At this time of year, college coaches are watching great softball--clutch performances, diving stops, key strike outs and more. But big tournaments like those in Colorado and Southern California can really test your "grit" as it were. There are so many good athletes competing against you, and so many things can factor into your performance--rain, heat, altitude, attitude or mindset, location, injuries and more. If you're having a great summer, and if you did your pre-summer homework so coaches know to look for you, some active recruiting may result. You may be rewarded with phone calls and emails from colleges in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, however, some players put so much pressure on themselves (or their parents put the pressure on them) that there is no way they are going to “show” at their best.
The key to a successful college search is knowing how to beat the system. (In a good way of course!) If you had a great week in Colorado, for example, make the most of it by calling and emailing coaches who saw you or requested more information. Follow up and ask what next steps you can take with them. If you weren’t so lucky, and you had a bad week or you just didn’t get seen (very possible for a lot of kids), remember that there are 1200 colleges with teams out there, and you just need to focus on the schools where you know you can succeed and where you can “wow” the coaches--particularly those coaches who won't see you play this summer.
If you come home from a big tournament (or from the summer itself) and give up--as some players do--then you probably didn’t want to play college ball that much in the first place. But if you’re serious about competing in college----whether you spend the summer being a star or being disappointed----you’ll build on this experience and move forward more committed than ever to finding the team and the school that are right for you! (By the way, if you’re a 2017 grad and don't end the travel season with a big offer from a big program--as you were sure you would--it may be time to rethink your game plan! I can help with this! Just email or give me a call.)
7-15-16 BE CAREFUL...YOU NEVER KNOW WHO'S WATCHING!
Summer travel competition can be very stressful. And stress sometimes brings out the beast in us! However, when you're at a tournament, from the moment you get OUT of the car until the moment you get back INTO the car, you should be on your best behavior. Shirts should be tucked in, and a smile should be pasted on your face. It's easy to forget that a college coach sitting inside her car as you walk by can hear you swearing at your coach, your parents, your boyfriend, yourself...but trust me, that coach will NOT be impressed.
If you're with your parents, smile and nod and as soon as you're in the car, plug in the iPod and ear buds. If you're with your teammates, smile and nod and save your gripes for the hotel room. I guarantee that when/if you put on a college team uniform, you won't be allowed to act out your frustrations in the parking lot. Most coaches have strict rules about behavior because you're representing the college. So ask yourself at the beginning and the end of every summer softball tournament, "Am I having fun?" If you're not, you should talk to your parents or coaches about why not and try to discover how you can make it fun again. Trust me, you won't want to play in college if it's not fun. And you shouldn't have to!
8-1-16 USE YOUR SUMMER DOWN TIME PRODUCTIVELY
When I talk to players and parents this time of year, I often have to look very hard to find anything even remotely resembling upbeat optimism. Some players may be talking to coaches who saw them earlier in the summer, and they may feel there is forward momentum. But many players aren't hearing much back or are only hearing general information. It's very important not to let this stress you out!
By the time we get to early August, college coaches may not be doing a lot of active scouting/recruiting. It's their only time to take a break before school starts again. So as far as I'm concerned, this is the time for you to do one of these things: (Note: This is primarily directed at rising seniors. For the younger crowd, it's just something to think about for the future.)
1) Have fun, be a teenager, forget about softball for a (short) time. You'll have tryouts in August, fall ball from Sept. to Nov., and oh yes, your senior year for you 2017 grads. You've earned a couple of weeks off, and if you've done your homework, you can afford to enjoy that time. If you're a younger player, you too should enjoy a few weeks off. Your fall will get busier, but it's too early for you to be stressing over recruiting. Remember, this process is a marathon, not a sprint for most families!
2) If you're a 2017 grad and you're really concerned about where you stand, you'l need to start calling coaches you've written in mid August. Use this break time to determine which schools you need to call and what you're going to say. (In August all of my rising seniors get a detailed set of guidelines to help them determine where they are in their college search and what they need to do next...including making those phone calls. I also give them a sample script.)
3) Go back through the schools you've written and ask yourself, honestly and objectively, it you have--perhaps--written too many schools that are at the upper end of your target zone or too many schools that are likely to be done recruiting. If your answer is yes, use this time to target some of the D-II's and NAIA's and even the D-III's that you did not previously consider writing. What can it hurt? Those coaches are more likely to be eager to hear from you, and they are more likely to want to see you in the fall.
4) Think seriously about how badly you want to play in college and whether you should begin adjusting your expectations a bit so they're more in line with reality. And you may have to consider looking at some of the smaller college programs because they are the ones that may be more likely to go "Wow!" when they hear from you.
The bottom line here is don't get discouraged. It's early days yet. If you know how to target the schools where you'll have the strongest WOW factor, you still have time to find a college and a team!
8-15-16 ACCORDING TO A RECENT SURVEY...
I was visiting a new softball web site not long ago, and right on the main page, it stated that based on a survey of youth coaches and parents, the vast majority of them did not understand how recruiting works. REALLY??? How can that be so? Fancy corporate web pages promise thousands of coaches will see you (or your child) if you just send them a big wad of cash. Travel team coaches promise you'll get recruited and earn a big scholarship if you just play for them...and give them a big wad of cash. Seemingly knowledgeable parents sit next to you in the stands and tell you that all the colleges (that matter) are done recruiting through 2020, and that if your player doesn't have a scholarship by now, it's too late for her. The ubiquitous (and often wrong) "they"---coaches, parents, players, etc.---say that all you need to do is email coaches at your top 20 colleges every week, and you're sure to be recruited. On the other hand you might want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars flying and driving to college camps all over the country because "everyone" knows colleges do all their recruiting from camps!
So if all these people know so much, how come the majority of parents out there feel confused, uninformed, and frequently quite stressed by this whole thing? They feel that way because almost no one tells it like it is and shows them the big picture of recruiting. Getting recruited is not that hard. But you have to understand that this isn't a level playing field. Not all college teams (coaches, funding, competition, and so on) are created equal. (And neither are all players!) So what works for one college, just as for one softball player will not necessarily work for or even apply to another.
Figure it out, Folks!!! Unless you know where to find accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive information about recruiting, you run the risk of being left standing out in right field when the game is over and the park has closed! (Hint: Buy My Book! And that's not me being self-serving. That's me trying to help YOU!)