If you're someone who makes New Year's resolutions, why not put making sensible choices at the very top of that list! Why? Because sensible choices cover a lot of ground when it comes to the college search. Here are just a few examples: 1) Develop a softball budget…and stick to it! 2) Pack a healthy lunch instead of buying reheated, high fat, concession stand hot dogs. Everybody wins and you save money. 3) Don’t buy that $350 bat just because it’s pretty or because you believe it will make your player a hitter. It won't. Only practice and hard work will do that. 4) Don't spend thousands going to camps at colleges hoping to be recruited.Here's a little secret. College coaches do occasionally pick up walk-ons or even a scholarship player from their camps, but the overwhelming majority of kids who go to camps don't get recruited. If you do elect to go to a camp, make it an experience that counts at a school that's already told you you're at the top of their prospect list. 5) Put money away for visits to colleges. Only a small percentage of recruits have their college trips paid for. Most of the time, parents have to foot the bill, and if you're looking at a lot of colleges, those trips can drain your budget faster than you can say "Strike three! You're out!"
I'm sure if you think about it, you can come up with another dozen ways to make sensible softball choices! Happy New Year!
1-14-15 LEARN FROM THE PAST
Jonesing for a warm afternoon spent on the softball field? Never fear, you'll be back on the outfield grass in no time. But for now, here's a suggestion for those of you whose parents spend endless hours video taping your games when you are competing. Get out those tapes and study them from a coach's perspective. See if you can improve your future hitting by examining your past swings.
Assess your mechanics, break down your swing. Is your weight balanced? Do you have a tendency to reach for the ball or over stride? Do you let the ball get deep into the zone so that your swing stays compact and strong? Are you able to identify an outside pitch and go with it rather than trying to pull it into the gap?
There are all kinds of things you can learn from watching both the pitches you hit and the pitches you miss! It takes approximately 1000 swings to change muscle memory, so fixing parts of your swing may not be that easy. It certainly won't happen overnight. Now, while the winds are howling and the cold weather makes you shudder at the thought of a ball hit off the tip of a finger...now is the time to take those 1000 swings so that when high school and travel ball start in earnest, you'll be an even stronger hitter than you were the last time you set foot in the batter's box!
2-1-15 TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE BIG PICTURE
When it comes to the college search, I often see parents get lost in the minutiae. It's beyond easy to get caught up in the craziness that seems to surround the process. It's almost like a contact high. Unfortunately, this isn't a good thing. Families spin their wheels until they're buried hubcap deep in the mud of misinformation, mis-direction and misunderstanding.
I see the worst effects of this when it comes to the insanity that surrounds early decisions/commitments. I get emails and phone calls from parents of 7th and 8th graders asking me if their daughter needs a recruiting coach, how soon they can sign up, how soon she can be expected to make a commitment to a college, and so on. It makes me want to scream!
Yes, a small (as in 10-15) percentage of players will commit as freshmen or sophomores to some of the top Div. I programs. But no matter what you hear, the reality is governed by two facts. First of all, 75% of colleges aren't D-I, and the vast, overwhelming majority of those schools won't look for commitments from prospects before their junior year (at the earliest). Most will look to get commitments after the junior year and into the senior year. Second on this list is that fact that many Div. I coaches will still be looking for commitments from juniors...and some will even still be recruiting seniors!!!!
I won't tell players not to reach out to the bigger D-I programs as sophomores (and occasionally, even as freshmen,) However, I will tell their parents that only a small number of kids will get to make those early commitments to the top programs. If they feel it's only worth their daughters playing at big name, top ranked schools, then fine. Go to camps and send videos when she's barely out of diapers. And if a Top 25, D-I coach offers a spot on his/her team, great! If not, your player will end her softball career early.
But if your athlete wants to play in college because she loves the game, and if she wants to play as opposed to sitting the bench for four years, take a step back, observe how recruiting really works, and look at all the possible schools that might consider you or your athlete an impact player. Those are the programs (regardless of affiliation) where she (and probably mom and dad as well) will be the happiest!
2-14-15 A VALENTINE'S WISH
If chocolate is your thing, I hope you get a big box today. If heart-shaped cards make you happy, I hope your mailbox is crammed full. But my real wish is that you keep softball in your heart. The only reason to play softball (or any sport) in college is because you love competing. Sure, it's nice to be offered some scholarship money, and there's no doubt this will help ease the family's financial burden. But there are many ways to pay for your education. If you don't love what you're doing while you're working out, practicing, traveling to games, missing social activities, and busting your butt to earn your time between the white lines, then you will not be a happy player, and you'll waste a lot of time doing something that doesn't make you feel wonderful!
If you LOVE softball, it will be easy to put your HEART into it 24-7! Happy Valentine's Day!