5-1-12 SUMMER’S COMING-WILL YOU BE READY? Summer travel ball is only a few weeks away. Colleges are wrapping up their seasons and coaches are starting to look ahead to the tournaments they’ll be attending in June, July and August. One big mistake WAY too many families make is assuming that because their daughter is playing in that “major” event in Colorado or New Jersey or Florida or Nevada, she’ll automatically be seen and recruited. After all, her travel coach told her there would be lots of coaches at these events. Sure, there will be. But I can promise you that unless your player hits home runs at every other at-bat or throws no-hitters against very competitive teams or is on the right field at the right time, there simply is no guarantee at all that she’ll be seen, let alone noticed or recruited by those coaches.
If you really understand how recruiting works, you’ve no doubt done the things you need to do to ensure your athlete doesn’t waste these valuable opportunities for exposure. You’re not relying on her coach to “get it done”. You’re not relying on emails sent to the top fifteen or twenty D-I programs in the country, and you’re not counting on luck to make her dreams of playing college ball come true. When it comes to recruiting, no one likes to hear that it’s work, that it’s not fair, and that there are no guarantees. I understand that. But in this instance, knowledge of the process and realistic expectations coupled with a little expert guidance is equivalent to being told ahead of time which horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby or which six lotto numbers will come up in next week’s drawing. You can take it to the bank…if you know what to do. But if you don’t, and if it doesn’t happen the way you hope-at the risk of sounding a little testy-you have no one to blame but yourself!
6/12/12 SEE BALL…HIT BALL! I try not to repeat opinions, but sometimes great ones warrant a rerun…or two…or three! This opinion has to do with hitting the ball. If you watch freeze frames and slow motion graphics used in baseball or televised softball games, you’ll almost always see that a player who just got a great hit-sometimes off of a great pitch-had his or her head right on the bat and ball at the moment of contact. This seems like an incredibly simple notion. If you’re tracking the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and following it to the point where it meets your powerful swing, something good is going to happen most of the time. Yet when I watch players, I see that many of you--even if you had the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand--let it go somewhere between the rubber and home plate. The end result is usually a swing and a miss, a weak hit or a called strike. Extra time spent in the batter’s cage away from the stress of a game will help, but I also think it’s not a bad idea to just go stand in an imaginary batter’s box any time you see a pitcher throwing to a catcher and watch the ball. Don’t hold a bat; don’t try to hit the ball. Just watch it all the way in. Train your eyes to see it, to recognize spin and movement, and to get into the habit of staying with it until there’s some sort of outcome. Ideally, that outcome will be a ball sent screaming back up the middle, or if you’re really lucky, over the fence!
When it comes to recruiting, hitting “sells.” If you’re an outstanding hitter, they’ll find a spot for you on their team. While the oft-heard adage, “You can’t hit what you can’t see,” may be old and tired, keep in mind, it’s still the gospel truth! So see the ball, and hit it hard, and something good just might happen for you!