3-1-15 DUST OFF THOSE CLEATS! High school softball season is now underway for all states who play spring softball. However, it can be tough for some athletes to view their high school team with the same enthusiasm with which they look at travel ball. I understand this completely. Not all high school softball players are playing for the same reason. For some, it's a springboard to summer, and hopefully, collegiate competition, but for others, it's simply a fun social activity that keeps them in shape and affords them varsity athlete status.
It you're lucky enough to have a knowledgeable, dedicated high school coach, chances are you'll have a challenging season that will prepare you mentally and physically for travel ball while at the same time allowing you to experience the pleasure of successful competition with your friends and classmates.
If you're not lucky enough to be on a high school team where everyone works together toward the same goal--e.g., building a competitive program and doing its best to win--then choose to make the most of your personal high school season by taking extra batting practice, focusing on your conditioning, and striving to play the very best game you can play!
3-14-15 BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH! (Look it up if you don't understand the literary reference.) As it applies to your college search, it simply means you have between 10 and 12 weeks until you start active travel ball. If you're hoping to garner a coach's attention as a result of playing in a specific tournament or attending a certain camp/tournament combine, you need to be on that coach's radar. If you haven't already done so, you have less than 10 weeks to shoot a skills video, identify 50-60 colleges to write, create a letter and resume with your schedule, and put those packets in the (snail) mail. (If you think you can just whip this out through some cc'd emails, you're way, way off base.)
I'm often told that I'm a nag. (And not of the equine variety!) But my nagging is the good kind. It reminds you recruiting is extremely competitive, but it's also a game you can win if you know how and what to do. If you have my book, that's a great starting place. If you need additional help or have questions the book can't answer, please don't hesitate to give me a call!
Softball offers you many wonderful things--skills, experiences, life lessons, and more. Playing in college will enable you to continue enjoying those benefits. But for the vast majority of players, you're not going to be able to play in college if you don't make the effort to show coaches how much you want this!
4-2-15 SO YOU WANT TO PLAY COLLEGE SOFTBALL... Here's all you need to do!
1) Develop a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. 2) Keep your grades up. Put the same effort into your school work as you do into your softball. 3) Improve your softball skills every year. Never rest on your laurels...or your stats. 4) Keep your options open. It's fine to aim for a Top 25 D-I program, but remember, there are 1175 other schools out there, and you have a better chance of ending up at one of them than you do at Alabama or Washington! 5) Become an outstanding hitter. No matter what position you play, hitting sells. If you can consistently hit good pitching, plenty of coaches will notice. I cannot stress this enough. See ball, hit ball...hard!** 6) Play the game for love. There's no other reason to do it. 7) Understand that college softball will challenge you, push you, and demand more of you than anything you've ever experienced. Success may not be handed to most of you as freshmen, nor will a .425 batting average and All-Conference honors. But you can win at this game if it's what you really want! 8) Last, but not least...be prepared to WORK. Competing against thousands of other prospects and showing coaches how much you want to play may seem daunting. But playing in college is a reachable goal IF it's the goal you most want to reach. Remember, I'm here to help and I can keep you moving forward. 9) HAVE FUN!
4-14-15 RECRUITING IS RARELY BLACK OR WHITE! I get emails and phone calls on a regular basis from parents asking, "is this camp worth it?" or "How valuable is this particular tournament?" or "Should we pay the money for this web site or app?"
The problem is that recruiting is simply not black or white. That's why I am so very leery of all these people/agencies/companies that promise you'll be recruited based on your "numbers". Even if you're an athlete whose sport can be measured by precise numbers---e.g., swimming, track, etc.---numbers don't necessarily indicate sound mechanics, a big heart, a strong work ethic, complete commitment to your game, and so on.
What's worse, when it comes to softball, while a measurement might show your POP time or your speed down the line or even your performance numbers over a series of games, without a context these numbers may not prove anything. For example, you might hit .530 or steal 20 bases over the course of several tournaments, but if you're facing teams whose pitchers throw meat balls at 55 mph or whose catchers can barely reach 2nd base on a throw down, those numbers certainly don't prove you can hit top Div. I pitching or take a base from an All-Region Div. I catcher.
The same thing can be said for camps and tournaments and programs. YES! Some player who attends may indeed be noticed by a coach who's attending and their collegiate softball interests may intersect, and lo and behold, the recruiting process begins! Does that mean if you're not at that tournament you won't be recruited? Or that if you are there, your recruitment is guaranteed? Absolutely not! Therein lies the rub. You can pay that fancy corporate recruiting web site their highest possible fee so that your name is at the top of the list sent to certain schools. But there's no way this guarantees the coaches at those schools will take the time to see you in action or offer you a scholarship.
The only thing that is certain about recruiting---particularly if you don't happen to be one of the top ten players in the country at your position in your graduating year---is that your chances of being recruited depend upon a whole lot of factors including: your willingness to consider all types of schools and accept that your personal wow factor school may not be a Top 25, D-I team; 2) your willingness to do the work you need to do to get yourself noticed by coaches at your wow factor schools; 3) your ability to perform when it counts---be that at a camp, a tournament, or a workout with the team at a college; 4) your thorough understanding of how recruiting works.
Add to this good grades and test scores and a little bit of luck, and chances are you will find a college, a team and a coach who thinks you're a great prospect!