It's always harder to play travel ball in the fall, particularly if you are a senior who needs to visit colleges or take SAT's and ACT's or iyou are working to bring up your grades. In the past (before you were born), West Coast teams would play two or three local tourneys or round robin/scrimmage type games, and then they would go to So Cal for one or two tournaments, generally the Octoberfest and the pre-Thanksgiving (or at the time Thanksgiving) tournaments.
These days, every softball promoter and his or her son is trying to horn in on the exposure tourney trend. There's a big showcase somewhere every single weekend. Some travel teams play more games in the fall than in the summer. And some kids have to miss school every week for one event or another. But no matter what any tournament director tells you, there's a fallacy in all of this fall tournament planning. (Please pass this along to everyone you know, including your travel coaches.)
This is FALL ball. That means colleges are in session. Many have autumn (or non-traditional) seasons during which they practice and play, be it scrimmages, round robins, double headers or tournaments. When does all this college fall ball take place? In the FALL... That means from late August/early September to early November, many coaches are tied up with their real job---which is coaching their team.
Consideration #1: Even if a college coach wanted to scout every weekend in the fall, most of them could not. (And trust me, they don't want to scout every weekend in the fall...they don't even like doing it in the summer.)
Consideration #2: This is financial and practical at the same time. Many college coaches have players in for visits on weekends from September to December. And they want to be on campus when they have recruits coming in. They may be spending budget money to have recruits come in, so many coaches tell me that even if they did want to be out scouting every weekend in the fall (and remember, they don't), they simply don't have that kind of travel money.
Consideration #3: Try simple logic. If you survey all the colleges east of Nevada, I'm betting the ranch you would find that theo overwhelming majority of coaches would tell you this. "IF (and that's a big IF) we travel in the fall to scout---e.g., if we have the money, the time, the resources---we would probably go to one, or at the most two, of the West Coast tournaments. And we'd likely only go to two of them if we were (unfortunately) still hunting for this year's grads or if we had an unusually big recruiting class coming up next year."
It’s also good to remember that---rather than go off campus to scout---many D-II and NAIA coaches will have prospects come in and work out with their teams (because they can do that!) Parents and players may not realize the fact that by October, most of the bigger D-I schools have gotten commitments from or are having their last prospects visit while waiting for them to commit. They'll go scout in the fall---sometimes for walk-ons or a sudden, unexpected need---but mostly it's for kids from the new junior and sophomore classes. So if you're a senior hoping to be seen by coaches at fall events, you probably should be sending your schedules to Div. II, III and NAIA coaches and making the most of your fall competition by maximizing your chances of actually being seen!
9-15-16 JUNIORS, SCHEDULE YOUR FIRST ROUND OF SAT/ACT TESTS NOW!
Juniors need to plan to take one or both of these tests in the Nov./Dec./Jan. window so that you have a baseline score before you start your winter/spring mailings to colleges. You can take the tests this fall and then determine whether you need to take a course or get some tutoring before retaking it in the spring, or you can do your SAT/ACT prep this fall and take the tests in Dec./Jan/Feb. Whatever you do, don't leave it until late spring for your first test. If you take it in April or May, you don't get your scores until May or June. If you discover you need help, you don't have time to get it and then retake the test before reaching out to colleges with your snail mail packets. Here are the links! SAT: https://www.collegeboard.org/ ACT: http://www.act.org/
10-1-16 BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS...
To completely misquote the Immortal Bard... "something wonderful this way comes!" The NCAA---finally---may be putting it's money where it's mouth is and looking after the interests of both prospective players and Div. I college coaches. There's a proposal in legislative channels that will prohibit Div. I lacrosse coaches from having any recruiting specific contact with players before Sept. 1 of the junior year in high school. If this goes into effect (and it would do so in August of 2017), Div. I coaches will not be permitted to talk to players on the phone or even meet with them on-campus during an unofficial visit until the players are juniors.
This would---in theory---effectively do away with early commitments by 8th, 9th and 10th graders because coaches simply would not be allowed to meet with them, talk to them or ask them to commit at anytime before the junior year. Now, being a big of a cynic, I'm sure there will be some "fudging" where this rule is concerned. In other words, there will still be coaches who look for a way around it. But for the most part, if this new guideline passes, you should hear a massive, collective sigh of relief from Div. I colleges around the country. NOTE: At this point in time, this legislation is sport-specific and would only apply to lacrosse. BUT, I believe if it passesl it will open a floodgate for all those other sports that have fallen prey to the insanity that is early pursuit and commitment. Stay tuned to my web page for more information!!!
10-14-16 WHAT THE COACHES THEMSELVES SAY
I was talking to a couple of college coaches recently, and (as always), the feedback I got was very informative. When asked what "irks" them about recruits, here are a few of the points that came up: (Disclaimer: These were just off-the-cuff opinions, and I'm not commenting on or judging them one way or the other.)
1) Players (and parents) who don't understand the recruiting process. This includes those whose travel coaches are telling them to , just "...email 20 coaches every week, and you'll get recruited." The coaches said this tells them the players are looking for the easiest way to make recruiting happen. One coach said that since college ball is never easy, kids who aren't willing to put themselves out there to go after something they want will probably not make it at the college level.
2) Player who don't understand how Div. II, III and NAIA coaches recruit as well as players who think if they go to one of these types of colleges, softball will be "easy." Several comments were made that kids get to a D-III or NAIA team and assume they won't have to compete for a spot or work hard at conditioning, skill improvement, etc. Then they're surprised or offended when they discover they're not in the starting lineup.
3) Players who don't understand the role of conditioning in college ball these days. Coaches at almost all levels of competition expect kids to start their freshman fall already in pretty good shape with the goal of getting even stronger by the time their spring season starts. You don't have to love the idea of strength training, but you'd better be willing to give it 100%. No coach is going to look favorably on you if you aren't willing to work as hard at conditioning as you work at hitting a curve ball.
4) Finally, the coaches all agreed that they see too many players who hit the ball, but don’t “hit it to hurt it!” A hard hit ball goes through the infield faster, causes more fielding errors, and just looks better. They siad too many kids swing as if they were anemic. They may get a hit-technically speaking-but no one is going to be overly impressed. Three crushed balls that get caught will catch a coach’s eye a lot faster than three hits that simply dropped in the right place! See ball…Hit ball…HARD!