the pros, so there’s no need to think if you are not being recruited by one of your top 3 choices that you should just give up.
2. Do your research: It is crucial that every player and their parents do their own research throughout the baseball recruiting process. This includes not only finding out info about college coaches, baseball programs, and universities in general that you are interested in or that contact you, but also involves learning recruiting regulations and the differences in the various divisions (DI, NAIA, JUCO, etc.). Nowadays a majority of this information can be found online and for free, so it’s only a few clicks away.
3. Recognize “coach speak”: When a coach is recruiting you, it’s his job to convince you why his school is better than any of the others you could be interested in. In a sense, he is selling his program to you. Naturally, when a coach is talking with you either on the phone or in person, he will most likely tell you what you want to hear. Most coaches won’t lie to you or make blatant promises they don’t intend to keep, but understand they will put their best foot forward in an effort to convince you to play for them, and take that for what it’s worth. Too many times young players and their parents will latch on to every word a coach tells them and sometimes wonder why that school doesn’t end up offering them a scholarship or they stop hearing from them. Keep in mind whatever a coach is telling you he is probably telling to a group of other players as well. At the end of the day, you will likely have to just filter through the things every coach has told you go with your gut feeling about where is the best fit for you.
4. Talk to coaches yourself: Pretty simple- when coaches contact a player, whether it’s through snail mail, email, or over the phone- they want to deal with the player and not their parents. Recruiting, especially college baseball recruiting, revolves around building a relationship and getting to know the player, and it’s pretty hard to do that when they continually speak to the parents instead. This is especially true if it is the player reaching out to the coach, never have your parents call or email any coaches, they want to see the kid take the initiative. This may sound crazy or common sense but these things do happen.
5. Always respond promptly: In general, if a college coach contacts you, make sure to respond in a timely manner. This is true for any type of communication, ranging from a written questionnaire that needs to be filled out and mailed back to a quick text message. We have heard plenty of stories over the years where a coach will call a player and they will neglect calling him back for a few days and the coach will just move on. You never want to put yourself in this position, it is not necessary. Stay on top of the ball at all times and even if multiple coaches are contacting you, make sure you stay up to date with all them as quickly as possible so none of them come to think you are disinterested.
6. Keep the right attitude: No matter how talented the player is, displaying a bad attitude during the recruiting process can be a major turnoff to any potential coach. If you display an attitude while you’re being recruited, what are you going to be like when you show up as a player? This is the question that will most likely go through any coaches mind. This doesn’t just go for when you are talking to or speaking with the coach in person, they talk to everyone and try and get a feel for what type of person you are off of the field as well. In general, never act like you are “too good” for any school that contacts you. This is troubling when it happens, because often the player who thinks he is a top DI prospect really isn’t, and they blow opportunities to play at the next level by blowing off coaches from DII or JUCO schools. On the field, showing up your teammates and showing bad body language when things aren’t going your way are big turn offs for coaches.
7. Be honest with coaches: There is no quicker way to have a school lose interest in you then by misleading them. During the recruiting process when you are speaking with coaches make sure you are honest with them about everything- from grades and stats to what other schools are recruiting you. When they ask you these questions, be sure to give them honest answers. Coaches always talk to anyone and everyone trying to find out information about each recruit, so if they find out from someone else that you lied to them about something, you can forget about that school continuing to be interested. Also, if you hear from a coach and you have absolutely no interest in attending, let them know so you don’t waste their time and your own. By being honest and upfront with each school you will gain their respect and the coaches will want to continue recruiting you.
8. No question is a bad question: When going through this process you need to ask questions and lots of them. This is a big choice for all players to make, and the more information you have the better when it comes to making your decision. Always have a list of questions to ask coaches as you are talking to them, and be sure to ask them to each of the school’s staff members. Questions can be either about the university in general, such as what is the admissions process or what the dorms are like, or more baseball related. Having your questions answered will give you a better feel for the school, program, and coaching staff and will allow you to make a more informed decision on where is the best fit for yourself both academically and athletically.
9. Don’t make impulsive decisions: This process is very exciting, as you are being shown the best each campus has to offer. While in the moment, you could see yourself going to each school and would commit to them right away without having visited anywhere else. One thing you don’t want to do is to make a decision too quickly, and then later want to back out after making a commitment to the school. Things happen and sometimes you have to make that decision, but by taking your time and being diligent throughout the process, and by seeing several different schools, you can avoid this and make the right choice the first time around.
10. Have a backup plan: Recruiting is a very fluid process, things change by the day and by the hour. One minute you may think this is the right school for you the next minute they have already filled that spot in their recruiting class. You always need to be prepared for something to happen and make sure you have a back up plan in case things go wrong. In other words, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” This doesn’t mean going back on any commitments you make, but keep in mind that just because a coach is recruiting you one day doesn’t necessarily mean he will be the next. Never dismiss other schools just because a school you want to attend is actively recruiting you, it could fall through at any time. At the same time, while it’s okay to keep your options open, it’s still important to be honest to coaches so you can keep those doors open and to avoid burning any bridges.